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Mon, Mar. 8th, 2010, 05:28 pm
Sherburm Blodgett update

In my last post, I mentioned the "revolving shuttle machine" patented by Sherburm Blodgett, as discussed in an informative A4 sheet from the Sewing Machine Museum. However, doubts were raised in comments about Mr Blodgett; perhaps his name was not Sherburm but Sherburn? Google, after all, knew nothing about Sherburm, and had at least a couple of results for Sherburn.

I've now looked for relevant patents, and though I couldn't find the revolving shuttle machine, I can confirm that a Mr Sherburne C. Blodgett is the holder of a patent for "improving hemming and cording of umbrella covers".

That seems pretty conclusive. However, a search also shows one other patent belonging to Mr Blodgett: a patent for an eating implement, specifically an improved fork. For precisely how it's better, I turn you over to Mr Blodgett:
My improvement consists in constructing the ordinary fork so that the interstices of a portion of the fork between the tines shall be filled up by a metallic surface or web. By such a fork many articles of food can be more conveniently eaten than with the spoon which is now required; at the same time the tines of the fork can be made smaller and the whole fork rendered lighter without diminishing its strength.
So, basically, a spork. Now, I am as bored and irritated as anyone by society's now-thankfully-dormant conviction that SPORK, along with SPATULA and FISH, is an intrinsically hilarious pairing of word and concept that can act as a punchline to any joke (why did the chicken cross the road? SPORK HA HA HA). But Blodgett's protospork patent predates any known about by Wikipedia by twenty years, and also he's named Sherburne C. Blodgett for goodness' sake. This feels like a pretty significant discovery in sillywordsology.

Mon, Mar. 8th, 2010 05:53 pm (UTC)

I have never told a joke to which the punchline was "Spatula", but now I feel sad that I missed out on a time when it might have been acceptable.

Wed, Mar. 10th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)

What kitchen implement travels in time to put right what once went wrong? Scott Spatula!