Patent Model for Ship Framing, 1838

Patent Model for Ship Framing, 1838

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This patent model accompanied Henry Higginson’s patent application for "Improvements in the Mode of Building Ships." Higginson, who received patent number 673 on April 4, 1838, thought wooden ships could be made stronger if more principles from "ordinary carpentry" were applied to "the perfecting of naval architecture" without any material increase in their cost or loss of room for stowage.
Foremost in his thinking was the extensive use of diagonal bracing. The rib-like frames that constitute the skeleton of typical wooden hulls extend in Higginson's design only from the keel to the approximate level of the load waterline. Above this point, he specified diagonally crossing timber braces, either placed between short upright ties (as seen on one side of the model), or running between long timber bands reinforced by occasional iron straps (as on the other side). Outside the diagonal braces, Higginson placed multiple horizontal courses of long-grained planking, rigidly fastened together with treenails or bolts and insulated by waterproof paper or cloth. Along the bottom the hull is double planked. Other details less easy to pick out on the model are the double-rabbeted keel, longitudinal ties connecting the floor timbers, and the extensive use of wedges to brace the entire construction together.
Currently not on view
Object Name
hull construction, framing model
patent model, ship building method
Object Type
Patent Model
Other Terms
patent model, ship building method; hull construction; Maritime; Ship
Date made
patent date
Higginson, Henry
Higginson, Henry
associated place
United States: Massachusetts, Boston
Physical Description
wood (overall material)
overall: 25 1/2 in x 7 1/2 in x 5 1/2 in; 64.77 cm x 19.05 cm x 13.97 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
patent number
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Work and Industry: Maritime
America on the Move
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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