Window RefrigeratorDid you know you can use patent numbers to approximate the manufacture date of certain objects?

We found the great galvanized metal box shown above. It features a hinged lid and a divided inner compartment. It can also be elongated - and a third section can be created - by pulling on one end of the box.

Patent NumberBut we couldn't figure out what its original purpose might have been.

Then we remembered that fact about patent numbers.

A quick Google search turned up a “table of issue years and patent numbers.” The box's number - 1637460 - corresponded with a patent date between 1927 and 1928.


And then, we wondered if we might be able to locate the patent number's description. Sure enough, the United States Patent and Trademark Office's website features detailed drawings of what we think is our box. It's called a “window refrigerator.”

From further research we learned that the box would have been attached to the outside of a window during the colder months or in shadier spots. Food was stored in the box to keep it cool.

That type of insight makes this beautifully crafted metal box all the more interesting. It gives it a story that you could share with others who see the piece in your home.

Want to know more about an object in your collection? Look for a patent number and then use this list and the USPTO website to start your digging.