Patent model windmill c.1860-70

The following description and photos accompanied an item autioned on eBay during April 1999. I thought the item so interesting (and the photos of such high quality), that they deserved to be permanently available. They are reproduced here by kind permission of the vendor Theresa.


This is an extremely rare patent model windmill c.1860-70. We've never seen another and you're not likely to either. It is a fully working model which depicts a mechanism designed to force the main mill wheel out of violent winds and then to release the mill back into the wind by the motion of a windmill weight.

It is 14 1/2 inches tall and 15 1/2 inches deep. It is in excellent condition save for a few broken blades. There is no rust or corrosion whatsoever to the working parts - none whatsoever.

The wood is gorgeous and the craftsman ship meticulous - every last pully, weight, counter-weight, and mill works perfectly. Every part is also perfectly viewable in its full range of motion. The model is so elaborate that it is likely that it was a salesmans sample.

Because so few windmills have survived, information on them is generally limited to pictures. This is a unique opportunity to own a working model of the invention that--by giving railroads access to underground water and farmers the ability to live on land where there were no rivers, streams, or lakes-- more than any other helped to settle the American west.

This is an exquisite model maker's piece, one probably made for the inventor/patent holder himself. This is not something someone made to simply replicate a windmill. It fully demonstrates the windmill's functionality. It may well, in fact, have been made to demonstrate that functionality to the inventor/patent holder.

The model makers skill was so advanced that even the minature nuts, bolts and screws were cast - probably of plated brass. The veined wheel is a cast hub and the mechanism plate was also cast specifically for this purpose. The pump parts are cast as well.

In order to better explain the windmill's operation: a wind activated arrester folds the directional vane parallel with the mill vanes. The shaft drive runs to the cam driver pump and a lever at the base of the piece activates the arrester system.

This is truly a museum quality piece.

whole model
model closeup model closeup model closeup model closeup

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Last updated 03/03/2017 Text and images © Mark Berry, 1997-2017 -
Portions © 1999 - Theresa