1894 Eliza E. McNaughton

3 UNIQUE bubble-play patents in 1894!

Her Soap Bubble Game Table: US519770 patent.

Her 1894 special solution patent US519923: HERE

McNaughton Bubble Game #2: US519770

OK, I've never seen these in person, online, in auctions or elsewhere. But I have seen all of the elements described in these patents put to use in other working bubble toys & sets.

If these game tables worked as described in her patents I'd be surprised.

That said, I would love to try. E.E. McNaughton is definitely a hero of mine!

What prompted Ms. McNaughton to create bubble games?

Read all about it in this full 1893 article from The New York Times.

A great story about a super smart Mom & her bubble loving child!


NY TIMES, DECEMBER 31, 1893 One More Evidence of the efficiency of the “ Hand that Rocks the Cradle” What~Mrs. James MacNaughton of Phenlx Has Done‐When Her Baby Was Poisoned by Soap Bubbles She Prepared Some that Were Harmless‐They Proved to be Remarkably Durable, and Science Takes Them Up. Their Use in Games and Kindergarten Exercises.

The inventive genius of woman is not of recent recognition. For centuries her skill in devices or one sort and another has been known and accepted. In the home, generations of husbands and sons have relied upon " mother” to tide them over all its emergencies and few mothers have been unequal to the task. Since women, under the modern conditions of existence, have found less to do in the mechanism of the home their energies have naturally been directed in other quarters, and the world is hearing of their work through the records of the Patent Office. And now a weekly list of Patents by women is printed and needed to chronicle their achievements in the world of design.

The Inventions of women, like those of men, are controlled by no law of gender. Men find the my out of women's dilemmas. and women work out the problems which men cannot solve‐facts which prove Ruskin’s idea that “habit kills invention.”

In Phenix. N. Y.. however. lives a woman‐Mrs. James MacNaughton‐who has realized in a recent invention just what might have been expected from her history, her sex and her individuality.

Mrs. MacNaughton, born Carpenter, is one of a family of inventors; she is the sister of Mrs. Mary B. Carpenter Hooper, who counts a long list of practical inventions to her credit. One of her models‐that of a straw braid sewing machine. nearly twenty years old‐was among those sent on from the Patent Office to take a place in the Government exhibit at Jackson Park last Summer.

Mrs. MacNaughton. however. following the bent of her temperament, which is fanciful and delicate, has evolved from the inventive strain which she inherits something much less practical from one point of view. She has discovered. after many trials and much tedious labor. a compound that will produce bubbles of extraordinary character. They are created by the common process of being blown through a pipe, and their claim to distinction lies in their longevity. And they are, besides, as airily beautiful as the flight her fancy in the little poem,

“Fancy Land,” written by Mrs. MacNaughton, and printed in Harper’s Weekly. Some of the stanzas run:

I have mighty castles reared in Fancy-land:

l have barges Kings have steered in Fancy-land:

I have spans of loans and hays.

Meadows green on which they graze.

“'here the south wind joyous plays, in Fancy-land.

I have wealth that cannot fly. in Fancy-land;

l have friends that cannot die, in Fancy-land:

I have gems of every hue.

Love the truest or the true.

Cures that all my pains subdue. in Fancy-land.

Strange how cobwebs change to lace in Fancy-land.

Graceless rafters have a grace in Fancy-land;

Tattered curtains, stained and old.

Brightest crimson hues unfold.

Under cornices of gold, in Fancy-land.

Now there may be lay minds who, reading thus far, will wonder that an achievement of producing bubbles, even bubbles of extra endurance, is worth the telling. Such are to be speedily enlightened. In science bubbles, or soap films. which is their technical name, play a very important part.

They are valuable in many experiments. Commenting on Mrs. McNaughton’s bubbles, Prof. Dorms says: “Durable soap films or bubbles are desirable for many scientific experiments‐thus for exhibiting endosmose and exosmose of gases, as suggested by Prof. John W. Draper or to illustrate the laws of light, as proposed by Plateau, Tyndall and others.

“Or to show the great speed of light as compared with sound by filling a soap bubble with two volumes of hydrogen and one volume or oxygen, then throwing an electric light through the bubble, to exhibit. it on a screen in a remote part of the lecture room previously darkened. On exploding the mixed gases, the bubble disappears; from a remote part of the room the sound is heard after the picture of the bubble has vanished.

