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Patents: 1836 U.S. Patent Fire

Introductory information on patents and patent searching.

1836 Patent Fire

On December 15, 1836 the building temporarily housing the Patent Office caught fire. All of the approximately 10,000 patent documents from 1790-1836 and some patent models were destroyed. According to the U.S. Patent Office, only 2,845 patents were restored. These patents were given a new number beginning with the letter 'X'. You can read more about the Patent Office fire at

Many patent documents with historical significance were lost in the fire. If you are researching U.S. inventions from 1790-1836 it may be difficult or impossible to find the original patent. However, there are other ways to research inventions from this time period. Below are some databases, books, and magazines that can be helpful in finding information about an invention from this time period.


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Willow Dressel
Engineering Library
Fine Hall, Princeton University
Engineering Library Website