To the Editor of the Scientific American:

A friend has brought me a copy of the SCIENTIFIC AMERICAN SUPPLEMENT, of April 18, 1885, containing an article about a "steam jack."

Says Mr. J.G. Briggs, in the American Engineer: "Of its origin nothing is known." Also the invention is attributed to "Benjamin Baleh." I can give you the true history of the "steam jack." It was invented by my grandfather, John Bailey, of Hanover, Plymouth County, Mass. He was a minister of some note in the Society of Friends, or Quakers. - a man of superior mental ability, but poor in purse, for, like all early inventors, he reaped but little pecuniary benefit from his inventions. Among those inventions was the first iron sink in this country - if not in the world. A few years ago that sink was in use at his old home in Hanover. He also invented the crooked nose for the tea-kettle. Previous to that the nose was straight. Both sink and tea-kettle were cast at the Middleborough foundry. When he made the steam-jack he said, "In less than fifty years the common mode of travel would be by steam." People called him "steam mad." But about the jack. We have one in our possession of which your cut is an exact copy. We have used it several times. We also have the parchment patent, of which I send you a copy.

The jacks were not in general use, for soon after the invention the "tin kitchen," or "Dutch oven," as it was sometimes called, was introduced, and superseded the jack entirely, as people were afraid of being blown up by steam. The patent says, "John Bailey, of Boston," showing that at that early date Boston was considered the Hub, and that it was considered a good thing to hail from there. Hanover is about twenty-four miles from Boston.

Trusting I have not wearied you, I am,


Bleak House, Lynn, Mass., May 12.

Copy Of Patent

United States.

To all to whom these Presents shall come, Greeting. Whereas, John Bailey, of Boston, in the State of Massachusetts, hath presented a petition to the Secretary of State, the Secretary for the Department of War, and the Attorney-General of the United States, alledging and suggesting that he hath invented the following useful Machine, not before known or used, that is to say: A Steam Jack, consisting of a boiler, three wheels, and two wallowers; the steam which issues from boiling water in the said boiler gives motion to one of those wheels by striking on buckets on its circumference; on the outer end of the axle of the wheel is a wallower, the rounds of which fall into the teeth of a second wheel; on the axle of this second wheel is another wallower, the rounds of which fall into the teeth of a third wheel; on the axle of which third wheel is a spit: and praying that a patent may be granted therefor: and, whereas, the said invention hath been deemed sufficiently useful and important: These are, therefore, in pursuance of the Act, intitled an Act to promote the progress of useful arts, to grant the said John Bailey, his heirs, administrators, or assigns, for the term of fourteen years, the sole and exclusive right and liberty of constructing, using, and vending to others to be used, the said invention so far as he the said John Bailey was the inventor, according to the allegations and suggestions of the said petition.

In Testimony whereof I have caused these Letters to be made patent, and the Seal of the United States to be hereunto affixed. Given under my hand, at the City of Philadelphia, this twenty-third day of February, in the year of our Lord one thousand seven hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the Sixteenth. Go. WASHINGTON.

By the President,


CITY OF PHILADELPHIA, February 23, 1792.

I do hereby certify that the foregoing Letters-patent were delivered to me in pursuance of the Act intitled an Act to promote the progress of useful arts: that I have examined the same, and find them conformable to the said Act.


Attorney-General of the U.S.