Help support the WCHA Forums by making a tax-deductible donation!

Patent Swivel Oar Locks or Rowlocks

Discussion in 'Research and History' started by Benson Gray, Mar 2, 2021.

  1. Benson Gray

    Benson Gray Canoe History Enthusiast Staff Member

    Dan's comment at https://www.wcha.org/forums/index.php?threads/kennebec-joy-boy.17541/page-2#post-90488 and our recent conversation about oar locks has lead me off down another research rabbit hole. It turns out that there have been thousands of patents over the years for oar locks and rowlocks. This really seems absurd because the concept isn't that complex. The Egyptians, Greeks, Vikings, and others solved this problem many thousands of years ago with a simple loop of cord or a slot in the gunwale.

    However, neither of us have been able to locate a patent that precisely matches the ones commonly found on old boats and sold now at https://www.shawandtenney.com/productdisplay/patent-swivel-rowlocks by Shaw & Tenney. The closest patent appears to be https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/fc/9e/55/d1318b8ac9d820/US44446.pdf from 1864 which was reissued in 1865 as shown at https://patentimages.storage.googleapis.com/6b/60/86/6eb06614e98a42/USRE1846.pdf under number 1846. I've not been able to find much information about Captain Joseph W. Norcross in either Boston, Massachusetts or Middletown, Connecticut although he did patent a number of other things.

    The comment shown below from page 768 of the 1884 book at https://www.google.com/books/edition/Bulletin_of_the_United_States_National_M/IIc7AQAAIAAJ indicates that the Wilcox, Crittenden & Company version of the swivel rowlock was based on the Norcross patent from 1864. This probably also shows that the Smithsonian Museum is likely to have a very old one stored away somewhere.

    Please reply here or let me know if anyone ever finds a closer patent match for these or an old Wilcox, Crittenden & Company catalog that shows them. Thanks,

    Benson



    Swivel-rowlock.jpg
     
    Last edited: Mar 2, 2021
  2. Dan Miller

    Dan Miller cranky canoeist Staff Member

    That is pretty much it, if you leave off the return spring. Easy to see why the spring would have been left off, as it complicates installation, and probably didn't work all that well.
     

Share This Page