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Carlson, Chester Floyd (08 February 1906–19 September 1968), inventor and patent lawyer, was born in Seattle, Washington, the son of Olof Adolph Carlson, a barber, and Ellen Josephine (maiden name unknown). His father had emigrated from Sweden and suffered from severe arthritis, and both parents developed tuberculosis. The family moved briefly to Mexico for the warmer weather but returned to the United States in 1912 to settle on a rented farm near San Bernardino, California. For a time Carlson was the only student in a country school, and he rode into town on a bicycle to work at odd jobs. His mother died when he was seventeen, and he supported his father....

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Ewbank, Thomas (11 March 1792–16 September 1870), commissioner of patents, inventor, and historian of technology, was born in Durham, England. Little is known of Ewbank’s parentage or early life. He was apprenticed to a “Tin and Coppersmith, Plumb and Shot Maker” for seven years, and in 1812 he made his way to London, where he joined several literary associations sympathetic to the English liberal reformers of the period. In 1819 Ewbank emigrated to the United States, and in 1826, his wife, Mary, and the first of their six children followed, joining him in New York. There he began his professional career as an inventor and manufacturer of tin and copper tubing, occupying the late ...

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Jones, Thomas P. (1774–11 March 1848), science publisher and patent expert, was born in Herefordshire County, England, and trained as a physician. Little is known about his early life. As a young man he emigrated to the United States, possibly in company with ...

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Laurence Langner Photograph by Carl Van Vechten, 1934. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LOT 12735, no. 663 P&P).

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Langner, Lawrence (30 May 1890–26 December 1962), patent agent, playwright, and theatrical producer, was born in Swansea, South Wales, the son of Baruch Bernard Freedman, a businessman, and Cecilia Sarah Langner. (He took his mother’s maiden name.) He attended private schools in Swansea and in Margate, England. After a brief stint as a clerk for a theatrical manager in 1903, he was apprenticed to Wallace Cranston Fairweather, a chartered patent agent in London. Langner passed examinations of the British Chartered Institute of Patent Agents in 1910....

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Mortimer D. Leggett. Courtesy of the Library of Congress (LC-B8172-2047).

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Leggett, Mortimer Dormer (19 April 1821–06 January 1896), soldier, educator, and commissioner of patents, was born near Ithaca, New York, the son of Isaac Leggett and Mary Strong, farmers. When he was fifteen, his parents moved to Montville, Ohio, where for the next three years he helped his father clear and tend farmland. After attending night school, Leggett graduated first in his class from a teacher’s college in Kirtland, Ohio. He then studied law at Western Reserve College (later part of Case Western Reserve University). After being admitted to the bar, he attended medical school so that he could specialize in medical jurisprudence; he received an M.D. in 1844. That same year he married Marilla Wells of Montville; they had four sons and a daughter....

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Renwick, Edward Sabine (03 January 1823–19 March 1912), engineer, inventor, and patent expert, was born in New York City, the son of James Renwick and Margaret Anne Brevoort. James Renwick was an eminent teacher, engineer, and writer whose career was closely tied with the early history of Columbia University. Edward had two older brothers, Henry Brevoort Renwick, who also became an engineer and patent expert, and ...

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Selden, George Baldwin (14 September 1846–17 January 1922), patent attorney, was born in Clarkson, New York, the son of Henry Rogers Selden, an attorney, judge, and lieutenant governor of New York, and Laura Anne Baldwin. After graduating from St. Albans (Vt.) Classical Preparatory School, Selden attended the University of Rochester from 1861 to 1864, Yale College in 1865–1866, and Yale’s Sheffield Scientific School from 1867 to 1869, but he never completed a college degree. After joining the law offices of his father and uncle he studied law for three years and was admitted to the New York bar in 1871. In that same year he married Clara Drake Woodruff of Rochester; they had two sons and two daughters....