Wilson’s Patent Model of a Steam Radiator - ca 1859

This model was filed with the application to the U.S. Patent Office for Patent Number 24,897 issued to Charles A. Wilson of Cincinnati, Ohio on July 26, 1859. His patent was for a new and improved concept of stacking long, narrow boxes as elements for a steam radiator . The claimed benefit of this modular design was the ability to tailor the amount of radiator surface area in accordance with the amount of heating needed for a given room. And, this was made possible without changing the amount of floor space required for the radiator. His design called for the boxes, or modules, to be constructed of cast iron with corrugations at the top and bottom that allowed them to nest together tightly while still allowing for expansion and contraction with varying temperature. Each box had holes on the bottom at each end of the box. On the top of each box, nozzles projected upward and aligned with these holes allowing steam to pass from one section to the next. Two vertical screw bolts passed through the holes and nozzles to secure the stack of boxes together. Raised circular bumps surrounded each nozzle and provided a surface for a red lead or other gasket material to seal the joints. Steam entered and exited the radiator via two additional holes on the bottom of the lowest module. Research of available trade literature and other sources has not revealed any commercial product that may have made use of Mr. Wilson’s invention.
The model is constructed of painted tinplate and consists of four modules, or boxes. Steam inlet/outlet holes are modeled at the bottom. The bosses between sections are also shown. The sections are held together with two screw bolts with nuts at the bottom. There is a small, rectangular access plate on the rear of the top section. The patent drawing shows this access; however, its purpose is not described.
Currently not on view
Object Name
patent model, radiator, steam
patent date
Wilson, Charles A.
overall: 9 3/8 in x 9 1/4 in x 4 1/2 in; 23.8125 cm x 23.495 cm x 11.43 cm
associated place
United States: Ohio, Cincinnati
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
patent number
Engineering, Building, and Architecture
Patent Models
Patent Models
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanical and Civil Engineering
Patent Models
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center

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