Walter Hunt (inventor)

Walter Hunt (July 29, 1796 – June 8, 1859) was an American mechanic. He was born in Martinsburg, New York.[1] Through the course of his work he became renowned for being a prolific inventor, notably of the lockstitch sewing machine (1833), safety pin (1849),[2] a forerunner of the Winchester repeating rifle, a successful flax spinner, knife sharpener, streetcar bell, hard-coal-burning stove, artificial stone, street sweeping machinery, and the ice plough.[3]

Walter Hunt
Walter Hunt.jpg
Walter Hunt
Born(1796-07-29)July 29, 1796
DiedJune 8, 1859(1859-06-08) (aged 62)
NationalityUnited States
Known forfountain pen
sewing machine
safety pin
streetcar bell
hard-coal-burning stove
street sweeping machinery,
ice plough

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 $400[4] to the company W R Grace and Company, to pay a man to whom he owed $15. He is said to have failed to patent his sewing machine at all because he feared it would create unemployment among seamstresses. (This led to an 1854 court case when the machine was re-invented by Elias Howe; Hunt's machine shown to have design flaws limiting its practical use).[5] In seeking patents for his inventions, Hunt used the services of Charles Grafton Page, a patent solicitor who had previously worked at the US Patent Office. Like Howe, Hunt is buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York.

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


  1. ^ Advameg - Walter Hunt Biography
  2. ^ "Safety Pin patent - US Patent and Trademark Office". April 9, 2002. Retrieved October 28, 2011.
  3. ^ Marshall Cavendish, p. 845.
  4. ^ Discoveries
  5. ^ O'Dwyer, Davin (April 29, 2011). "Inspiring innovators: Walter Hunt". Irish Times. Ireland. Retrieved October 28, 2011.


  • Marshall Cavendish Corporation, Inventors and inventions. New York : Marshall Cavendish, 2007. ISBN 978-0-7614-7761-7, p. 845 ff.
  • Hunt, Clinton N. Walter Hunt, American inventor. New York: C. N. Hunt, 1935. OCLC 250585694
  • Kane, Joseph Nathan. Necessity's child : the story of Walter Hunt, Americaʼs forgotten inventor, Jefferson, N.C. : McFarland, 1997. ISBN 978-0-7864-0279-3
  • Post, Robert C. 1976. Physics, Patents, and Politics: A Biography of Charles Grafton Page. Science History Publications: New York.

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