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Model dies for stamping out pieces for metal boats and boat pieces

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Model dies for stamping out pieces for metal boats and boat pieces
Smithsonian Institution


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: before 1850

Marine Patent Models — Building Ships

Model dies for stamping out pieces for metal boats
Model dies for stamping out pieces for metal boats

Copper boat pieces
Copper boat pieces

Model dies and sample plates
Catalog #: 1645.8-.14, Accession #: 16,136
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection
In the mid-1840s, Joseph Francis developed a new method for using steam-powered hydraulic presses to stamp large sheets of iron into corrugated shapes to make boat hulls. His 1845 patent model for the process does not survive, but he donated these similar dies, with sample copper sheets formed on them, to the Smithsonian in 1885.
Date Made:
about 1846
New York
Gift of Joseph Francis

Joseph Francis experimented with boat construction methods throughout his life. Through a collaboration with the Novelty Iron Works in New York, he began to manufacture lifeboats, military cutters, and coastal rescue craft, as well as life preservers and similar gear, in the 1840s. His products proved popular among commercial steamship operators, life-saving stations, and the Navy. The Collins Line of express passenger ships, for example, adopted Francis lifeboats for its opulent ocean steamers in the 1850s. When the Arctic sank with great loss of life in 1854-but its patented metallic lifeboats survived-the company ordered more Francis boats for its remaining ships. Francis is best known today for designing an enclosed rescue craft called a life-car, the prototype for which is preserved by the Smithsonian. In 1848, the Patent Office denied him a patent for the life-car, saying it was already protected under Francis's own 1845 patent.


Joseph Francis, Making Boats and Other Vessels of Sheet-Iron, U.S. patent no. 3,974, Mar. 26, 1845

Letter, Joseph Francis to G. Brown Goode, Dec. 19 1890, NMAH accession file no. 16,136

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