This Day In History: July 18th
Respected inventor and businessman Leonard C. Bailey received several patents and co-founded the Capital Savings Bank over the course of his career. Bailey received a patent for one of his most popular devices, a foldable bed, on July 18, 1899.
When applying for the patent, Bailey noted that he “invented certain new and useful Improvements in Folding Beds” and added that “the object is to provide a simple, inexpensive, convenient, and durable article.”
Bailey was born in 1825 to a free black family in Washington, D.C. Business and innovation was not anticipated as a profession for Bailey. He started his career as a barber but managed to become a leader in his community. Bailey was able to fund his business ventures with money he earned from inventions. One of his early creations was intended to support patients with lower-body hernias and the design was used by the U.S. Army Medical Board.
He followed up his first success and was granted patent US629286A on July 5, 1899. Bailey highlighted that his design was “intended for hospital use on account of its hygienic properties and the facility with which it can be kept clean and rendered antiseptic.” His foldable bed was also welcomed by the army and it became one of his most popular creations. Despite making important improvements to the design of the foldable bed, Bailey acknowledged that there was still room for additional changes.
He added in his patent application, “the accompanying drawings show my invention in the best form new known to me; but many changes in the details might be made within the skill of a good mechanic without departing from the spirit of my invention.”
Aside from working on the medical device, foldable bed and other designs, Bailey also secured a director position at the Manassas Industrial School for Colored Youth in Virginia. He expanded his business portfolio and combined resources with fellow Black Businessmen to establish the Capital Savings Bank in 1888. It was a pillar of African-American banking until it closed down in 1902 and Bailey served as the bank’s President. Leonard C. Bailey died on September 1, 1918.