Original Patent for the first metal oil drum

Edward Fielding

Grantham, United States

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Artist's Description

Nellie Bly was assigned a 1905 patent for the “Metal Barrel” by its inventor, Henry Wehrhahn, who worked at her Iron Clad Manufacturing Company.

During a 1904 visit to Europe, Nellie Bly saw glycerin containers made of steel. “I determined to make steel containers for the American trade,” she said. She patented her own “metal barrel” one year later.

“My first experiment leaked and the second was defective because the solder gave way, and then I brazed them with the result that the liquid inside was ruined by the brazing metal,” she said.

“I finally worked out the steel package to perfection, patented the design, put it on the market and taught the American public to use the steel barrel,” she added.
Inventive Employee Henry Wehrhahn
Real credit must go to Nellie Bly’s employee, Henry Wehrhahn of Brooklyn, New York, who in December 1905 received two patents that would lead to the modern 55-gallon steel barrel.

“My invention has for its object to provide a metal barrel which shall be simple and strong in construction and effective and durable in operation,” Wehrhahn explained in his patent, no. 808,327, a flanged metal barrel. The familiar encircling hoops allowed for guided rolling of the barrel for better control.

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