Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
Grant Wilson, John Fiske and Stanley L. Klos. Six volumes, New York: D. Appleton
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MUNN, Orson Desaix, publisher, born in Monson, Massachusetts, 11 June, 1824. He received his education at the academy in his native town, and, deciding on a business career, entered a book-store in Springfield. After two years of this experience he returned to accept a more important commercial trust in Monson, but soon found his way to New York. In 1846, with Alfred E. Beach, son of Moses Y. Beach (q. v.), he bought the "Scientific American," then in the first six months of its existence. The purchase price of this property was less than $1,000, and it included a subscription-list of 200 names. Its founder, Rufus Porter, was continued as editor, and the enterprise, placed on a sound business basis, at once proved a success. It was the first popular scientific journal in the United States, and it is now the oldest, having a recognized standing throughout the civilized world, its function has been the publication of the record of the progress of art and science both at home and abroad. In 1876 the demand upon its space was so great, owing to the increased interest that resulted from the World's fair in Philadelphia, that a "Scientific American Supplement" was successfully begun, and has since steadily grown in circulation. An "Architect and Builders'" edition, published monthly, was established in 1885. Among the earliest requests made to the publishers of the "Scientific American " was for advice concerning the procuring of letters-patent for new inventions, there being at that time no professional patent solicitors. This department of the business developed with great rapidity, and a branch office for it was soon opened in Washington, D.C. For many years Munn and Co. enjoyed a virtual monopoly of this class of business, and upward of 100,000 applications for patents have been made by this house. Mr. Munn has strictly adhered to a. principle that he laid down early in life, never to invest a penny in any patented invention.
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