Letter | Published:

Early British Patent Grants


THE contributor of the “Calendar of Discovery and Invention” appearing in the pages of NATURE has in the issue for Feb. 26 fallen into a not uncommon error, when he records Mar.–2, 1617, as the date of the first British patent for invention. This certainly is not the case. The reasons that caused the then Commissioners of Patents to start the famous official series of English patents with the year 1617 were purely fortuitous, and in no way endow this particular patent with any special claim to immortality. The researches of Mr. Hulme and others have brought to light a large number of earlier grants, mostly by Elizabeth and James I., but including one (that to John of Utynam for the making of coloured glass) so early as 1449, and it is to this one that the distinction of priority must for the moment be given.

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