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What fire, fashion, and patents have in common

In today’s look back into time we’re looking back to the 1790 Patent Act.

A Look Back In Time

1790 brought a flash and flare to society by encouraging innovation and protecting inventor rights (rather than the previous method of being handed off to a monarch’s control).

For the first time in history, individuals could grasp onto their ideas and benefit from it.

Now enters Mary Dixon Kies.

Mary is regarded as one of the first women to receive a patent for her solution to weave silk, thread, and straw for the newest fashion trend in hats for the early 1800s. On May 15th, 1809 Mary received her official patent.

While her historical breakthrough made it in the books, sadly her patent was lost among 10,000 others to a fire that swept through the halls of Blodget’s Hotel in 1836. The fire saw tremendous loss of progress and over three decades worth of patented designs disappeared in flames.

The fire is the very reason we have assigned numbers to patents today. Inventors needed multiple copies to ensure their patent would not be lost to disaster. Despite their efforts to keep patents safe, there were still two more fires in the reconstructed patent building…and thus history continues.

Inventor’s Impact



While fashion trends can be fleeting, Mary invented a new way of hat design that could be developed locally, rather than overseas. Her fashionable look even prospered during a war, which truly says something about women’s fashion during her life.

While Mary is regarded as the first woman to receive a patent, in truth there are other women who created patents around the same time period.

Stay tuned for the next issue where we talk about a love story that brought on a new wave of sewing techniques!

We are on a mission


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