This is terrifying! Two faced teddy bear anyone?

This is terrifying! Two faced teddy bear anyone?

Feast your eyes on the original Two Faced Teddy! One side is an adorable, cuddly teddy bear. The reverse, a po-faced human staring at you with dead eyes.

Drawing from a pattent showing a two faced teddy bear. Front has teddy face, back has a creepy human face

DOUBLE-FACED TEDDY BEAR. LOUIS S. SCHIFFER Application filed December 16, 1913 | Patented June 9, 1914.

Not sure how I stumbled across this one. I was looking for patents dealing with early radium products and became sidetracked. The sketch gives me the giggles when I look at it. The heads look like they were transplanted onto Mr. Peanut’s body. Poor Mr. Peanut, we hardly knew you.

A toy comprising in combination, a body, and a head for said body, said head having two faces thereon looking in opposite directions, one of said faces resembling that of a bear and the covering of said head being arranged to form projections serving as ears for said bear’s face, the other of said faces resembling that of a person and the cover of said head being arranged around said person’s face in the form of a cowl whereby said projections serve likewise to give a clownish effect.

Patent letters

Can you imagine waking up and seeing this staring at you? A furry human clown glowering at you in the dim light?

The actual design is quite interesting. The head swivels 180 degrees using disks and rivets/pins. The arms and legs employ swivel joints so they would be flexible.

… the head being attached to the body  by means of a swivel joint so that it can turn easily to the left or right through 180°
and sit steady and parallel with the body when facing in either direction.  Patent letters

The only example I could find of a two faced bear similar to this patent, was produced by the renowned stuffed animal maker Bernhard Hermann, sometime between 1930-1940. I could find no reference to any being developed by Louis Schiffer. I’ve tried looking for German patents for the Hermann bear as well, but had no luck. I was curious as to whether Hermann was aware of Schiffer or had developed the two-faced bear independently. They are strikingly similar.

Photo of a 2 faced teddy bear made by Hermann co.

Let’s go play in the forest. You’ll be safe. Trust me!

It’s very close to the patent, right down to the swivelling head and moveable arms. This toy is slightly less terrifying than the one in the 1914 diagram, very slightly.  The doll/bear screams out clown in the sewers asking if you want a balloon. Then again, I’ve never been a fan of dolls, so maybe it’s me.

If you’d like to see the bear in more detail, saunter over to Ruby Lane and check out it out.

We were promised magnificent flying cars

We were promised magnificent flying cars

I know I promised irradiated feet, but I couldn’t pass up the Edsel of flying cars. Take a moment to appreciate the breathtaking fins on this:

Sketch from the Einarsson Flying Car patent showing front and side as a car

Einarsson Flying Car patent

Every time I look at the drawing, I think it needs to be a deep cherry red with chrome so bright you need sunglasses to withstand the glare. Sarcasm aside, this design is very much a product of the times. Designed in the late ‘50s and patented in 1963, the Einarsson Flying Car has an admirable meshing of luxury car with the sleekness of a James Bond getaway vehicle. Oh, and those fins!

The dream of turning a car into an airplane goes back to at least the 1930s.  I remember the “future of tomorrow” films of the 60s that had us zipping around with our own personal jetpacks and Jetson-like flying cars by the turn of the century. The future was so full of yet to be conquered technological wonders that would make our lives easier. Instead of flying cars in every driveway, we ended up with Twitter in every pocket. The disappointment is crushing.


A few actual working flying car prototypes have made if off the drawing board. The most notable being the 6 designs build by (Molt) Taylor Aerocar in the late 40s and 50s. One was still flying as late as 2008 and there’s a website devoted to people hoping to buy one. They look like traditional 2-seater aircraft with larger, road ready wheels, except for the Taylor III, which resembles a Franken-mini. Looking at Taylors got me thinking about other attempts, which in turn led me to one Einar Einarsson and his patent for a Flying Car.

Patent 3,090,581
May 21, 1963
Filed Aug 12 1959
Inventor: Einarsson Einar

A vehicle capable of cruising on land and in the air comprising a body, a plurality of wheels mounted under the body to support the vehicle while on the ground, means for supplying power to the wheels for cruising on the ground, front and rear propellers mounted on the body to provide for take-off and cruising power when in the air, and a pair of pivotally mounted wings secured on the body and being adjustable as to the angles to the horizontal for take-off and cruising positions for the wings, said propellers being connected to receive power from the power supplying means and the wings forming a wing extending from the front propeller to the rear propeller with a bridging element to receive the pressure between the propellers

Einarsson’ s design borrows heavily on the Aerocar idea, with a number of alterations that shows a bit of forward thinking. Looking through the cited patents in Einarsson’s filings, I find it curious there are no references to Molt Taylor’s patents. However, I’m neither a lawyer nor an engineer and my knowledge of both is just enough to show how much I don’t know.

A sedan with wings

Unlike almost every flying car design I looked at, Einarsson seemed to envision a luxury sedan with wings, rather than a compact, economical model. It would be the ultimate marriage of the sleek 1950s tail fin stylings with a private aircraft.

