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Webb's paint sample, 1879

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Webb's paint sample, 1879
Smithsonian Institution, Negative #: 81-4934


This object appears in the following sections:

Marine Patent Models — Complete Catalog: 1876-1880

Marine Patent Models — Working the boat

Paint sample
Catalog #: 80.16.8, Accession #: 1980.0016
In collection
From the Smithsonian Collection

Henry B. Webb of Brooklyn, New York, developed a new compound for sealing the caulked seems of wooden vessels in 1879. He sent this bottle of his preparation to the Patent Office with his application for a patent.

Physical Description

This patent sample comprises a round, clear glass bottle with a cork stopper, about 80% full of brown powder. The bottle is 3 5/8" high and 2" in diameter.

Date Made:
New York
Museum purchase

Wood hulls were made watertight by filling the seams with oakum, twisted rope fibers soaked in tar. The seams where then sealed with pitch or paint. Common linseed-oil paints were prone to cracking, and pitch would crack in cold weather and run out of seams in hot. "I have invented a seam-paint," Webb wrote, "which will preserve oakum or wood, will fill the seams partially or wholly, is elastic and water-proof, will not crack or melt, and will expand and contract with the swelling or shrinking of the vessel's planks in the various climates."


Henry D. Webb, Paint for Filling the Seams of Vessels, U.S. patent no. 221,881, Nov. 18, 1879.

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