Creeping Baby Doll Patent Model

This model demonstrates the invention of a mechanical crawling doll. It accompanied the patent submission of George Pemberton Clarke, who received U.S. patent No. 118,435 on 29 August 1871 for his “Natural Creeping Baby Doll.” The original patent office tag is still attached with red tape. Clarke’s patent was an improvement on the crawling baby doll patent of his associate Robert J. Clay (No. 112,550 granted 14 March 1871).
The doll’s head, two arms and two legs are made of painted plaster. The arms and legs are hinged to a brass clockwork body that actuates the arms and legs in imitation of crawling, but the doll moves forward by rolling along on two toothed wheels. A flat piece of wood is attached to top of the movement.
A commercial version of the doll is also in the collection. See also Cat. 2011.0204.01
This mechanical toy is part of a fascinating continuum of figures built to imitate human life. This long Western tradition stretches from ancient Greece through the mechanical automatons of the Enlightenment, through wind-up toys to contemporary robots and other machines with artificial intelligence.
Currently not on view
Object Name
mechanical doll, patent model
mechanical doll, patent model, automaton
patent model, doll, creeping baby
date made
patent date
Clarke, George P.
overall: 6 3/4 in x 3 5/8 in x 11 in; 17.145 cm x 9.2075 cm x 27.94 cm
overall - from catalog card: 6 in x 3 in x 10 in; 15.24 cm x 7.62 cm x 25.4 cm
associated place
United States: New York, New York
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
patent number
Science & Mathematics
Industry & Manufacturing
Sports & Leisure
Robots and Automatons
See more items in
Work and Industry: Mechanisms
Robots and Automatons
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Additional Media

Visitor Comments

2/27/2015 10:49:08 AM
Jen Baker
I was just wondering if you had, or knew where I might locate records concerning contemporary public responses to the Creeping Doll and whether it did well in production/how long it was sold for? Many thanks Jen
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