From 1790 to 1880, the U.S. Patent Office required that patent applications for a new inventions must have a model accompanying them. When the requirement was abolished, there were around 200,000 such models. Some went to the Smithsonian, while most were bought by Sir Henry Wellcome. After Wellcome’s death, the collection was split and many were obtained by Alan Rothschild, who founded the Rothschild Petersen Patent Model Museum.
But before you look through the tiny treasures at the museum’s website, take a little quiz and see if you can guess what the machines represented by the patent models do. You will no doubt score better than I did -I only got seven out of twenty right! -via Metafilter
(Image credit: Rothschild Peterson Patent Museum)