Comment: PATENT FILES HOLD MARK TWAIN STORY, 1939 Discovery!

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PATENT FILES HOLD MARK TWAIN STORY, 1939 Discovery!

Yes, siree. His pantent was most valuable. Mine were much more down to earth... My patents I mean. Here is my first one of three.
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PATENT FILES HOLD MARK TWAIN STORY, New York Times, March 12, 1939

Believed to Be Only One He Swore To as Being True It Is Based on Vest Strap. How He Invented an Elastic Belt to Tighten Garment at the Waist.

NY Times. WASHINGTON, March 11. - A short story by Mark Twain, hitherto unpublished, to which might be given the title "How I Made My First Invention," has just come to light here in documents recently discovered in Patent Office files. It is probably the only story the famous humorist wrote which was supported by an affidavit to its truthfulness.

What led Mark Twain to write the story was his invention of a vest strap, on which he filed an application for a patent on Sept. 9, 1871. It was the usual strap placed at the back of a vest for tightening the garment around the waist and the invention itself was intended to make the strap elastic, detachable and adjustable in length. It fastened to the garment with buttons and buttonholes and could be removed when desired and used with pants and even ladies' corsets.

But Mark Twain's application ran into difficulties, the documents reveal. Somebody else, one Henry C. Lockwood of Baltimore, Md., had thought of the identical invention and had also filed an application for a patent. Before the Patent Office could grant a patent to either inventor it had to institute an "interference," a contest to determine who made the invention first. The Commissioner of Patents notified both Mark Twain and Mr. Lockwood of the interference, and the next step for each was to file a paper called a "preliminary statement," in which each was to set forth the essential dates and facts relating to the making of the invention.

Replied in Short Story: Instead of filing a bare formal recital in numbered paragraphs, as is the usual practice, Mark Twain wrote a short story which must have been a welcome change to Patent Office officials. It is dated Hartford, Conn., Oct. 6, 1871, and is addressed to "Hon. M. D. Leggett, Com'r of Patents, Washington." Written by hand on plain correspondence paper, the newly discovered original reads as follows:

PATENT FILES HOLD MARK TWAIN STORY, 1939

Disclaimer: Mark Twain (1835-1910-To be continued) is unlicensed. His river pilot's license went delinquent in 1862. Caution advised. Daily Paul