Sketch from the Einarsson Flying Car patent showing front and side with propellors showing

Einarsson Flying Car patent showing front and side with propellers

The Taylor flying car relied on a push propeller. For those in the audience who aren’t aviation fans, let’s take a quick break to explain. The rest can skip down a few paragraphs. Aircraft today (excluding jets) generally have the propeller on the front of the plane – either on the wings or the nose. This is referred to as a pull propeller because it pulls the airplane forward. Although this is considered the traditional form, the earliest aeroplanes used a push propeller. Here are two famous examples:

Here’s a Farman biplane

Scan of a postcard showing a Farman biplane in flight

And one of my favourites, Alexander Graham Bell’s Silver Dart:

Photo of the Silver Dart biplane in flight

The Silver Dart

Sketch from the Einarsson Flying Car patent showing front and side with propellers showing

Front and side with propellers

See the difference with modern airplanes? The propeller is seated to the back (behind the pilot) and pushes the airplane forward. Many pioneer aeroplanes used this style and, if you poke around google a bit, you can find a couple modern planes that use it as well, though it’s not very common.
The Einarsson Flying Car proposed using both the push and pull propellers in what is called a push-pull configuration. This has some benefits re: drag and stability if one engine dies but it also greatly decreases fuel efficiency.

The hood and trunk pop open so propellers can slide out and be affixed front and back.  “A further object of the invention resides in a flying car with front and rear propellers of which the front propeller is of the pulling type and the rear propeller is of the pusher type”.

The added weight along with 2 engines capable of creating enough lift stirs up a few questions. Looking at one of my favourite pioneer planes – the Antoinette Flyer (1906), the V8 engine in that wood and cloth aeroplane weights 209 lbs alone. I wonder how large an engine would need to be to lift a large, steel, 2 propeller car with wings, carrying both driver and passengers. Modern aircraft have the advantage of lightweight materials to help with the tricky weight problem. They also benefit from modern micro circuitry that creates efficient instrument panels. Neither of which were available in the early 60s. The Einarsson Flying Car would be the original heavy metal behemoth. The patent makes no mention of instrumentation and glosses over engines, two crucial components. Perhaps Einarsson was more interested in basic over-all design at this stage.

 … each car may have a common plant to drive both the ground wheels as well as propellers with suitable clutch devices to control one or the other cruising power. Separate power plants may be used for air travel jet engines may also be used with and without the use of propellers.

There wasn’t a hope in hell a jet engine was going to be affixed to the car. Imagine the havoc caused on roads when someone kicked on the engine. The backwash alone would be a public hazard. One also has to wonder what the noise level would be inside the car with both engines running whether jet or regular.  

Getting back to the patent, Einarsson envisioned foldable wings, although this is also frustratingly vague. The best I can figure is they would fold flat against the body when not used. This wasn’t going to be a one touch convertible model. To use the wings, the driver would have to pull them out and affix them, which sounds a bit like an arm strong application – better have a strong set of arms to put them in place. I’ll leave you to read about the wings and let me know how you think they’ll work.

Sketch from the Einarsson Flying Car patent showing side view

Move over Jetsons

The sheer weight alone would make this one expensive vehicle to run. Which led me down another rabbit hole or two of conjecture – what about fuel. The basic car would run on regular gas, but the air and jet options would require special fuel. Without easy access jet fuel, the lack of infrastructure doomed that part of the design, not to mention proper pilot training to run a jet-propelled aircraft. I also wondered how much space the vehicle would need for takeoff. This isn’t a compact little Taylor Aerocar. As I wrote earlier, this would be a behemoth of steel, chrome, and engines. I wonder what the overall weight would be. I have about 20 other questions but, I’ll save them for another discussion because I can see another couple of patent articles in the making.

So where now with the promise of flying cars?

Though most entrepreneurs like Elon Musk have abandoned the idea as impractical, there are companies currently building working prototypes. Look at the heart stopping lines on this beauty:

Photo of the new Aeromobile flying car

Aeromobile flying car

It’s from Aeromobile in Slovakia and boasts a vertical takeoff, a parachute system embedded, lightweight materials, stowable wings much more.  To me these vehicles are as exciting as early pioneer airplanes like the Bleriot, Silver Dart and Antoinettes. My interest in aircraft pretty much ends with the advent of metal frames. Biplanes, especially pioneer aircraft, get my heart racing in a way very little else does. But modern flying car designs seem to be triggering the same effect on my pulse, so I’ve been deep diving into flying car patents, having fun looking at the ideas pushing them forward. And yea, I’d go for a fly in one in a heartbeat. Hand me the waiver, strap me in and let’s go!

Read more: 

  1. EINARSSON FLYING CAR patent US3090581A
  2. Taylor Aerocar and for information on the brilliant mind behind it.
  3. Molt Taylor is one of those wildly underappreciated pioneers and I highly recommend you spend time googling his name.
  4. This is my absolute favourite airplane Antoinette Flyer:
  5. Silver Dart:
  6. Farman Aviation:
  7. Aeromobile:
Where the hell are the patents?

