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Unusual Inventions - The flat bottomed paper bag

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by Startacus Admin

Perhaps at the time this was an invention not unusual because of its' design, but because this great idea was conceived, designed and tested by a Woman - the indignity! Or so it was at the time to some...flat bottomed bag

The story goes that Margaret E Khight, an inventor from an early age, (we are talking the mid 19th Century by the way) was working in a Paper Bag plant in Massachusetts. Frustrated that items placed in the paper bags never sat flat, she went about inventing a machine that could create a flat bottomed paper bag - the machine would do the work of folding and sticking the bag into place.

So, especially in the States, we have Margaret to thank for the flat bottomed paper bags you get given to pack your items in Supermarkets! However what is unusual about this invention, is that she had to go to court to prove that the invention was hers in the first place.

Charles Annan, a visitor to the factory where Margaret was testing her prototype, stole the concept of her machine and patented the design, initially taking credit for the invention. However Margaret, as costly as it was, took Annan to court. Annan argued that Margaret could not have designed the machine, after all she could not have understood the complexities involved - as she was a woman!

Thankfully, via witnesses, diary entries and complex drawings - Margaret was able to prove her case and the patent was overturned.

Startacus loves this story - and it's a lesson to us all. Don’t be held back by dogma, or expectations - great ideas, inventions and inventors don’t follow rules, they make them!

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Published on: 10th August 2012

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