Stock Number: 9284


For sale, an original American patent model submitted as part of a patent application. It is a design for protecting ships from lightning, by lining with metal the vessel interior above the water line, and exterior below the water.


12x8-1/4x 5 inches (30x21x13 cm)



Country of manufacture

North America

Categories: Early Technology, Other Maritime Antiques


LIGHTNING PROTECTION ON THE WATER, American, 1858, signed “Roswell W. Haskins, Buffalo, N.Y.,” comprising the original model submitted to the U.S. Patent Office, as part of the application resulting in the granting of patent 20877, issued 13 July 1858. The model is made of wood, painted, and clad with brass sheeting in various places inside and out. Measuring 12″ x 8-1/4″ x 5″ (30 x 21 x 13 cm), it is in the form of the stern portion of a ship, hollow, and with three open ports. Condition is good noting some scratches to the paint, a few fragments of wood missing, and darkening of the brass sheeting.

Haskins writes, in his application, “The nature of my invention relates to protecting vessels from lightning by means of lining all parts of the vessel above the water-line on the inside with metal, and making a proper connection thereof through the cabin-windows and other openings through the vessel to sheets of metal passing down the stern and sides of the vessel to the water.” He argues that lightning at sea has perfect electrical conduction through the water, and that when a ship is struck the real danger occurs if there is a gap in the conductive path to the water. A massive spark will jump the gap, often setting fire to flammable cargo, etc. Thus he proposes lining the bases of the masts, the deck of the vessel (under the wood planking), the hatchway and window surrounds, and inside and outside of the vessel down to the water line, all with sheets of copper “so laid on and connected to each other as to form one entire sheet of perfect and uninterrupted conduction from the deck and sides of the vessel inside to the water on the outside.”

A fine protection against the lightning danger to wooden ships, presented here in the unique model originally supplied, as required, to the U.S. Patent Office.

Ask the Dealer

Item enquiry

To enquire about this item, complete the form bellow to send a message to the Dealer

Enter Email
Confirm Email

Dealer information


David and Yola Coffeen both have enjoyed academic careers, as planetary astronomer and as linguist/educator. But since 1982 (yes, 1982!) they have been full-time dealers in early scientific and medical instruments, under the name Tesseract. Selling primarily by catalogue (over 100 issued so far) they also have a web presence at, and can be contacted at [email protected].

Shipping information
Payment methods
Terms & conditions