Some things become so common, it's easy to forget there was a time before they existed. These 8 beautiful patent designs, graciously found and formatted by Primer reader ColbyJH, show the early lives of just a few of these kinds of things. The motorcycle. The Telecaster guitar. The bicycle. All had to be designed, built, and patented before they could be sold.
I love these prints: They're minimalist in design and work in any room with almost any kind of frame. They're beautiful line drawings – just imagine the skill needed to draw one of these before computers. They're also incredibly versatile. You can hang them vertically or horizontally, based on whichever works best for you or what you think looks the coolest.
They're offered here, free to download in two sizes. First, is 11×14, the common size of the Free Art Downloads. I love putting mine in $5 black frames from Wal-Mart. They look much more expensive than they are. Simply have them printed at Staples or Costco on 11×17 paper, for a buck or two a piece.
The second size is a gigantic 36×48, sized to be printed as a $7 engineering print at Staples the same way we did on our map project. For more detailed instructions on printing, check that article for specifics and more art ideas. Both sizes include a built in white border that mimics a matte.
Some of the patent prints aren't the earliest design, but may be a common variation or had the coolest drawing. And if you want to find more patent drawings check out Google's Patent Search.
The Motorcycle – Adam Ziska Jr., 1919
The Telecaster – CL Fender, 1951
Camera with Coupled Exposure Meter – E. Sauer, 1962
Double Edge Safety Razor Embodying Flexible Blade Pressure Control – Frederick L. Risher, 1972
Bicycle – EJ O'Connor, 1894
Precision Bass – CL Fender, 1952
Electric Guitar Design – Ted McCarty, 1955
Fender Guitar Amplifier – CL Fender, 1959