Iâ€™ve blogged before about objects with patent, design or trade mark information on them. Examples are windup torches, teabag packaging and stair carpet clamps. Hereâ€™s another, rather mundane one.
Iâ€™ve had this hot water bottle for many years. The rubber is perished and it is certainly not â€śfit for useâ€ť. It was purchased in about the mid 1980s. Whatâ€™s interesting about it is that the information on it seems to have been added to and nothing ever seems to have been removed.
This is what is on it:
REGD. DESN NO 937892
REGD SUBA TRADE MARK
BRITISH PATENTS NOS. 494514; 530164, 545386, 516731, 538564, 470720, & PENDING
PATENTED IN THE PRINCIPAL COUNTRIES OF THE WORLD
MADE IN ENGLAND
On the actual stopper is given: SUBA-SEAL PRESS FIRMLY PAT. N. 494514 The philosophy in finding further information about industrial objects is to see if you can step from one piece of information to another. I decided in this case to see if the trade mark would enable me to identify the manufacturer.
Suba is listed as an expired mark on the official UK database. A Barnsley company, William Freeman Limited, filed for it in 1962, and it expired in 2007. It is for, among other things, hot water bottles.
I then went onto the Companies House database, which stated that the company was founded in 1962 and gave as its status â€śadministrative receiverâ€ť. This means that someone was appointed with that title to oversee the companyâ€™s assets after a creditor tried to obtain payment of a debt. It was listed as a manufacturer of rubber and plastic products.
Turning to the patents, I looked them up on Espacenet. They were published between 1937 and 1942. GB 470720 is the earliest, and is titled "Stopper for bottles, jars and the like". The applicant was William Simon Freeman who was said to be formerly Simon Freedman, British subject, of a Leeds address. This, surely, is the origin of the company. All the other patents give Freeman as the applicant. As the law stood at the time, it is possible that Freeman was not the actual inventor, and had instead hired someone to invent the product. The banal subject of the stopper is that of all the patents. There are other patents listed for Freeman: as late as 1969 he was busy filing away on the same subject (together with the company).
As for design 937892, there is no index or sequence by number or applicant (other than in the National Archives, where the design itself is housed), but it would date from about 1968.
More is available on the company if you look on Google, and, quite possibly, in the official London Gazette. Yet the company name would not have been known without following up these clues.