The documentation we have for the patents filed by Alice Bygrave for her convertible skirt and her father Charles William Rudolph Duerre (for improvements in bicycle saddle suspension) all show that the family worked with the same agents as part of the process of patenting their designs.
After a quick online search, it turns out that Phillips and Leigh is still a practicing firm of patent and trade mark attorneys.
Phillips & Leigh was founded in 1882 – the same year as the original Institute of Patent Agents, though we have records dating back to 1876.http://www.pandl.com/index.php/about-us
Unfortunately they weren’t able to locate records for Alice’s patent, however I did spend an hour or two yesterday talking with P&L Partner, Jim Boff who was kind enough to explain a lot about the patenting process – past and present – as well as having these beauties laid out waiting for me when I arrived:
These are ledgers filled with documentation of the designs and trade marks Phillips and Leigh were involved with during the late 1800s and early 1900s.
The book of designs was fascinating, with every double page spread detailing the name of the designer; their occupation details; the nature of their design; history of rejections, acceptances or amendments; and, best of all, evidence of the design itself in the form of drawings, photos, fabric samples or paper models.
It was the best pop-up book ever!
I spotted an entry for a skirt adjuster, although listed to a manufacturer in the USA.
And a comb with eyelets “through which hair can be entwined”. I’m not sure if this refers to the detachable fringes we’ve talked about in the studio before, or the wearer’s own hair.
There were also lots of cycle frame designs:
Clicking on the images above will take you through to the relevant page on Flickr where you can get to larger versions. The complete set of all my photos from the day can be found at https://www.flickr.com/photos/nikki_pugh/sets/72157643687298923/
Jim also had some interesting things to say that related back to the importance of drawing and making things to get a better understanding of them. I also especially liked his description of the area where Phillips and Leigh has always been based as being a ‘technology cluster’ of patent agents and supporting trades.