There ought to be a rule that all vintage items come with a handy dated box, like this L’Mode Muffler. It actually has the date on it in three different places, but the best and most useful one is beside the most useful of numbers – a US Patent number.
It’s really tempting to just look at a date – especially a patent date – and assume that it means the item was made in that year. No, what it means is that something about the design, either of the item or of the packaging, was patented that year. It means that the item could have been made that year, but could also have been made the next, or the next or, well, you get the point.
There are several ways to look up patents, including the US Patent Office’s official site, but to me, the easiest way is to use Google Patent. If you have the number, you can just type it in and most of the time you get the patent in question. Because there are several different kinds of patents, you will probably get multiple results, but read through the listing to find the correct one.
In this case, my muffler was made under patent number 963,235. It came up as “Muffler,” an easy enough item it find. A quick read through the paperwork reveals that the patent was held by Joseph Mead. In it he described the muffler in length, and included is a drawing of the muffler.
There is also some interesting information on the box. In a statement labeled “Condition of Sale” the buyer is informed that the retail price of the muffler cannot be less than 50 cents. The buyer agrees not to resell the muffler for less than 50 cents. I can’t help but wonder if Mead was successful in keeping the price up in this way.
The artwork is signed B. Lichtman, or possibly Tichtman. I could find nothing about the artist except that B. Lichtman has several similar drawings copyrighted. I’d appreciate any information about this artist.