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Obscure Patent: Combined Cigar Lighter and Perfume Ejector


Written by Stewart Walsh
Walsh IP
May 6, 2011 @ 6:59 pm

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From U.S. Patent. No. 348,409

As a patent searcher from time to time in my daily activities I will stumble across a patent that is, shall we say, rather unique.  Just in time for the gifting season for Moms and Dads I happened to stumble across a gift suitable for both Mothers Day and Fathers Day.  Yes, this gift would kill two birds with one stone, perhaps quite literally.

In keeping with the age-old tradition of inventing by juxtaposition (see, for example, hamburger earmuffs), this highly functional and aesthetically pleasing invention “Cigar Lighter and Perfumery Ejector Combined,” which was patented on August 31, 1886, and combines the lighting of cigars with the dispensing of perfume. So if you’re a cigar and perfume enthusiast on a budget, it’s nice to know you have the option of getting a device that addresses all your cigar-lighting and perfume-spraying needs in one. And as the inventor Henry Munk of Fremont, Ohio points out, you can now put perfume on your cigars “to enhance the odor and consequent value of the cigar.”

One item of particular note for patent aficionados might be the relative simplicity of the claims.  Munk’s patent, with a totality of 1 page of disclosure, claims:

As a new article of manufacture, the cigar lighter and perfume-sprayer, consisting of a statuette holding in one hand a lighted lamp and in the other a tray, and a perfumery-sprayer connected by a tube passing through the body of the statuette, with the mouth of said statuette for ejecting a spray, substantially as shown, and for the purpose stated.

You just don’t see claims like this in patent claims like this any more.

There is one possible flaw in the design, however. In combining these two functions Mr. Munk may have neglected an important reason why they had never been combined before: perfume is mostly alcohol. Therefore, in the course of intended use, you could very easily set yourself on fire — hardly a beneficial outcome.

I suspect this patent never yielded a marketable product. But perhaps Mr. Munk moved on to dream up other brilliant ideas that didn’t involve of self-immolation.

About the Author

Stewart Walsh is a patent searcher living and working in Alexandria, VA. Along with his brother, Patrick Walsh, he runs Walsh IP, which provides patent research and administrative support to patent attorneys and other industry professionals. Stewart also performs and teaches improv comedy in his evenings.

3 comments
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  1. Great find Stewart!

    It is certainly true that you don’t see claims like this any more. Gone are the days when you can actually write claims in English and have them reference back to the disclosure and drawings. Gone also are the days where everyone would really understand what you invented and what the scope of the claim was intended to be. I don’t know whether that is for the better, but as patents have actually become valid in courts (something quite rare pre- Federal Circuit) patent applications have grown in detail, grown in size and claims have become more incomprehensible. Oh well…

    Cheers.

    -Gene

  2. Wow, you must be a thorough patent searcher if you are searching patents back to 1886! How can I retain your services?!

  3. Patent Leather,

    Our standard procedure for mechanical searches is to search 2-5 of the most relevant subclasses in their entirety, which means we look at lots of very old patents. You’d be surprised at how often an old patent can serve as good prior art in a search.