Inventing Safety

Between 1790 and 1873, the U.S. Patent Office granted 163 patents for an amazing variety of life-preserving boats, rafts, clothing, and other gear. Many of them were invented with an eye toward the rise in passenger travel: life-preserving bedsteads, berths, buckets, bucket rafts, buoys, capes, chairs, stools, dresses, doors, garments, hammocks, mattresses, and even a “life-preserving hat.” Few of these inventions enjoyed practical success.

U.S. patent drawings for life-saving gear

Courtesy of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office