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The Patent Office And Museum

Volume 229: debated on Tuesday 30 May 1876

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Question

asked the Secretary to the Treasury, Whether it is true that a Committee of the Treasury has recently considered and reported on the Patent Office Museum; whether it is a recommendation of that Committee that all objects not patented, irrespective of their importance as illustrations of the progress of science and invention, shall be excluded from that Museum; whether he is aware that the collection of all patented inventions at Washington is stated by the American Commissioners of Patents to be of little or no service; whether, in the Loan Collection of Scientific Apparatus now exhibited at South Kensington there is any separation of patented from non-patented objects; and, whether such separation is not opposed to the Fourth Report of the Royal Commission on the Advancement of Science, which recommended the formation of a general collection of Physical and Mechanical Instruments under the authority of a Minister of State?

It is true that a Committee of the Treasury has recently considered and reported on the Patent Office, including the Patent Museum. Such inquiries and Reports are being constantly made, but they are confidential documents intended for the information of the Heads of Departments and the Government, and unless the Government lays them before Parliament it is a breach of official confidence to make the contents of them known, and largely interferes with their utility. It is a recommendation of the Committee that non-patented inventions should be ex- cluded from the Museum, because the Museum is intended to be ancillary to the Patent Office Library, and both Museum and Library to be ancillary to the business purposes of the Patent Office, which is not an institution for the general promotion of science. The question of patented or non-patented objects has never been raised in forming the Loan Collection of Scientific Instruments and Apparatus at South Kensington. They have been admitted only on the recommendation of Scientific Committees of Sections.