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Feb 15, 2019 | Mystery Object

Delusion Mouse Trap – 1877

The Delusion Mouse Trap was designed by an American named John Morris.  He redesigned his first version of his trap and filed for a patent on August 4, 1877.  The patent was granted on September 25, 1877. 

The patent made clear what were considered to be the main deficiencies of his initial design.  It did away with one of the entrances and replaced it with a bait container.  The top of the trap was no longer transparent and was provided with a hinged lid, giving access both to the tunnel and the mouse holding chamber.  The frame of the one-way inner door was made so the door was less easy for a mouse to open from inside.  But perhaps the most important, an incoming mouse could now only step from the end of the seesaw directly through the inner door and had no chance to see that the outer door had reopened and might provide a possible means of escape.  The patent was then assigned to Claudius Jones whom recognised the trap’s commercial potential.  In fact the trademark “Delusion” was to become the name of the manufactured trap and in fact was the first US trademark ever applied to an animal trap.

There is little doubt that the name of the trap was intended to indicate its ability to delude mice into being caught.  In 1876 they were turning out from thirty to forty traps per day.  However, in 1877 they were manufacturing 10,000 traps and later in 1878 they were contracted to make two million to be made at a rate of one thousand per day or two thousand when demand warranted it. 

To help advertise the trap a gentleman of the firm wrote a sixteen-verse poem in its praise and some of the more memorable lines were used again by a subsequent manufacturer to promote the trap’s sales.  In 1877 Smith & Egge advertised the trap” The Delusion Mouse Trap – catches more mice than any other trap in the world; is always set and never out of order”.  See the advertisement for the poem.

This trap was donated to the Museum by Janet Riddle and was found in the barn on the Hodge Family farm.


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