My great-grandfather said that his father, John Enos French, had obtained a patent for a machine that would make two bales of hay at the same time. I have seen half of the blueprint. No one living knows why it was torn in half nor what happened to the other half. The half we had has disappeared.

John E. French lived 1845 to 1891 in Illinois, Missouri, and Kansas, so I searched Google Patents and USPTO 1900 and back for hay, bale, baling, baler, French, and possibly some other terms but nothing was even close. Perhaps it was only an application, or maybe even never filed. But if it was filed, how would I find it? I know it wasn't "merely an idea" because it was an actual blueprint and had an attorney's signature.

  • Can you upload a scan of the drawing?
    – jdpatent
    Aug 27, 2017 at 14:13
  • It would be hard to find a scanner big enough, and then it would be even harder to find the drawing, which ran away from home ages ago. :-)
    – WGroleau
    Aug 28, 2017 at 7:16
  • 1
    @WGroleau afaik patent drawing have to fit on a normal page (DIN A4 or what the US equivalent is). It might have been different back then, but if not that would be a clue that you are not searching for a patent drawing but something else maybe.
    – user18033
    Aug 28, 2017 at 8:46
  • @DonQuiKong, that's a really great point. I think I read at some point that the A4 paper requirement was for scanning purposes, which makes me really wonder what the page size requirements were back then.
    – jdpatent
    Aug 28, 2017 at 21:55
  • U.S. equivalent of A4 is "letter" but what we used to have was much bigger and it was only half the drawing. And it was literally a "blueprint"—doark blue background, almost white foreground. My great-grandfather was only six years old when his father died in 1991, so he may have been mistaken about his father inventing the thing.
    – WGroleau
    Aug 30, 2017 at 20:01

2 Answers 2


While the USPTO allows searching old patents only by patent number and classification, espacenet allows searches by inventors and/or keywords (title).

I tried finding the patent in question searching for "French" as inventor between 01/01/1800 and 01/01/1900 and skimmed through the list, but couldn't find it.

If you want to look more thoroughly, here's the search:


I tried the same with "French" as applicant:


Lastly, I guess espacenet is your best bet, but maybe someone else has a better idea. If you find the patent number, you can enter it into the USPTO database to find the documents.

  • But isn't espacenet just European? John Enos French had a son named Zachary Taylor French, and that name appears there (but not for a hay baler). How do I find that document?
    – WGroleau
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:34
  • @WGroleau espacenet has a worldwide collection (over 90 countries) which includes the US. If you have the number, enter it here: patft.uspto.gov/netahtml/PTO/search-bool.html (select the correct years at the bottom).
    – user18033
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:45
  • Selecting the entire DB, CA59531 found nothing. Espacenet has a change country menu, but US isn't on it.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 27, 2017 at 17:53
  • @WGroleau the uspto link is for US patents. espacenet has "worldwide database" as an option. CAxxx is a canadian patent, it is in the espacenet database but the information might not be complete. You would have to check the canadian patent office then.
    – user18033
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:45
  • The list had a US patent for the same thing on the next page, but looking USPTO for that number got nothing. But I found something elsewhere about that Z. T. French and he is not related.
    – WGroleau
    Jun 27, 2017 at 18:52

The search tool I always used was www.freepatentsonline.com. I'll go through the searches I tried.

Searching for "bale"

When I search all documents dated between 1840 and 1895, I only find 5 that mention baling, bale, or baler.

All 5 documents name Peter Dederick of Loudonville, New York. Here is a sample of these docs.

Searching for "John E. French"

When I search all documents for John E. French or John Enos French (with no time only two results come up.

Of these two results, only one has a PDF available. This patent is for a "Combination Shade and Curtain Bracket" and was issued in 1903 to John E. French, resident of Keuka Park, New York. This doesn't sound like your John E. French. The other document is German and is dated 1963, so this doesn't sound like your John E. French either.

Some Searching Tips

I have a vague memory of studying for the patent bar and reading that, in older times, only one person was allowed to be named to a patent as inventor. (This was 8 years ago, so I'll let others verify this too in the comments.) If this is indeed the case, then you might keep an eye out for patent documents relating to bale which don't list John French. Maybe it's worth looking through those 5 documents from the first search.


If none of the 5 documents naming Peter Dederick are a match, then unfortunately I don't think you'll find a patent document containing your drawing.

I am no expert, and this response is for informational purposes only and not for the purpose of providing legal advice. You should contact your attorney or legal expert to obtain advice with respect to any particular issue or problem. Laws can differ dramatically from country to country, state to state, and technology field to technology field.

  • Well, still no, but I had to offer a vote for so much work! Thanks.
    – WGroleau
    Aug 28, 2017 at 7:15

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