Patents

Guide to finding patents, based on the collections of the State Library of Victoria

Introduction

Victorian original patents 1854-1904

 From 1854 to 1856 there were 29 patent applications, and each of these was allocated a Register General’s Office (RGO) number. This is the patent number. 

From 1857 to 1866 each patent application was allocated a Register General’s Office (RGO) number and a Chief Secretary’s Office (CSO) number.  The CSO number is the patent number.

From 1867 to 1904, each patent application was allocated just a patent number.

Finding a patent registered in Victoria between 1854 and 1904

Do you know?

  • number of patent
  • date of patent
  • name of inventor
  • nature of invention

If you know the number of the patent and the year,  you can  order the patent from the Victorian patents collection or ask a librarian to do this for you. 

If you don't know the number of the patent or the year, search the microfiche indexes first, or use our Online Inquiry Form to ask a librarian.

You can also search the Victorian government gazette online (see details below).

State Library holdings of Victorian patents

Victorian patents [microform].

These microfiche patents cover the period 1854 to 1904.
Series 1 covers Patents 001-7542 (1857-1890). Series 2 covers Patents 10302-21427 (1893-1904)

The full holdings of Victorian patents are held at MF 367. You can make a request on our Online Inquiry form. Note that there is a gap in our collection between part of 1890 up to 1893. 

State specifications

Reprint of Victorian patent specifications originally published 1854-1888. This is a print edition, published in the early twentieth century.

Requesting a patent from the State Library catalogue

The catalogue entry for these Victorian patents is listed under the title Victorian patents [microform]

Make sure you select the MF367 location, as this location holds the full patent records. Click on Request for today or Request for another day.  In the Comment box,  type in the patent number and year.  Click on Send Request.

Victorian patents 1854 to 1904

Searching the microfiche indexes:

The patents indexes for the years 1854 to 1904  are held in several locations: in a folder containing microfiche in the Redmond Barry Reading Room at R 608 V66 PI; in drawers at GMF 105 Box 3 (in the Family History / Newspapers Reading Room) and also in storage at  MF 367. (The MF 367 indexes are for staff access only). 

The indexes give the patent number and the year, which you need to request the patent. Note that the early patents from 1854 to 1856 are listed on the indexes, but the full patents for those years have not been reproduced on microfilm. For these early patents, request the reprinted State specifications volumes held at PER 608 V66S.  

The patents for the years 1857 to 1904 are held on microfiche at MF 367  and must be requested from the online library catalogue under the title Victorian patents for delivery by staff, or you can complete the Online Inquiry form.  Give the patent  number and the year when requesting the patent.

It is not essential to know the name of the inventor or the type of invention when ordering the patent.

Search by name

If you only have the name of the inventor, and you believe the patent was registered in Victoria between 1854 and 1904, you can search the Victoria government gazette online. Note that a search of the gazette gives you information such as the number of the patent,  the name of the inventor, and  brief details of the invention, but not the full patent specifications.

  • go to 'Advanced search'
  • type in the surname of the inventor and the first initial if known (not the full first name)
  • type in a date range if known
  • highlight the three 'Patents' subject headings from the drop down 'Subject' box

If a patent was registered in Victoria between 1854 and 1904 and you have the correct name of the patentee then you should find the gazetted notice from this search. This will list the patent number and the date.

Try this search example - find a patent by Robert Bell for a printing press in 1874. Answer - Robert Bell - Victorian Patent Number 1863 – Date 3/1/1874 - for “Improvements in printing presses”.

Now that you have the patent number and date, you can order the microfiche (MF 367) of the relevant Victorian patent to view (and copy) in the Library. When ordering this item be sure to include the patent number and date. The  patentee's name and title of patent is not necessary for orders.

Search by number

If you only have the number of the patent, but you think the patent was registered in Victoria between 1854 and 1904, check the listing from the document Victorian Patent Numbers (in the box at right).

This will enable you to confirm that the number  may be a patent number, and the year that number was registered.

You can order the microfiche (MF 367) of the relevant Victorian patent to view (and copy) in the Library. When ordering this item be sure to include the patent number and date; patentee's name and title of patent is optional. (See example above).

Search by subject

The best way to identify Victorian patents by subject is by searching the microfiche name and subject indexes to Victorian patents. The State Library's Victorian patent indexes cover the years 1854 to 1893.

Search Victorian government gazette in Austlii

Another way to identify a patent by its subject or by the name of the inventor is by searching the Victorian government gazette database in Austlii.

Once you have the patent number and date, you can order the microfiche (MF 367) of the relevant Victorian patent to view (and copy) in the Library. When ordering this item be sure to include the patent number and date or year.

Requesting a patent from the State Library catalogue

The catalogue entry for these Victorian patents is listed under the title Victorian patents [microform]

Click on Request for today or Request for another day. This brings up a box with Select copy. Click any Generic item record. The patents are not individually barcoded, so a generic record is used.  

