Monthly Archives: August 2014

Elwood Hannsman: Boy Scout, Inventor, Lawyer

WashTimes23Aug1914A hundred years ago today, the Washington Times of August 23, 1914, shows these scouts at Camp Archibald Butt, a camp operated by the Baltimore and Washington councils of the BSA between 1914 and 1916.

The scouts are identified as E.L. Maschmeyer, Mitchell Carroll, King Ridgeway, Paul Grove, George Read, Elwood Hannsman, and Randolph Carroll.

windshieldcleanerThe scout second to the right is presumably the same Elwood Hannsman who went on in 1936 to secure U.S. Patent No. 2031830 for the windshield cleaner shown here. Mr. Hannsman was also issued U.S. Patents 2268072 for a direct reading gauge (1941) and 2100188 (1937) for another windshield cleaner. The assignee of all three patents was the Stewart-Warner Corporation of Chicago, which was presumably Mr. Hannsman’s employer.

And at some point, it would appear that Stewart-Warner sent Mr. Hannsman to law school, since he is listed as one of the attorneys for Stewart-Warner in a number of cases, including
Jiffy Lubricator Co. V. Stewart-Warner Corp., 177 F.2d 360 (4th Cir. 1949).

He was a member of the ABA Section of Patent Trade-Mark and Copyright Law. He was the Chairman of the Patent Sub-Section at the time of his death in 1954.  (ABA Journal, June 1954).

Soviet-German Non-Aggression Pact, 1939

Seventy-five years ago today, only a quarter century after the start of the First World War, the Second was falling into place. Today, August 22, 1939, the papers were reporting the non-aggression pact between between Nazi Germany and the Soviet Union, that German guns were moving toward the Polish border, and that the Nazis considered the “dispute over Danzig as won.”

German Pontoon Bridge

Almost a month into the war, photos are now starting to appear in American papers.  Of course, war reporting a hundred years ago was not an instantaneous affair, especially when it came to photojournalism.  Every photo in an American paper had to cross the Atlantic by steamer before publication.

This photo, from an Arizona paper, shows a German pontoon bridge, probably in Belgium.  The caption notes that the destruction of bridges in Belgium and France did little to slow the advancing German troops, since German engineers carried the materials to quickly construct bridges such as this one.

U.S. Sets Wireless Neutrality Rules

German station at Sayville, Long Island, allowed back on the air.

German station at Sayville, Long Island, allowed back on the air.

A hundred years ago today, August 21, 1914, President Wilson resolved the issue of use of wireless stations in U.S. territory by the warring nations. After protests from Germany, whose cable had been cut and had only wireless contact with Germany, it was decided that the warring nations would be permitted to send coded messages from their stations in the U.S.

Largely because of the practical impossibility, there would be no censorship of cable traffic on the remaining transatlantic cables.

As noted here earlier, it was Hiram Percy Maxim who brought to the government’s attention the German’s transmission of coded messages.

Among the newspapers carrying the report was the 22 August 1914 edition of the New York Tribune.

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Vegetation on Neptune

Vegetation on Neptune (artist's conception).

Vegetation on Neptune (artist’s conception).

This 1914 drawing (an artist’s conception) depicts the vegetation supposed to exist on the planet Neptune. The latest spectrographic evidence suggested the presence of chlorophyll on all of the planets. Surprisingly, “the farther the planet from the sun, the more luxuriant the vegetation.” Accordingly, Neptune contains the lush growth shown here.

The illustration and accompanying text can be found in the April 11, 1914, issue of The Illustrated London News.  The article cites the work of Professor Percival Lowell.

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Another Great War Looms

Milwaukee Journal Headline, 20 Aug 1939:  "Is This the Week?"  All Europe Wonders

In 1919, Woodrow Wilson stated, “I can predict with absolute certainty that within another generation there will be another world war if the nations of the world do not concert the method by which to prevent it.”  

It turned out to be less than a generation.  On this day a hundred years ago, the First World War was well under way.

And only 25 years later, 75 years ago today, this headline, from the Milwaukee Journal of August 20, 1939, shows that Wilson’s prophecy was about to come true.  It turned out that this wasn’t the week.  It would be eleven more days until Germany invaded Poland, marking the start of the Second World War.

