1873 Samuel Blake Bliss
First known US Bubble Toy Patent: 1873 # 143432.
(also Eagle Bubbler 1878 & Bubble-in-Bubbler 1900!)
S.B. Bliss was an Excellent Bubble Toy Inventor! R.I.P.
Samuel Blake Bliss: Born 1845 to Benjamin & Clarissa Bliss.
SB's father, Benjamin, was a successful druggist & chemist in Springfield, Massachusetts & later pioneered catalogue sales of seeds and horticultural supplies from BK Bliss & Sons warehouse at 34 Barclay St. in Brooklyn NY.
Samuel at age 28 invents his first bubble toy. His brother Elijah markets the toys. This starts as a side venture alongside and out of the offices of their warehouse in NY. The toys are sold in stores and through mail order marketing in magazines and newspapers. The Eagle bubble toy proves to sell the best of all their patents.
I'm not certain when Sam died (census records from 1920 show him at age 72 living with his wife Anna in Florida) but he outlived his father and brother. No photos found.
Benjamin Bliss's obituary (below) fills in some gaps in the story and certainly helps to explain the source of SB's creative and entrepreneurial energy.
IMPROVEMENT IN TOY DEVICES FOR MAKING SOAP BUBBLES
After a decade of compiling patents, this is the earliest I've found.
It is a more complicated design than expected. With its good advertising maybe these sold well but I have not seen examples in museums or auctions.
From the patent:
To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, SAMUEL B. BLISS, of the city county, and State of New York, have invented a new and Improved Toy.
The object of my invention is to furnish, for the amusement of children, a toy instrument by which soap-bubbles may be easily and quickly produced, without the spilling of soapwater and other inconveniences. My invention consists, mainly, in the arrangement of a double tubular casing for soap and soap-water, with an air-pipe and exit-tube, in which latter the quantity required is regulated by a suitably-constructed valve arrangement.
Here is a link to patent: 143432
JUST WHAT EVERY CHILD WANTS.
Pocket Soap Bubble Toy.
300 Bubbles BLOWN without refilling.
Soap and water contained in a tight receptacle, and attached to the pipe. No more wet Clothing nor Dish of Suds to overturn. Can not get out of order, and may be carried in the pocket. Any kind of Soap used, and always ready for use.
Price THIRTY-FIVE CENTS each, by Mail, Agents wanted. Address E. W. Bliss, P.O. Box 5712, 20 Murray Street, New York
1874 Pocket Bubble Toy Advert: Feb. 14 1874 Harpers Weekly
1878 patent for Eagle Soap Bubble Toy
Be it known that I, SAMUEL B. BLISS, of the city and State of New York, have invented an Improvement in Soap-Bubble Toys, of which the following is a specification:
Soap-bubble toys have been made with a reservoir for the soap and water, and a movable plug or cap to such reservoir, and a valve for regulating the passage of such soapy water. Toys of this general character may be seen in my Patent No. 143,432.
My present invention is for simplifying the toy and for rendering the discharge of the soap and water automatic, or sufficiently so to be influenced by the act of blowing.
In the drawing, Figure 1 is a vertical section of the toy. Fig. 2 is a plan of the perforated diaphragm, and Fig. 3 is a plan of the soap-suds cup and bubble-tube.
I make use of an inverted fountain, a, for the soap-suds, the same being filled when in an inverted position; and hence, when the plug or stopper is applied to the opening, none of the liquid will pass out except as air passes in to take its place. I employ this feature in rendering my toy automatic, and in so doing I avoid the risk of leakage, and also the expense of valves, screw-plugs, or similar devices especially provided for allowing the soap and water to be introduced, and of valves, teats, or other contrivances applied to regulate the passage of the soapsuds to the bubble tube or pipe.
1878 3 23 Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper
Just What Every Child Wants.
THE EAGLE SOAP-BUBBLE TOY.
