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Ice auger, 1873

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Ice auger, 1873
Smithsonian Institution, Photo by Richard Strauss, Negative #: 2006-9733


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: 1870-1875

Ice auger
Catalog #: 1999.0086.03, Accession #: 1999.0086
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

William A. Clark of New Haven, Connecticut, received a patent for an auger to bore holes in ice, and this is the model Clark submitted with his patent application. His design added a small threaded point to the leading end of a standard, helical drilling bit. The point would cut a pilot hole into the ice, and its threaded sides would grip the ice, pulling and guiding the entire auger forward.

Physical Description

Clark's auger is a 5.5 inches long by 1 inch in diameter. It is made of steel.

Date Made:
New Haven
Purchase from the Farmers' Museum

"I have found by experiment that when an attempt is made to bore into ice with the ordinary gimlet or screw-point," William Clark wrote in his patent specification, "the point will not take hold on the ice, the screw simply fracturing and breaking away the ice around it so that the screw can get no hold in it." His "Improved Tool for Boring in Ice" aimed to solve this problem with its threaded leading point, which would grip the ice and hold the auger's "cutting-lips firmly to their work."

Clark described his improved auger as especially useful for fishermen in winter, when holes might be needed for running lines or for the insertion of explosive charges to break up the ice, "as is sometimes necessary in cases of an ice-gorge in streams or rivers."


William A. Clark, Ice-Auger, U.S. patent no. 139,769, June 10, 1873.

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