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Enoch Hidden's port hole patent model, 1853

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Enoch Hidden's port hole patent model, 1853
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Richard Strauss, Negative #: 2006-9747


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: 1851-1869

Marine Patent Models — Who's Inventing?

Marine Patent Models — Building Ships

Port hole patent model
Catalog #: 308,552, Accession #: 89,797
Currently on display
From the Smithsonian Collection

Among its many products, wealthy merchant Enoch Hidden's New York City brass foundry made ship's portholes, also called side lights. Hidden received patents in 1848 and 1853 for improvements to side lights, and this is the model he submitted to the Patent Office for the latter one.

Physical Description

This model comprises a wooden backboard supporting a round, brass and lead stationary frame in which is mounted a moveable brass and glass light frame. The light frame pivots in two slotted ears that project at the top and bottom of the stationary frame, and it is secured in place when closed by two finger screws. A hook for holding the port open hangs from the backboard. Tags identifying the inventor and patent number appear on the left side and rear of the board. The model is 9 1/2" H x 8 1/2" W x 2 3/4" D.

Date Made:
New York
Transfer from the U.S. Patent Office

Portholes admit light and air into a ship, but need to be watertight and sturdy to withstand heavy weather. For this reason they are typically round, cast in strong metal, fitted with thick glass, and provided with screws or bolts to fasten them securely shut. Hidden’s porthole features special screws that cannot be completely removed from the frame and lost. Where the brass porthole frame passes through the side of the vessel, a lead ring prevents water from seeping between the frame and the wooden hull. Additionally, the light frame—the porthole’s window pane—pivots in projecting ears, which allow it to sit firmly in a rubber seal when closed, but “to be hauled from its seat” when opened “so as to allow the plane of the light to be placed at any angle to the main frame, thus freely admitting of ventilation.” Hidden’s patent was reissued twice, to himself in 1863 and to his son in 1864.

Enoch Hidden (ca. 1795-ca. 1865) ran a prominent brass foundry in Manhattan. He was father-in-law to the renowned New York shipbuilder William H. Webb.


Enoch Hidden, Side Lights for Ships, U.S. patent no. 9,811, June 21, 1853.

Enoch Hidden, Side Lights for Ships, patent reissue no. 1,533, Sept. 8, 1863.

Enoch S. Hidden assignee of Enoch Hidden, Side Lights for Ships, patent reissue no. 1,638, Mar. 15, 1864.

Rode’s New York Directory, 1852-53.

Wilson’s Directory of New York City, 1852-53.

Edwin L. Dunbaugh and Willaim duBarry Thomas, William H. Webb, Shipbuilder (Glen Cove, N.Y., 1989), 30.

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