Where the hell are the patents?

I’m working on a number of new articles for the patents section. It just takes so dreadfully long to do the research and pull them together. Well, not almost a year long. That’s a 50/50 combination of too busy and too lazy to do extracurricular work. I have a backlog of about 50 patents in my archives I’ve been sifting through, and these are the ones I’m focusing on:

1938 shoe fitting machine patent – complete with a dose of radiation

Patent for foot flouroscope - how about a dose of radiation with that shoe fit?Alexander Graham Bell’s 1902 patent for his aerial kite

Page from Alexander Graham Bell's 1902 aerial kite

An 1892 submarine patent

Page from an 1897 submarne patent

Fitted sheets – because who doesn’t like a patent for a torture device

Page from patent for fitted sheets

The Bell patent is going to take a lot more research, so it is an unlikely candidate. It may be the fitted sheets because the entire contraption is so over complicated and vicious looking, I can’t resist.  If you have a preference, drop a line in the comments section. I’ve had to layer on quite a bit of spam protection so you’ll have jump through a few spam prevention hoops, but I do enjoy hearing from people. If you have an idea for me to explore, I’d be thrilled to hear it.


What’s old is new again – 1902 called & wants its B-2 Stealth back

What’s old is new again – 1902 called & wants its B-2 Stealth back

I was amused by a discussion on-line not long ago where someone asked “what did people do before technology”, meaning back in the dark days of the 1980s.  I chuckled because of the assumption technology is shiny new and millennial. It often comes as a shock to people when you point out the wheel is technology and that  tech is nothing more than the “application of scientific knowledge for practical purposes, especially in industry” (Oxford dictionary).  

So … I thought it might be fun exploring tech – of all types. I often wander through Google’s Patent search engine looking for cool stuff. My favourites are proposals that never quite made it off paper. Not all were fails, some were simply ahead of their times. Some were a combination of too soon and too impractical. To wit: Theodor Gibon’s, of Clarksville, Tennessee, aeroplane (Patented Sept 30, 1902):

image of the Theodore Gibon V wing aeroplane patent 1902

Look vaguely familiar? While everyone was mad for straight wing designs, in 1902 good old Theodore took a different approach. He created a sleek, single delta that was ahead of it’s time in terms of wing design. This sweeping v resembles the modern B-2 Stealth bomber. Or rather, the B-2 looks like the T. Gibon aeroplane. Okay, yes I agree, the Gibon looks more like a paper airplane, but you get my point.

Andreas Theodor Heinrich Gibon, born in Bremen, Germany, was living in the US around the turn of the century.  Although the records show he immigrated in 1895, he still identified himself as a German subject at the time of filing the patent – “Be it known that I, THEODORE GIBON, a subject of the Emperor of Germany, and a resident of Clarksville, in the county of Montgomery, State of Tennessee”.   The census records of 1910 ad 1920 show he had settled into a job as a tobacconist in a local factory so I guess, by 1910, he had given up hopes of developing aircrafts any further. Searching for any other patents in his name came up empty.

You can read the full patent here: It’s 2 pages and filled with wonderfully sci fi sounding ideas. I read the patent but got lost in the babble about “motive fluids” that would drive the … engine? Come to think of it, he didn’t describe any engine, just a series of pipes carrying liquid air around the airplane. Flight would be achieved by opening and closing various valves and ultimately discharging the liquid through vents. Basically, he designed the ultimate glider, but included a mechanism to control wind currents to propel the airplane.

under the impulse of the reaction from the stern discharges and from any or all parts of the wing-sections, too, if desired, the machine will fly rapidly forward to the 45 positions km, &c., and continue on that tack as long as the engineer may deem expedient.. In like manner the aeroplane may be steered to the left or to the right by causing discharges of motive fluid from the right or the left side 50 of the wings or body, as will be readily un­derstood.
from Letters Patent No. 710,266, dated September 30, 1902.  Application filed April 24, 1901. Serial No. 57,229

Was it at all practical? Not a clue, I’m not even going to pretend to understand the basics of flight or mechanics. My knowledge of flight is limited to buying a ticket and getting to my seat.  I do suspect the entire fluid reaction mechanics are pretty pie in the sky stuff. But the wings … the wings!

It’s interesting to see a design we associate with the cutting edge sitting on a 100+ year old patent. Gibons ran contrary to the trend of straight wing designs, including multiple layers of wings. His single, swept back v, despite the rudimentary drawings, indicates an vision for aerodynamics that was ahead of his time.

Here’s the back view:

Back view of the Gibon flyer 1902Invert it and you have:


A forerunner of the B-2, although admittedly the Gibon does look more like an origami project on steroids. Or maybe one of those spaceships on Stargate – the flying pyramids. Regardless, when the Stealth was revealed, people were left breathless with the flying wing design. There is an element of a bold dreamer in Gibon’s patent. Too bad he didn’t live to see the B-2 fly. His mechanics may have been nonsense, but the wing design was spot on.

Oh yea, I love trolling through old patents. You just never know what you’ll find.