Walter Hunt
Walter Hunt was an American mechanic. He lived and worked in New York state
New York
New York is a state in the Northeastern region of the United States. It is the nation's third most populous state. New York is bordered by New Jersey and Pennsylvania to the south, and by Connecticut, Massachusetts and Vermont to the east...

. Through the course of his work he became renowned for being a prolific inventor, notably of the lockstitch sewing machine
Sewing machine
A sewing machine is a textile machine used to stitch fabric, cards and other material together with thread. Sewing machines were invented during the first Industrial Revolution to decrease the amount of manual sewing work performed in clothing companies...

 (1833), safety pin
Safety pin
A safety pin is a simple fastening device, a variation of the regular pin which includes a simple spring mechanism and a clasp. The clasp serves two purposes: to form a closed loop thereby properly fastening the pin to whatever it is applied to, and to cover the end of the pin to protect the user...

 (1849), a forerunner of the Winchester repeating rifle, a successful flax
Flax is a member of the genus Linum in the family Linaceae. It is native to the region extending from the eastern Mediterranean to India and was probably first domesticated in the Fertile Crescent...

 spinner, knife sharpener, streetcar bell
Bell (instrument)
A bell is a simple sound-making device. The bell is a percussion instrument and an idiophone. Its form is usually a hollow, cup-shaped object, which resonates upon being struck...

, hard-coal
Coal is a combustible black or brownish-black sedimentary rock usually occurring in rock strata in layers or veins called coal beds or coal seams. The harder forms, such as anthracite coal, can be regarded as metamorphic rock because of later exposure to elevated temperature and pressure...

-burning stove
A stove is an enclosed heated space. The term is commonly taken to mean an enclosed space in which fuel is burned to provide heating, either to heat the space in which the stove is situated or to heat the stove itself, and items placed on it...

, artificial stone, street sweeping machinery
Street sweeper
A street sweeper or street cleaner can refer to a person's occupation or a machine that cleans streets, usually in an urban area.-History of street sweeping in the United States:...

, the velocipede
Velocipede is an umbrella term for any human-powered land vehicle with one or more wheels. The most common type of velocipede today is the bicycle....

, and the ice plough
A snowplow is a device intended for mounting on a vehicle, used for removing snow and ice from outdoor surfaces, typically those serving transportation purposes...


Walter Hunt did not realize the significance of many of these when he invented them; today, many are widely-used products. He thought little of the safety pin, selling the patent for a paltry sum of $400 (roughly $10,000 in 2008 dollars) to the company W R Grace and Company, to pay a man to whom he owed $15. He failed to patent his sewing machine at all, because he feared that it would create unemployment
Unemployment , as defined by the International Labour Organization, occurs when people are without jobs and they have actively sought work within the past four weeks...

 among seamstresses. (This led to an 1854 court case when the machine was re-invented by Elias Howe
Elias Howe
Elias Howe, Jr. was an American inventor and sewing machine pioneer.-Early life & family:Howe was born on July 9, 1819 to Dr. Elias Howe, Sr. and Polly Howe in Spencer, Massachusetts. Howe spent his childhood and early adult years in Massachusetts where he apprenticed in a textile factory in...

; Hunt's machine shown to have design flaws limiting its practical use). In seeking patents for his inventions, Hunt used the services of Charles Grafton Page
Charles Grafton Page
Charles Grafton Page was an American electrical experimenter and inventor, physician, patent examiner, patent advocate, and professor of chemistry....

, a patent solicitor who had previously worked at the US Patent Office. Like Howe, Hunt is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery
Green-Wood Cemetery was founded in 1838 as a rural cemetery in Brooklyn, Kings County , New York. It was granted National Historic Landmark status in 2006 by the U.S. Department of the Interior.-History:...

 in Brooklyn, New York.

Some of his important inventions are shown here with drawings from the patent.

External links

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