US Patent Numbers

United States patents date back to the late 18th century, but the patent office was burned down during the war of 1812. The patent office reopened in 1836 with the number “1” as its first patent number, even though information on a handful of earlier patents dating back to 1790 still exist.  In 1843, the patent office began to issue design patents. The first number issued was “D1”.


Patent numbers are frequently found on decorative antiques, giving an indication of their age.

US Patents 1836-1915

US Patents 1916-1994


You may research patent numbers at the US Patent Office. Keyword searches are only available after 1975, but if you have the patent number, it will give you the name of the patent holder and other basic information.  Patent information prior to 1975 is available as a tiff download which may require you to download a tiff-viewer in order to see the images.  
The database default date is 1976 to present. Remember to select the “1790 to present” to search the entire database.