Isaac Babbitt

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Isaac Babbitt
Isaac Babbit (1799-1862) by Bass Otis, 1849, oil on canvas - Old Colony History Museum - Taunton, Massachusetts - DSC03743.jpg
Isaac Babbitt
BornJuly 26, 1799
DiedMay 26, 1862
Known forBabbitt metal

Isaac Babbitt (July 26, 1799 in Taunton, Massachusetts – May 26, 1862 in Somerville, Massachusetts) was an American inventor; in 1839 he invented a bearing made of a low-friction tin-based metal alloy, Babbitt metal, that is used extensively in engine bearings today.[1]

Babbitt was a goldsmith by trade, who experimented with metal alloys. In 1824 he made the first Britannia metal manufactured in the United States, from which he sold table wares as Babbitt, Crossman & Company. As this proved financially unsuccessful, he withdrew, and in 1834 moved to Boston. There he engaged as superintendent for the South Boston Iron Company, better known as Alger's foundries, where he produced the first brass cannon in the United States. Also while there, in 1839, he invented the widely-used anti-friction metal now known as Babbitt metal. For this invention he received in 1841 a gold medal from the Massachusetts Charitable Mechanic Association, and afterward the United States Congress granted him $20,000. He subsequently patented this material in England (1844) and in Russia (1847). For some time he devoted his attention to the production of the metal, and he was also engaged in the manufacture of soap.


  • "A Mode of Making Boxes for Axles and Gudgeons", U.S. Patent 1252, July 17, 1839 [1]
  • "Metallic Hones for Sharpening Razors", U.S. Patent No. 10,5254, May 23, 1854

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Hellemans, Alexander; Bunch, Bryan (1988). The Timetables of Science. Simon & Schuster. p. 305. ISBN 0671621300.
  • "Isaac Babbitt", Appletons Encyclopedia
  • "Isaac Babbitt", Encyclopaedia Britannica