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John Ireland Howe

HOWE, John Ireland, inventor, born in Ridgefield, Connecticut, 20 July, 1793; died in Birmingham, Connecticut, 10 September, 1876. He began the study of medicine in 1812, and for several years was one of the resident physicians of the New York almshouse. Later he followed his profession in New York city, and in 1829 settled in North Salem, New York During his residence in New York he experimented on India rubber, and in 1828 obtained a patent for a rubber compound. After settling in North Salem, he built a factory for the manufacture of rubber, which was abandoned soon after, owing to lack of success. Mr. Howe says: "So far as 1 know, I was the first person who attempted to utilize rubber by combining other substances with, it, but I did not happen to stumble upon the right substance." He then began a series of experiments with a view of constructing a machine for the manufacture of pins, and, after laboring during the winters of 1830-'1, made a machine that was successful as a working model, and would make pins, though in an imperfect manner. He patented this machine in 1832, and during the same year was awarded a large silver medal by the American institute. A second machine was completed early in 1833, after which he went to Europe for the purpose of securing patents abroad. In January, 1834, he began the building of a machine, in Manchester, with which pins to the weight of 24,000 to the pound were made, but he was unsuccessful in disposing of his European patents, and returned to New York after an absence of about two years. Soon after his return the Howe manufacturing company was organized for the purpose of making pins with the machine he had invented. Dr. Howe was appointed general agent of the company, and continued in that capacity until 1865, having the management of the manufacturing department. Shops were fitted up in New York in 1836, but the factory was removed in 1838 to Birmingham, Connecticut Late in 1838 a new "rotary machine" was invented by Dr. Howe, which he patented in 1840. For upward of thirty years this machine was used without any material improvement or alteration, and in 1842 Dr. Howe was awarded a gold medal by the American institute for the "best solid headed pins," which were made on this machine. Subsequently he invented improvements in the methods used for "sheeting" pins, and was associated in the invention of means by which japanned "mourning pins" were made.

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