Invented In Davenport: Examples of Davenport ingenuity

We came across this unusual ad from the Davenport Democrat and Leader from September 12, 1922.

We researched and found a John Flanagan of Davenport, Iowa applied for a patent for his Lifting-Jack on June 9, 1919, with the application being approved on January 27, 1920. The patent expired in 1937.

This led us to explore other inventions from Davenport. Some still impact us today, while others may not have caught on as initially hoped by their creators.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, February 9, 1914. Pg. 12

This stove lid featured in 1914 would retain heat and save a family money. Even better, it was invented by Davenport people with Davenport money!

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, November 27, 1921. Pg. 17

A. F. Victor of Victor Animatograph Company in Davenport came up with the idea of a movie slide projector that could be used in schools and churches where it wasn’t very dark. His concept is still used today. Two years later, the company released a 16 mm camera and movie projector which was an even greater success.

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, January 27, 1924. Pg. 32

Frank McElroy, a railroad conductor from Davenport, came up with a wonderful invention, an automatic shoe-shining machine that only cost a penny. We don’t know how successful this invention was, but it was featured in Popular Mechanics Magazine in February 1924!

The Davenport Democrat and Leader, August 13, 1926. Pg. 3

Owen R. Dailey of Davenport created this mystery case. At first, it appears to be a mirror, but then it suddenly changes to a display case. The idea of the cabinet is a person would approach and see an ordinary mirror then suddenly the lights would go on to show a living person or mannequin displaying clothing. Other store merchandise could be put on display in the case as well. Mr. Dailey would take out many patents over the years from toys to automotive parts before his death on February 29, 1952, in Rockford, IL.

The Daily Times, December 22, 1928. Pg. 5

What more needs to be said? Yes, the first bakery bread slicer was invented in Davenport, Iowa. The 1928 machine is in the collection of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington, D. C. Thank you Oscar F. Rohwedder for making our everyday lives easier.

Not really an invention in the traditional sense, but we also wanted to include a recipe created in Davenport. Al’s Lounge at 826 E. River Drive in Davenport was operated by Al Grandinetti for forty years. It was in the 1960s that Al began to promote his wineburger (and his wineburger with cheese) to his customers. To go with your wineburger, you could be served at the longest bar in the Midwest (according to Al) or enjoy Go-Go dancers in the 1960s and early 1970s with live music. In case you had trouble finding the establishment, Al placed a large Volkswagen Bug automobile on the roof. Al Grandinetti understood the art of promoting a business.

Al’s Lounge was across the street from the Robin Hood Flour Mill. While the mill has been gone since the 1975 explosion, Al’s building still stands and is currently a convenience and liquor store.

Maybe some of these inventions have sparked your own creativity. The Richardson-Sloane Special Collections Center in the Davenport Public Library – Main Street Branch is part of the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP). Not only do we have access to federal government documents, but our department is an all-electric designated U. S. Patent and Trademark Resource Center with support from the United States Patent and Trademark Office. Feel free to contact 563-888-3373 for more information or to make a reservation/receive training. Please read more about it here.

(posted by Amy D.)

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