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Robert M Ellsworth <[log in to unmask]>
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Mark Twain Forum <[log in to unmask]>
Fri, 10 Nov 2017 13:38:58 -0600
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Here is a direct link to the Google Patents page for the ‘Improvements in Scrap-books’ patent, from which you can download a PDF copy if the online documentation is too hard to read (as it very often is!)

The idea is rather interesting: he covers the whole page with water-soluble glue or mucilage, and a user moistens just the area where something is to go, presumably most easily with a small brush or blot of paper.  Contemporary ads appear to show something between the treated gummed pages, perhaps material to which the gum left exposed between pasted items won’t self-stick in humid locations.  Presumably there is some care to provide ‘adhesive’ that will not stick until desired, perhaps dusting with (dyed) cornstarch or similar material to form what parents with diapered children might know as ‘a barrier layer’.

The accounts I’ve read say that he made ample profit from this invention, and my guess is that the name recognition was a large part of the attractiveness.  Perhaps it would still be, if anyone decided to “re-introduce” these with modern materials … I can think of a few improvements just looking at the patent drawings.