James Henry Atkinson

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search

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.