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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Model of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, about 1800Model of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, about 1800

In 1794 Eli Whitney received one of the first patents granted under the new U.S. patent system for his cotton gin. He spent the next several decades fighting in court to win royalties from the many manufacturers who made similar devices. The Smithsonian's several Whitney gin models are not patent models but demonstration models used in court cases and collected later to replace models lost in the Patent Office fire of 1836. They came to the Smithsonian in 1908, when the Patent Office transferred its collection of models of "historical character."

See also: Agricultural Artifacts, Patent Models

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