by third planet living
Hello all! Long time to see… I have not been very theatrically active these past weeks, but now that Bleeding Kansas is in full swing, I figure I’ll give you a little update in the land-o-props.
My week has been spent scouring the internet, trying to get a better feel for the 1850’s. I’ve been researching simple household items like envelopes, pencils, coffee pots, playing cards, and am attempting to make a corn cob pipe.
While that’s been incredibly fun and informative, my MOST EXCITING moment this week came as I was researching the Beecher’s Bible rifle, and found the drawings from its patent, issued September 12th, 1848. Basically, Christian Sharps, the inventor, created a way to load the gun more quickly, through the breech side of the barrel instead of down the muzzle.
You guys, I was unreasonably excited! I knew the patent date was Sept 12th 1848, so I pulled up all of the patents from that day, (there were thirteen total), and just went down the list, opening each one. Washing machine, bellows pump, various types of shingles… and maybe the sixth or seventh one, (I kid you not, my heart actually started beating faster), C.Sharps. Breech-Loading Fire-Arm. Patent number 5763.
What chilled and thrilled me, was looking at these mechanical drawings… with their parts lettered and explained in beautiful handwriting… looking so innocent there on the page, so clean… and then making the connection that this particular gun was invented to diminish loading time, or in other words, to make the business of killing people faster.
This object, with its levers and welded metal and ingenious design brought more terror to people than any of us can ever imagine. And it started as a drawing.
I am in love with 5763. And the U.S. Patent Office.
Have a look: