Walter Hunt

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This article is about the American inventor. For other people named Walter Hunt, see Walter Hunt.
Walter Hunt
Walter Hunt.jpg
Walter Hunt
Born (1796-07-29)29 July 1796
Martinsburg, New York
Died 8 June 1859(1859-06-08) (aged 62)
Nationality United States
Occupation inventor
Known for fountain pen
sewing machine
safety pin
streetcar bell
hard-coal-burning stove
street sweeping machinery,
ice plough

Walter Hunt (July 29, 1796 – June 8, 1859) was an American mechanic. He was born in Martinsburg, New York.[1] Through the course of his work he became renowned for being a prolific inventor, notably of the lockstitch sewing machine (1833), safety pin (1849),[2] a forerunner of the Winchester repeating rifle, a successful flax spinner, knife sharpener, streetcar bell, hard-coal-burning stove, artificial stone, street sweeping machinery, the velocipede, and the ice plough.[3]

Walter Hunt did not realize the significance of many of these when he invented them; today, many are widely used products. He thought little of the safety pin, selling the patent for a paltry sum of $400 (roughly $10,000 in 2008 dollars)[4] to the company W R Grace and Company, to pay a man to whom he owed $15. He failed to patent his sewing machine at all, because he feared that it would create unemployment among seamstresses. (This led to an 1854 court case when the machine was re-invented by Elias Howe; Hunt's machine shown to have design flaws limiting its practical use).[5] In seeking patents for his inventions, Hunt used the services of Charles Grafton Page, a patent solicitor who had previously worked at the US Patent Office. Like Howe, Hunt is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

Some of his important inventions are shown here with drawings from the patent.


  1. ^ Advameg - Walter Hunt Biography
  2. ^ "Safety Pin patent - US Patent and Trademark Office". 9 April 2002. Retrieved 28 October 2011. 
  3. ^ Marshall Cavendish, p. 845.
  4. ^ Discoveries
  5. ^ O'Dwyer, Davin (29 April 2011). "Inspiring innovators: Walter Hunt". Irish Times (Ireland). Retrieved 28 October 2011. 


  • Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Inventors and inventions. New York : Marshall Cavendish, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7614-7761-7, p. 845 ff.
  • Hunt, Clinton N. Walter Hunt, American inventor. New York: C. N. Hunt, 1935. OCLC 250585694
  • Kane, Joseph Nathan. Necessity's child : the story of Walter Hunt, Americaʼs forgotten inventor, Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, 1997. ISBN 978-0-7864-0279-3
  • Post, Robert C. 1976. Physics, Patents, and Politics: A Biography of Charles Grafton Page. Science History Publications: New York.

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