Location of original: Offices of Beem Patent Law Firm, Chicago, IL

Key Signers

President: Thomas Jefferson
Secretary of State: James Madison
Attorney General: Caesar Rodney

Patent Information

Date signed: January 18, 1809
Inventor: Richard S. Chappel
Invention Title: Machine for Dressing Flax and Hemp

One of the most unique items in the Beem collection is a patent for a “Machine for Dressing Flax and Hemp.” The patent was issued in 1809 and signed by President Thomas Jefferson and Secretary of State James Madison. The Seal of the United States is affixed to the patent and a blue ribbon binds the pages of the patent together.

In the display, a miniature portrait of the inventor Richard S. Chappell is shown below the patent page. To the right is a sampler made from a piece of fabric woven by the machine that is the subject of the patent. The text in the sampler was hand-embroidered and includes the inventor and his family.

Patent Transcript

The United States of America.

To all to whom these Letters Patent shall come:

Whereas Richard S. Chappel a Citizen of the United States, hath alleged that he has invented a new and useful improvement

being a Machine for dressing Flax & Hemp

which improvement he states has not been known or used before his application; has made oath that he does verily believe that he is the true inventor or discoverer of the said improvement, has paid into the Treasury of the United States, the sum of thirty dollars, delivered a receipt for the same, and presented a petition to the Secretary of State, signifying a desire of obtaining an exclusive property in the said improvement, and praying that a patent may be granted for that purpose:  These are therefore to grant, according to law, to the said Richard S. Chappel, his heirs, administrators, or assigns, for the term of fourteen years, from the eighteenth day of January 1809 the full and exclusive right and liberty of making, constructing, using, and vending to others to be used, the said improvement, a description whereof is given in the words of the said Richard S. Chappel himself, in the schedule hereto annexed, and is made a part of these presents.

In testimony whereof, I have caused these Letters to be made Patent, and the Seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed.

GIVEN under my hand, at the city of Washington, this eighteenth day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred & nine and of the independence of the United States of America, the thirty third.

Thomas Jefferson
By the President,
James Madison Secretary of State.

City of Washington, To wit:

I DO HEREBY CERTIFY, That the foregoing Letters Patent, were delivered to me on the eighteenth day of January in the year of our Lord, one thousand eight hundred and nine to be examined; that I have examined the same, and find them conformable to law. And I do hereby return the same to the Secretary of State, within fifteen days from the date aforesaid, to wit: — On this eighteenth day of January in the year aforesaid.

Caesar Rodney Attorney General of the United States

Patent Transcript – Back Page

A sufficient manner, slanting obliquely from the center in such manner that the dust or tow which comes from the flax or hemp will not adhere to them. The knives must also be so placed that each knife will gain about an inch forward on the board upon which the hemp or flax rests until the dressing cylinder has made one revolution. The board over which the flax or hemp is laid when dressing stands upright, with its upper edge as high from the surface of the floor as the axis of the dressing cylinder. The length of the laths of the dressing cylinder, to carry four knives may be about 9 ft. allowing at least two feet for each set of knives. The knives must be thin or somewhat elastic, so that they may spring a little when they strike the flax or hemp while dressing it. For the purpose of breaking the hemp or flax, I place upon each of the four sives of the horizontal shaft of the trundle head or wallower in that part which is over the dressing cylinder a piece of timber projecting about 8 In. from the shaft & 8 ft. long. These serve as combs or teeth & give motion to one end of the spring poles which are connected with the breaks. There may be one or more of these spring poles turning on an horizontal axis or roller, which lies parallel with the shaft of the trundle head. These spring poles lie horizontally in a transverse direction to the beam; one end of the pole reaching to the shaft where it is depressed by the combs or blocks on the shaft as they revolve giving a corresponding elevation to the opposite end of the pole, of the break below, to which it is attached by a rope, strap or connecting bar or pitman. The rise of the break will there for depend on the proportionate length of the spring pole on each side of the roller or axis in which it moves. To prevent these spring poles from rising too high or descending too low, there are other springs, which lie above & below them, which oppose their ascent or descent further than any assigned distanced. The breaks are formed in the usual way & are placed beneath the ends of the spring poles which communicate motion to them. One revolution of the wallower thus gives to each break 4 beats; one when each of the combs or ribs fastened to its shaft operates upon the opposite end of the spring pole to that which is connected with the break: acting in a mode similar to the trip hammer.

Richard S. Chappel


David Andrus
Dan Chappel

Patent Transcript – Cloth Sampler Text

Dan Chappell born Marh 24 1766
Experience Wash born Aprl 18 1760
were married Jan 31, 1782
the births of their children
as follows
Richard S Chappell Augst 5th 1783
Jerusha Chappell Dec 12 1784
James Chappell Dec 16 1786
Daniel W Chappell Marh 10 1789
Anna Maria Chappell May 12 1791
Jonathan W Chappell May 1793
Their deaths are as follows
Dan Chappell

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