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Useful And Fantastic: People They Laughed At - 8

Val Yule, who believes that every inventive idea should be given a chance, lists some of the many thousands of concepts patented in Britain in the first five years of the Twentieth Century.

Not all ideas have been good ideas, whether they were laughed at or not.

There are absolutely zany ideas which do not accord with the facts as we know them at present. For example, flying in gondolas supported by birds, or going by cannon-shot to the moon, or living on a diet of turnips.

How can you tell if an idea is zany or not? Are there some ideas that you just have to wait and see how they turn out. There are some hilarious books telling about zany ideas and mad patents.

Between 1901-1905 over 140,000 British Patents were granted. Here are some of them of them - some which failed and some which worked.

* Perpetual motion machines - 46 were patented in the four years between 1901-1905
Hornby Meccano

* A clip-holder to take boiled eggs out of hot water

* Sun-screens for horses

* Arm-rests for violin players

* Moustache guards

* Clothes for babies and children designed to be easier to put on and remove

* A portable foot and body warmer

* Advertisements on toilet rolls that change as paper is removed

* improved shelter for watchmen

* An improved train containing a brush for ladies’ long skirts

* A trap for burglars attempting to open safes

* Staircases in schools designed so that boys and girls will not pass each other going up or down

* A hat ventilator for top hats

* Safety razor

* Ways to fix ladies’ hats on their heads

* Ways to stop your hat being stolen

* A way to use the breath to heat the outer body

* A device to hold down ladies' skirts when taking exercise

* The Wright’s improved aeronautical machine

* A motor car that can go up stairways

* Apparatus for throwing animals into the air for exhibition purposes

( Windguard for cigarettes

But sometimes a zany idea leads to a good one. And when people are enthusiastic about inventing, the enthusiasm is like fertilising compost for the good ideas too.


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To read earlier sections of this series please click on http://www.openwriting.com/archives/useful_and_fantastic/

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