"I have given up illustrating my lectures with soap films, owing to their fragile nature. Although I have tried every preparation that has been suggested. Mrs. MacNaughton’s succeeds where all others have failed for my purposes."

These bubbles aid, too, in meteorological experiments on slight currents of air and photographing them in various positions; their use, indeed, is of value in so many departments of scientific experiment that chemists have spent time and labor to increase their durability by even a fraction of a minute. Until now, the most enduring soap bubble known to science, it is said, has lived but a minute and a half. Mrs. MacNaughton’s bubbles, any of them, lasts four minutes, and many have reached the advanced age, for a soap bubble, of six.

But it was not science or a desire to assist "chemists in their experiments which prompted Mrs. MacNaughton in her search for abiding bubbles. And what did prompt her will be to women the most interesting part of the invention.

Besides being a poet and writer of stories and sketches that have found their way into print under excellent auspices, Mrs. MacNaughton is a most devoted mother. Two bonny lads gladden the home in Phenix and live in the atmosphere of fancy and poetic imagination which is theirs by inheritance and environment. From babyhood both of the boys, but especially the younger, have shown an inordinate fondness, even for children, for playing with soap bubbles. Hours of nursery happiness have been created with the aid of pipe and bowl of soap suds, the young mother sharing with her small sons in the pleasure, the three surrounding the pretty sport with many light and dainty fancies.

When the younger boy was about two years old, all sport was stopped in the happy home and all fancy put to flight by an illness which attacked him, threatening his life. A soreness of the mouth had extended to the stomach and bowels producing serious irritation. For days he hovered on the brink of the grave. At the crisis of the trouble the physician in charge did not hesitate to say that the devoted mother had turned the scale in the little patient's favor by her incessant care. For twenty-one hours, without stopping more than a few moments at a time, she walked the floor, carrying her boy to keep him from crying with the pain which racked his tender frame. A burst of sobs would have been fatal, the mother was told, and she bravely took the challenge.

Up and down she paced with him, hugged in her arms, resting over her shoulder, or held close against her throat; crooning to him, smiling at him, coaxing him, soothing him, anything to keep him from breaking into a cry. Shoes and slippers, finest kid and softest wool, were, one pair after another, discarded from her swollen, aching feet, and the last few hours she walked in silk stockings, over fluffy rugs that alone made the pain of her self-imposed pilgrimage bearable. But at last the child dropped into a peaceful slumber that indicated a favorable turn, and the mother rested with him.

Mrs. MacNaughton always felt that her little boy’s sickness was caused by the poison of impure soaps which he had taken into his system in his continuous bubble playing.

Like any child, he would frequently “draw in." instead of " blow out.” and would swallow some of the lather.

In his convalescence, which was long and tedious, he fretted much for his coveted toy, and it was to satisfy him without doing him further harm that his mother pondered over a formula for benign bubbles.

Her boy was running about again long before she found what she sought. Experiments, lasting nearly three years, were necessary to achieve her final success. But her perseverance and application were at last rewarded, and a preparation discovered that makes a bubble whose elements are perfectly harmless and whose durability is destined to have a profound effect upon the world of science.

“As to its harmlessness,”caught the inventor, “a child could drink a quart of the mixture and suffer nothing from the dose.”

The tenacity of these patent bubbles is as remarkable as their longevity. They resist considerable force, and Mrs. MacNaughton has taken advantage of this to imply her invention in a pretty parlor game, in which the bubbles are bowled about with a small flannel-covered paddle shaped bat. True to her artistic fancies, the designer makes her pipes for the game of pinkish clay, the bowl being an inverted harebell, and the jars are wrought in the same fanciful shape.

But the vista of Mrs. MacNaughton's air castles has not yet been fully opened. A great development of their use lies in the direction of the kindergarten. How delighted Froebel would have been with them, and how quick to seize their value for his work! And some of his followers are equally pleased, and see in their employment in the physical culture of the little circle members a solution of what is always more or less of a problem‐how exercise may be prolonged without monotony. With the light wool-covered paddles in each extended hand the bubble is tossed lightly back and forth, the child interest held in its retention between them and his fancy attracted and pleased by the dancing balls of color and light.