The Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum is the largest privately-owned viewable collection of United States Patent Models in the world. Containing nearly 4,000 patent models and related documents, the collection spans America's Industrial Revolution.
The Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum collection is currently located in a custom-designed facility in Cazenovia, New York. Alan Rothschild – an inventor himself—has constructed an impressive facility to display hundreds of the models, along with a workshop/laboratory where the remaining models are stored, studied and cared for. Models are viewable by appointment only.
With such limited space, Rothschild can display only a fraction of his entire collection. Many of these precious artifacts are in temporary storage and many remain in their original packing materials, untouched by human hands for many decades.
The patent models journey began shortly after the birth of the United States. The Patent Act of 1790 required that anyone applying to the U.S. Patent Office for a patent, submit a model of the their invention. Over 200,000 models were submitted during the subsequent 90 years, but after two fires and a growing lack of space, the model requirement was abolished in 1880.
Congress permitted the Smithsonian Institution to select some models, but the bulk was sold at auction in 1925. The winning bidder was Sir Henry Wellcome, founder of Wellcome Pharmaceutical Company (now known as Glaxo Smith Kline). After Wellcome's death, the collection was broken up and thousands of models were sold off by a succession of private owners.
Alan Rothschild acquired the remainder of the original collection in the 1990s from aerospace engineer, Cliff Petersen, and established the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum in 1998. Since then, Mr. Rothschild has added to the Museum with purchases of smaller patent model collections from around the United States, including the purchase of all 82 models in Carolyn Pollan's Patent Model Museum in Fort Smith, Arkansas.
For more information on the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum, please contact us.