English Patent Model, Screw Propellor

This model represents the "revolving spiral paddle, for propelling boats and other vessels on water," that Englishman Bennet Woodcroft patented in the United Kingdom in 1832. The model once formed part of the technology displays at the U.S. Patent Office, from which it was transferred to the Smithsonian in 1926.
Bennet Woodcroft (1803-79) was for many years the superintendent of specifications for the British Patent Office. The author of numerous British patents indices, he was instrumental in creating the Patent Office Library in 1855 and the Patent Office Museum in 1857. Trained as a weaver, he held a number of patents for textile machinery, but his great interest was steam navigation, for which he also held numerous patents. He long championed his screw propeller, overseeing a first test of it in a manually powered boat in July 1832 and arranging additional tests on steamships through the 1840s.
He received at least one American patent, for a variable-pitch screw propeller, in 1846.
Currently not on view
Date made
ca 1832
patent date
Woodcroft, Bennet
overall: 5 3/4 in x 4 3/4 in x 2 in; 14.605 cm x 12.065 cm x 5.08 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
Patent Models
See more items in
Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History


Add a comment about this object