Radio as a Tool of War, 1914

With the Great War, the wireless telegraph was clearly coming of age and was relied upon by the warring powers.  The need for wartime communications was best illustrated by the Battle of New Orleans.  The War of 1812 should have ended with the signing of the Treaty of Ghent on December 24, 1814, but word didn’t reach Louisiana in time to prevent the Battle of New Orleans from taking place on January 8, 1815.

By the time of the American Civil War, the telegraph had become an important tool of war, and both building and destroying telegraph lines became important military tasks.

The Great War was the first in which cutting telegraph lines was no longer a strategic priority. This was recognized early in the war, as shown by this report in the El Paso Herald, Aug. 21, 1914:


France and Russia in Constant Touch, Despite Germany’s Efforts to Stop It.

Washington, D. C, Aug. 21. In wars of the 19th century an army spent much time in attempting to cut an enemy’s telegraph and telephone wires. To break the transmission of dispatches today is practically impossible, thanks to Mr. Marconi and his co-inventors, declare military experts here. The two allies against Germany and Austro-Hungary, France and Russia, are probably in constant touch every hour indeed every minute, of the day and night.

The can talk right over Germany, Moscow and Paris can cooperate perfectly. Probably Gen. Joffre and grand duke Nicholaievitch know each of them what the other’s forces are doing from hour to hour.

An incident of the Balkan war shows the remarkable possibilities of wireless. The allies bottled up Adrianople. holding all roads to Constantinople. But in the city was a 1-1/2 k.w. Marconi wireless telegraph station of the portable type. At no time did the station fail, and in the course of the siege, more than 450,000 words were transmitted to headauarters without hitch.

lhe allies attempted to stifle the station by placing wireless outfits to the east and west of Adrianople, but their attempt to “jam” the Turkish signals was in vain.

Usefulness Is Demonstrated.

The usefulness of wireless was also shown in the recall of certain ships at the outbreak of the present war. One ship was brought back after she had proceeded within two days’ journey of Europe, and thus was saved from the enemy.

Many small craft have been seized, because they were at sea. at the outbreak of hostilities and had no wireless. The effect of this experience will undoubtedly be the cause of a wide use of air communications, as a kind of assurance against capture by a hostile warship.

Austria-Hungary has four important government wireless stations; Germany, 17. France, 18; Russia, 28; and Great Britain, 68.

Try To Insure Privacy.

Many means are now used for insuring the privacy of a wireless dispatch. The Marconi stations are designed to obtain this result by changing the wave length of the transmitter at frequent intervals.

This change can be made in a fraction of a second. The operator can shift his “tune” after every three or four words if he considers it necessary. Just before the shift he sends a code letter indicating to which wave length he is about to change. The operator at the station receiving makes the necessary readjustments to follow him without difficulty. It is believed that this system, properly carried out, is eavesdropper-proof.

Eiffel tower station, which France depends upon for communication with Russia, has the advantage that interference is practically impossible, owing to the peculiar sound of the signal emitted.

In other war news, the paper reported that Germany has lodged a protest with the U.S. State Department regarding the German wireless station in New Jersey. Cables between the United States and both France and England were still in operation, without American censorship. But since the German cable had been destroyed, the only method of communication between the United States and Germany was by wireless. The German charge d’affaires protested, and the matter was referred to President Wilson, who the paper noted might impose the same censorship on England and France.

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Ship’s Wireless in 1914

FranconiaRadioCabinThis illustration is from the 1914 text “Wireless telegraphy: a handbook for the use of operators and students“.

It shows the somewhat cramped, but well equipped, wireless cabin of the Cunard Line’s R.M.S. Franconia. The wireless equipment was supplied by the Marconi Company, and consisted of a 1-1/2 kw spark transmitter, in addition to a totally independent 500 watt emergency transmitter. The receiver consisted of either a magnetic detector or a Fleming valve.

RMS Franconia (Photo, Wikipedia.)

RMS Franconia
(Photo, Wikipedia.)

The first voyage of the Franconia was from Liverpool to New York in February, 1911. She served commercially until 1915, when she was called in for use as a troop transport in the Mediterrranean. She was sunk by a German U-Boat on October 4, 1916. Fortunately, she was carrying no troops at the time, but of the 314 crew, 12 were lost.  The ship, along with the equipment shown above, lies at the bottom of the Mediterranean, 195 miles east of Malta.