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Restored patent model of John Donn's fishing boat, about 1836

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Restored patent model of John Donn's fishing boat, about 1836
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Richard Strauss, Negative #: 2006-9719


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: before 1850

Marine Patent Models — Building Ships

Fishing boat patent model
Catalog #: 308,540, Accession #: 89,797
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

John Donn, a carriage builder in Washington, D.C., received a patent on March 6, 1835, for a fishing boat. After fire destroyed Donn's original model, the Patent Office created this replica and assigned Donn's invention the restored patent number 8673x.

Physical Description

The model's green paint has darkened and cracked over time. The model is 26 3/4" L x 11 3/4" W x 4 1/2" H.

Date Made:
after 1836
Transfer from the U.S. Patent Office

A fire destroyed the headquarters of the U.S. Patent Office in December 1836. Along with all the office's papers, every one of the 7,000 models it held was reduced to ash. Congress authorized the restoration of the lost drawings and the reproduction of the most important models. The restoration work, which lasted until 1849, included the construction of this model representing John Donn's construction improvement for fishing boats. Donn's patent specification does not survive, so it is unclear what the model demonstrates. The rows of pegs lining the boat's gunwales are presumably its key features, as they are keyed with letters on the model. They line up with the boat's thwarts (seats) and may be thole pins, or guides for oars.


John Donn, Fishing Boat, restored U.S. patent no. 8673x, March 6, 1835.

A Full Directory for Washington City, Georgetown, and Alexandria, 1834.

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