This posting is a great piece written by Stephen McFarlane who is Information and Learning Service Manager for Libraries NI and is based in Belfast.
This is a great example of the interest that intellectual property, and patents in particular, can hold for people working in diverse fields, not least of all local and family history. It also demonstrates the type of complete service that you can receive from a public library using a range of resources.
So sit back relax and enjoy!
Belfast Central Library- Equine Adventures Down Under
Sometimes patent information isn't about the future but about the past, this is an interesting example……
Bill Ronald emailed us from Berwick, Australia asking for patent information about cast iron stable fittings and stalls he owned, manufactured by Musgrave’s of Belfast between the 1840s and 1870s. He had already unsuccessfully tried various Australian libraries.
Having found nothing in the online resources, we searched our historic hard copy collection and were able to emailed him scanned copies of the relevant U.K patents taken out by James Musgrave in 1867, Patent 993- ‘Fittings for stables, harness rooms, and cow houses’ and Patent 2698- ‘Improvements in stable, cow house, and harness room fittings’.
We were also able to provide information on the history of the Musgrave company, which primarily manufactured cast iron heating stoves. They traded in Belfast from the early 1800s until the 1960s and exported all over the world, the pre First World War German Empire being one of their biggest markets.
The stable fittings were originally purchased from Musgrave’s by a Melbourne based horse trading establishment called Kirk’s Bazaar, founded in 1840. This was a very successful company, particularly during the 1860s Australian Gold Rush. When the company folded in 1925 Bill’s great grandfather (who owned and trained Australia’s greatest ever steeplechase horse, ‘Mosstrooper’) purchased the 2 ton stable fittings and stalls.
The items consist of 1 complete fully enclosed stable, 3 tie up stalls, 3 stall, tie up, water, feed and hay rack sections and 5 decorative cast iron horse heads. Some of the stall posts are embossed with the Royal By Appointment and the Royal crest, along with mention of the relevant Musgrave patent.
It all sounds like a 19th century version of an IKEA flat-pack. The stable equipment was buried at the family farm for decades and dug up only last year by Bill. He has already started restoring the items by sand blasting them and hopes to paint them and reassemble them for display in a purpose built building.
Bill was very pleased with the information we sent him and said-
“Thank you for your welcome email and helpful advice, a pleasant change to receiving no reply at all. You really have been to a lot of trouble and I really appreciate it. Thank you again most sincerely for your assistance.”