1890 Richard S. Thain
The tin DOUBLE BUBBLE PIPE / WIZARD (US Patent 430095 / )
The first mass produced and widely distributed bubble toy.
It was inexpensive, hugely popular and very interesting.
Civil War Veteran turned advertising executive in the Chicago area, invents many things including the most popular bubble trick toy of the 1800s.
"Born on June 12, 1845, Richard S. Thain was a native of Milburn, Illinois. Delivered atop a backup propeller aboard a steamer in the midst of a great storm that claimed several ships on Lake Michigan, he was named Richard after the ship’s captain. The “ S " stood for Samson, an appropriate name for a storm-born infant. In August 1862, seventeen-year-old Thain enlisted in the Ninety-sixth Illinois Infantry and saw action in twenty engagements before being discharged in July 1865. He took a bullet through his shoe and had his canteen shot off at Chickamauga (September 1863) and was struck in the leg by a bullet at Lookout Mountain. After the war, Thain began a long and successful career in advertising and land development and was the editor of Agricultural Advertising."
Above from Lost Lewiston, Idaho: Elegies and Bygone Places Steven D. Branting, 2014.
Thain Died in 1912.
Being an Ad-Man, it's easy to understand Thain's other inventions including a combination Ruler and Paper Cutter, Ink Stand, Letter Opener. Why a bubble-pipe?
All of his inventions were created to be inexpensive advertising gifts or "premiums" stamped out of thin tin-sheet with advertising printed on them. Most of the inventions were first assigned to Wilber Publishing to help sell products and subscriptions.
His double bubble pipe also became a promotional item to help sell products from soaps to bread.
NOTE: Thain produced a second bubble pipe patent in 1896 (US 555411) which was a small modification of his first patent. Presumably, the bubble pipe was such a strong give-away and free standing toy that he wanted to promote it on his own and keep all the profit.
Two things to remember;
1. Unlike later bubble toys intended to be junky advertising premiums, Thain invested a lot of imagination and effort in this to invent a truly new, high performance and durable toy.
2. Thain proves early on: A good invention isn't enough for success, Expert Marketing is important. READ THE ADVERTISEMENTS BELOW.
This Advertisement appeared in Volume 3 of the Kindergarten For Teachers and Parents, 1890 Full text follows:
THE "WIZARD" BUBBLE BLOWER. Pat. June 10th, 1890
The new Scientific Toy, which is creating so much interest among men of science, as well as the children. it surprises and delights every one who sees it. It produces a bubble within a bubble, the outside one of immense size. The inner one floats and flashes with the most brilliant rainbow colors. Produces a “ balloon” bubble. with car attached. which will float for hundreds of feet in the open air. “ Twin bubbles." chains of bubbles a yard in length, and many other forms of bubbles hitherto unknown.
Just the thing to entertain and instruct KINDERGARTEN PUPILS or children in the home. Although only introduced a few weeks. over 40.000 sold, and “ Wizard Bubble Parties" are becoming the fashionable evening entertainment. Sent to any address on receipt of 25c (stamps taken) if not for sale by your toy or notion dealer.
The following is a voluntary expression from Orange Judd, for 30 years editor of The American Agriculturalist and now editor of The Orange Judd Farmer. of Chicago:
Chicago, Aug. 30th 1890.
I have always taken great pleasure in supplying my own children and others with pleasing and instructive toys.
Thousands of scholars in Suuday schools under my care during 30 years of Superintendent service know what I think of plenty of nice things about Christmas time. I can hardly guess the number of millions of Crandall's Construction and other blocks that “I had a hand in" in sending out for the amusement and instruction of the “little f0lks."
But this new “Soap Bubble Blower." invented by my friend Thain, excels in interest anything else I have ever yet found. The curious and wonderful forms it is capable of producing are a source of endless pleasure. I would be glad if every child in America, and among all “the rest of mankind" could have one.
But it is not for children alone. Any person. “young or middle-aged or old" will find it decidedly interesting. I have rested myself for hours in blowlng beautiful bubbles, bubbles great and small, bubbles within bubbles, heaps and cones of them, bubbles single and double and inside of each other, floating off in the air. . . This Wizard bubble Blower is not above (or below) or unworthy of the attention of anybody, not even of the most renowned scientists. Many problems of matter, of light, etc.. are involved incurious performance. ORANGE JUDD.
Any bright boy or girl can make money fast selling this article as every person who sees the wonders it produces wants one, and a liberal profit can be made. We furnish full directions with each one: also a receipt [recipe] for making very durable bubbles, so tough they bound like a rubber ball on the carpet.
Trade supplied through jobbers or direct from our factory.
We refer, by permission, to publishers of The Kindergarten.
WILBUR PUBLISHING CO.
Patentees and Sole Manufacturers, 226 & 228 La Salle St., Chicago Ill.
Produces durable bubbles, the size of one's head, with others floating inside.
Advertisement in Lawrence Daily Journal, December 3, 1896:
Thain's Double Bubble Pipe.
The Marvelous Scientific Toy
Store Promotion from For producing Bubbles within a Bubble, Twin Bubbles, Balloon Bubbles, Pendant Bubbles, Bubble Clusters, Bubble Chains, and many other Wonderful and Beautiful Effects. Endorsed by men of Science and recommended by Physicians for strengthening the Lungs. Used by Philosophical Departments of Universities and Colleges.
See the Bubble Rolling in Raymond's Windows Saturday Night.
Description of Thain's Double Bubble Pipe from 11.05.1896, The Western Rural Newspaper:
The pipe is a little tin tube about six or seven inches long, slightly sloping; the larger end is surrounded by a sort of cup, which is just a little shorter than the central opening; they are connected by an air passage through the pipestem. The lower end of the pipestem is about one-half inch in diameter, and the surrounding cup about one inch. The inner tube is just a little longer than the outer cup, so that when the bubbles are blown together, the inner one may be shaken off an float clear inside the larger one, which still adheres to the outside cup, and may be blown still larger. It is a pretty sight, but it takes patience to become an adept.
ABOUT THE PATENT:
Be it known that I, RICHARD S. THAIN, a citizen of the United States, residing at Oak Park, in the county of Cook and State of Illinois, have invented certain new and useful Improvements in Soap-Bubble Blowers.
My invention relates to a device for blowing soap-bubbles; and it has for its object to to provide a bubble-blower with which a complete bubble may be formed within another; also, whereby two bubbles may be simultaneously produced, one of which will, by the continuation of blowing, be detached from the blower and caused to move down the outside of the first by gravity until it assumes a position directly beneath the bubble adhering to the blower, and remains suspended therefrom, and, also, whereby composite bubbles- consisting of a larger number of small bubbles-may be made. The production of one bubble within another enhances the prismatic effect many fold, and the device, when skillfully handled, can be made to afford amusement, pleasure, and instruction.
OH! HOW CHARMING
Thain’s Double Bubble Pipe produces durable bubbles, size of one's head, with others floating inside period
Rainbow colors intensified. The lights men and women. Instructs and charms children. Kindergartners prize it. Students enjoy it. Should be in every home. Grand thing for bubble parties, socials, bazaars and Xmas present.
It has been exhibited with marvelous interest at meetings of the Chicago Academy of sciences, the photographers club of Chicago, and amateur photographers club, of Chicago and Northwestern University, Evanston Ill., and was pronounced by all who witnessed the gorgeous effects as a decidedly successful toy.
Splendid novelty four agents.
Territory for sale
One for $.12, three for $.30, a dozen for one dollar, By mail, postpaid, directions and soap included period
34 Lake St., Chicago