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Margaret Knight

KNIGHT, Margaret (Mattie), American inventor, 1838-1914. At the age of 12 she developed a mechanical device to stop steel-tipped shuttles falling out of textile machines (a common cause of injuries). Margaret was watching her brothers at work when she had the idea. Later she made a machine to manufacture square-bottomed paper bags (as used for groceries). This was her first patent, applied for at the age of 30 and granted in 1870. These paper bags were in full production by 1879. However the path was not smooth, whilst having a metal prototype made an ironworker stole her idea and applied for a patent. Margaret successfully sued him and got back ownership of the patent. With the help of a businessman she formed the Eastern Paper Bag Company. Her royalties + shares + dividends made her financially comfortable. Following this, Margaret diversified and devised various shield/pin and clasp devices for holding clothing together. After 1890 she designed machines for cutting shoes. Other inventions included a spit, a numbering device, and a sash-window. Finally Margaret created a sleeve-valve suitable for motors and rotary engines. Many of her inventions involved machinery. Queen Victoria decorated Margaret for the bag-machine. Known in the USA as the Female-Edison because of almost 100 significant patents filed after 1870. But later patents were assigned to employers, so she did not die wealthy despite the paper bag income. Only 2 women inventors have been compared to Edison, these being Margaret Knight and Beulah HENRY

Prolific Inventor

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