300 Bubbles blown without refilling. Blows Bubbles singly or in long chains of 4 to 8. Air tight, and can not slop over.
Every Toy Warranted. Sold by all Toy Dealers. Mailed, post-paid, for 25c. each by: E. W. Bliss, General Agent, PO Box 712, [#] Barclay St. New York
1879 American Agriculturalist Vol 38
No. 243 Eagle Soap Bubble Toy.
It would be hard to find the boy or girl who has never enjoyed "blowing soap bubbles." Here is a Toy invented to helf the little folks in this operation. It is claimed that 300 bubbles can be blown without refilling. FOUR of these toys will be given for the Premium, and any child can readily get two subscribers, at #1.50 each, and thus secure one Toy for himself, and have three remaining to give away; [or we will send four of them for $1]; all post-paid. Directions accompany each one. From E. W. Bliss, 34 Barclay Street, New York.
1900 patent for Bubble in Bubbler
Application filed August 17, 1899.
To all whom it may concern:
Be it known that I, SAMUEL BLAKE BLISS, of Boston, in the county of Suffolk and State of Massachusetts, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Soap Bubble Blowers, of which the following is a specification.
This invention has for its object to provide an improved soap-bubble blower adapted to be readily controlled by the operator, so that bubbles can be blown more satisfactorily than heretofore and with a greater range of ornamental effect.
Benjamin Bliss (Father of Sam) Obit. from American Florist Mag. Dec. 30, 1899
B. K. BLISS.
Benjamin K. Bliss passed away in Boston, Mass, on Christmas morning. Mr . Bliss was born in Onondaga, N. Y., October 4, 1819. He was engaged in the drug business in Springfield, when his love for flowers led him to make the selling of flower seeds in a small way an adjunct to his trade. This developed so rapidly that he finally gave up the drug business and in the year 1845 established himself as a dealer in seeds, flowers and plants. He was one of the first to perceive the possibilities in the catalogue mail trade and the series of catalogues issued by him, beginning with the year 1853 were convincing evidences 0 his foresight and progressiveness. Early in the sixties he began to make use of fine illustrations in his lists and a beautiful colored plate adorned his autumn bulb catalogue issued in 1867. In this year the firm name was changed to B. K. Bliss & Sons, Messrs. Samuel B. and Elijah W. being taken into partnership, and an auxiliary store was opened in New York city. In 1869 the entire establishment was removed to 41. Park Row and 151 Nassau street, New York, in 1871 to 23 Park place and 20 Murray street and two or three years later to 34‐Barclay street, where business was continued until the crash of 1885, which was the close of the business career of the firm.
Among the valuable novelties in flowers and vegetables whichMr.Bliss claimed the honor of having introduced were Bliss’ American Wonder, Everbearing and Abundance peas, Early Rose and Triumph potatoes, auratum, Krameri and Hansoui lilies, Aquilegia chrysantha and Ipomoealeptophylla. In his bulb catalogue of 1869 appeared a fine colored plate of Lilium auratum, bulbs of which had been up to that time selling at from $2 to $5 each. Mr. Bliss was a pioneer in all that is enterprising in the seed trade as carried on to-day. He had a rare faculty in advertising and made liberal use of the mediums afforded for interesting the public in his goods. He was a remarkably good judge of merit in a novelty and was always ready to pay a good price for anything that was worthy.
His whole heart and soul was in his business and his amiable disposition and pleasant manner made him universally liked by his business associates. His invitation in his catalogue for strangers in the city to call whether purchasers or not was not bade thoughtlessly, as those who had the privilege of calling on him learned, for he was never too busy to stop and extend a kindly greeting. After the closing up of his business he spent about one year with W. W. Rawson, in Boston, and then retired to a quiet home in East Bridgewater, frequently visiting the library and exhibition rooms of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.
On August 22, last, while at Onset he received a stroke of paralysis and since that time has been confined to his room in Boston with his mental faculties perfectly clear but physically almost helpless. He leaves a widow‐his second wife, to whom he was married fifteen years ago‐one daughter and one son, Samuel. the other two sons having died some years ago.