From the Back Shelf: Seeing Stars

Authors: 
Scott Skinner
Article type: 
Discourse

I did an Internet search for Clawson Machine Co. – don’t ask why, you’ll see that I had my reasons – and found a number of interesting patents from the late 1800s: a coin-controlled, musical weighing machine (US381338, 1888), a coin-controlled air-pump-operating mechanism (US619279, 1899), and the one that has appeared to keep the company in business, the “machine for shaving ice” (US387861, 1888). Established in 1883, Clawson Machine Co. now specializes in “a full line of commercial Ice Crushers, Ice Shavers, and Block Ice Shavers for the restaurant, hotel, food service, and related industries.”

Why do you, the kite enthusiast, care? Because at some point in the late 1800s or early 1900s, Clawson Machine Co. of Flagtown, New Jersey, “Scientific and Experimental Mechanical Experts,” published a sales brochure for “Tailless Star Kites!” Precious little information is contained in the brochure, but the company touts their kites as “The Steadiest Sailing Kites” and “A Thing of Beauty in the Sky.”

They say: “These kites are made of the best quality flat-fold cambric, the edges are bound with strong tape (to prevent fraying and stretching). All seams are double-stitched. The kites are made in all the standard colors, and in any combination of college or society colors. The frame is made of the best quality selected bass wood, and is of most substantial and simple construction.”

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