James Henry Atkinson

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James Henry Atkinson (1849–1942) was a British ironmonger from Leeds, Yorkshire who is best known for his 1899 patent of the Little Nipper mousetrap.[1] He is cited by some as the inventor of the classic spring-loaded mousetrap,[2][3] but this basic style of mousetrap was patented a few years earlier in the United States by William Chauncey Hooker in 1894.[4]

Little Nipper[edit]

A mousetrap very similar to Atkinson's Little Nipper design

Atkinson patented various inventions including a number of mousetrap mechanisms (GB189827488, GB189913277, GB190002503, GB190008317, GB190820769, GB191022542).[5] The mousetrap patents included a number of variations of the now classic snapping mousetrap consisting of a spring-loaded hinged metal bar mounted on a small flat wooden base. It slams shut in 38/1000[citation needed] of a second, killing the mouse by breaking its spine and causing shock and internal bleeding. Although some of his designs were more sophisticated (for example treadle activated triggers[6]) it is the simple ‘Little Nipper´ that was the most successful. The spring-on-board mousetrap design has captured a sixty-percent share of the British mousetrap market alone, and an estimated equal share of the international market.[citation needed]

James Atkinson sold his mousetrap patent in 1913 for 1,000 pounds to Procter, the company that has been manufacturing the "Little Nipper" ever since, and has even erected a 150-exhibit mousetrap museum in its factory headquarters.


  1. ^ "An Improved Bait Trap for Mice, Rats, and the like".
  2. ^ "The Patents". DiscoveringYorkshire.org. 24 October 2007. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011.
  3. ^ "James Henry Atkinson and the 'Little Nipper´". MyLearning.org. 14 January 2008. Archived from the original on 28 September 2007.
  4. ^ Patent of William C. Hooker's animal-trap in Google Patents.
  5. ^ "Espacenet - results".
  6. ^ "Improved Treadle Trap for Mice, Rats and the like".