Ship Side Light, Patent Model

Among its many products, wealthy merchant Enoch Hidden's New York City brass foundry made ship's portholes, also called side lights. Hidden received patents in 1848 and 1853 for improvements to side lights, and this is the model he submitted to the Patent Office for the latter one.
Portholes admit light and air into a ship, but need to be watertight and sturdy to withstand heavy weather. For this reason they are typically round, cast in strong metal, fitted with thick glass, and provided with screws or bolts to fasten them securely shut. Hidden's porthole features special screws that cannot be completely removed from the frame and lost. Where the brass porthole frame passes through the side of the vessel, a lead ring prevents water from seeping between the frame and the wooden hull. Additionally, the light frame-the porthole's window pane-pivots in projecting ears, which allow it to sit firmly in a rubber seal when closed, but "to be hauled from its seat" when opened "so as to allow the plane of the light to be placed at any angle to the main frame, thus freely admitting of ventilation." Hidden's patent was reissued twice, to himself in 1863 and to his son in 1864.
Enoch Hidden (ca. 1795-ca. 1865) ran a prominent brass foundry in Manhattan. He was father-in-law to the renowned New York shipbuilder William H. Webb.
Currently not on view
date made
patent date
Hidden, Enoch
associated place
United States: New York, New York
Associated Place
United States: New York
Physical Description
brass (frame material)
wood (backboard material)
glass (window material)
overall: 9 1/2 in x 8 1/2 in x 2 3/4 in; 24.13 cm x 21.59 cm x 6.985 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


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