Did You Know Inventor W.H. Richardson Patented Improvements to the Baby Stroller on This Day?

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This Day In History: June 18th

Modern-day reversible strollers and baby carriages are the work of African-American inventor W.H. Richardson. Although the first baby carriage was invented in 1733 by William Kent for the Duke of Devonshire, its lavish design made it harder for everyday individuals to have access to them. However, Richardson patented a new type of baby carriage on June 18, 1889, that was more efficient and affordable. 

When applying for the patent, Richardson wrote, “this invention relates to certain improvements in that class of [c]hildrens carriages in which the body is reversible in position with reference to the running-gear; and it consists in certain improvements in the invention described.” 

In 1889 Richardson patented a new type of reversible baby carriage that allowed a bassinet to face the individual pushing the device. The design featured wheels that could turn 360 degrees in a smaller turning radius. Richardson’s enhancements also addressed safety concerns about injuries that could result from “a careless and incompetent nurse.” He added that “the object of the present invention is therefore to prevent the complete rotation of the body by providing some part of the moving [mechanism] with a stop.” He applied for the patent on November 12, 1888, and received patent US405600A almost seven months later.

Design From Patent Application

Prior to Richardson’s design, the first stroller by William Kent was considered a luxury item. It initially included gold and silver and was made to be pulled by an animal rather than a person. The price of the stroller placed restrictions on who could purchase them and soon the idea was replicated with materials such as wood or wicker.  

The father and son duo of Benjamin Potter Crandall and Jesse Armour Crandall marketed the first baby carriages made in America during the 1830s. Jesse Crandall received patents for several improvements to the device which included shading for the child, a brake and a folding model. Inventor Charles Burton created the push design for the baby carriage in 1848 which allowed parents to push the device. 

W.H. Richardson improved the design of pre-existing models ultimately turning the stroller into a popular item for the middle class. As the 20th century began, there was an interest in the device across all economic levels which allowed for continuous enhancements to the design. 

Design From Patent Application

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