Mr. William J. A. Kennedy of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, I love you.

As near as I can tell, Mr. Kennedy got fed up with an aching back from shoveling too much coal, and in September of 1873 filed a claim for what became US patent 172,632.  And last night, it saved my back, too.

The driving tracks got lowered by about six inches (not down to gravel, but much better).  And today I can write about it free from agony.  Mr. Kennedy’s shovel looks like this:

Our modern-day shovel doesn’t look a lot different.

Searching for patents is hard (not as hard as snow shoveling, but harder in a different way.  Snow is obvious – patents aren’t).  At first, I thought the progenitor was a Mr. Emil Neuman of Wilber, Nebraska, with his 1963 patent 3,078,604 for a Snow Shovel With Offset Handle and Skids

and it would have been a better blog entry – Nebraska winters and a great small town.  Wilber (population 1761) was proclaimed the Czech Capital of Nebraska the year Emil’s patent was awarded, and was named the official Czech Capital of the United States in 1987 by President Reagan.  Unfortunately, Emil’s snow shovel includes skids, flanged sleeves, and telescopically received straight pieces in the offset, none of which my weather shovel has.

Along the way I came across this interesting thing

from Arthur Ellwood Yenson (patent 2,318,277 in 1943) of Lowell, Nebraska.  I wonder why these labor-saving shovels all come from northern states?  I don’t know if his shovel was ever produced commercially – I’d think there’s still a lot of leaning and stretching going on if you utilize the protruding handle.

Some of the things I found seem like advertisements for There – I Fixed It!.  See this beauty from Charles W. Hoffman’s 1987 patent 4,704,758:

or Reiner Dickhaus’s 2004 patent 6,684,459:

But then we find moments of breathtaking simplicity.  Here is the drawing and patent for an Implement Handle.  Richard W. Canfield, from Middletown, New York, was awarded design patent 118,156 in 1939.  This is the whole thing:

To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, Richard W. Canfield, a citizen of the United States, residing at Middletown, New York, have invented a new, original, and ornamental Design for an Implement Handle, of which the following is a specification, reference being had to the accompanying drawing, which forms a part thereof, in which I have shown the handle in a plan view.
I claim:
The ornamental design for an implement handle, substantially as shown.

And that’s it.  It is simple: I made something, and it looks like this.

Those were the days.