© 2005 P. Missin - Details

British Patent 2067816

Have you ever being wailing on a draw note on a harmonica when the reed has suddenly snapped off and flown down your throat? It has never happened to me, but perhaps I have just been lucky. British Patent 2067816, granted in 1981 to Frederick Robjent, presents something to safeguard against this hazard. A harmonica is shown with molded plastic comb and covers that prevent loose reeds from leaving the instrument:

This design is also covered by German Patent 3102006, French Patent 2474216, US Patent 4342250 and Canadian Patent CA1145977. In each case the patent is owned by the Quaker Oats Company of Chicago. Initially I had assumed that they were planning on giving away free harmonicas in cereal boxes and were scared of lawsuits from angry parents after their children had inhaled a reed. However, Mr Robjent is named as the inventor for several other Quaker patents, including three separate roller skate designs and a toy airplane game, as well as other toy patents for Fisher-Price and Mattel and further investigation revealed that Fisher-Price was once owned by the Quaker Company and was later sold to Mattel Inc.

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