In the Comment box,  type in the patent number and year.  Click on Send Request.

 

Summary of patents holdings at the State Library of Victoria

Victorian patents 1854-1904

  • Patents from 1854 to 1856 are listed on the microfiche indexes at R 608 V66 PI, GMF 105 Box 3 and MF 367, but full patent details for these years are not held  on microfiche. Use the indexes to find the patent number and year for patents from 1854 to 1856, then request the print volumes: see State Specifications paper reprints 1854-1888 below.
  • The Victorian patents [microform] collection at MF 367  has full details of  patent applications  for the years 1857 to 1904, when  patents registration was  taken over by the Commonwealth government. 
  • Note: there is a gap in holdings between 1890 and 1893. Our Series 1 patent holdings end at patent 7542 (1890) and our Series 2 patent holdings commence at patent 10302 (1893). See the Locations tab under the catalogue record for further details on our holdings.
  • The Victoria Government Gazette is searchable online for basic patent details. You can search the gazette by inventor name to find the patent number and year, instead of the microfiche indexes. (See indexes box on this page for more detail).
  • Once you know the patent number and year, you can  order the microfiche copy of the patent application  from storage. Include the year and number of patent.

State specifications 1854-1888

These are early twentieth century paper reprints of nineteenth century Victorian patents.

  • Use the  microfiche patents  listed above in preference to the print copies of the State Specifications. The exception is  patents for 1854 to 1856, which  were not produced on microfilm  but  were reprinted in the state specifications and for   other patents not on microfiche. This reprint series includes cross-references to patents lodged in other states.

Other online resources

National Archives of Australia (NAA)

  • NAA in Canberra holds a series of Victorian patents. These include overseas patents also lodged in Victoria.
  • some individual patents are indexed, but most are not
  • search by name, date, keywords.
  • the major NAA series of Victorian patents are series number A13139 (31st March 1854 to 11th March 1857) and series number A13149 (11th March 1857 to 31st December 1904)
  • duplicates of Series Number A13149 are held in series number A13150.

Searching the NAA website for patents

You can  do a basic search from the National Archives of Australia homepage Type the full name or surname of the inventor in the search box with the word patent, for example Smith patent and click on the search button. This gives you a list of patents.

Alternatively, go to the National Archives of Australia homepage and click on Search the Collection, then click on RecordSearch. You can do a Basic Search, using terms such as the surname of the inventor and the word patent. There is an Advanced search option if you have more information.

You can select and request a copy of the patent you want from the list of patents on the NAA page. There is a charge.  If a patent has already been digitised, an icon looking like a document will appear in the Digitised Item column.

Google patents 

  • limited number of Victorian patents were also applied for in the United States
  • search Google patents for a limited number of  listings of particular patents by name, date, keywords

British patents

  • limited number of Victorian patents may have been applied for in Great Britain
  • some of these may be found in the State Library's print collections, or in the European Patent Office (EPO) database Espacenet

Victorian patent numbers

Use the document above to confirm in what year a patent number appeared.

This will help when the only details you have are a number.

Sunshine harvester patent

H.V. McKay, Victorian patent 4006 lodged 24 March 1885 (IP Australia)

Sunshine harvester

 

Sunshine harvester

Patent indexes

Victoria government gazette online

Search the  Historic Victoria Government Gazettes from 1851 to 1997 database.

Listed are patent numbers, dates of applications, names of applicants, titles of patents and brief details of the patent.

  • Search the gazettes under 'advanced search: Search by name keyword, date (if required) and importantly,  highlight the three subject headings that include the term 'patents'

Advanced search gazette

You can also search the Victoria government gazette on the Austlii webpage. This has advanced search options and name search. See the search suggestions on this page of our guide.

Microfiche and print indexes held in the State Library

For the cumulative name and subject index 1854-1866  and the annual name, subject and geographical indexes 1867-1893, see the following item in the State Library catalogue:

Patents and patentees. Indexes for the year ... / compiled from specifications lodged in the Patent Office attached to the Registrar-General's Department, Melbourne.

Cumulative name and subject index 1854-1866:

This index includes:

a name index of applicants in alphabetical order;

a subject index in three parts: a key list of terms and phrases used in the titles of patent applications; a synopis of broad subject headings and a subject  index.

Where to find these indexes:

  • microfiche copy on open access at R 608 V66PI (Information Centre) and GMF 105/ Box 3 (Family History/Newspapers).
  • print edition in storage at PER 608 V66P
  • The open access microfiche version should be used

Annual name, subject and geographical  indexes 1867-1893:

Each year includes  an alphabetical name index of applicants for patents; a subject  index and a chronological and numerical index giving the patent number and details of the application.

Where to find these indexes

  • microfiche copy on open access at R 608 V66PI (Information Centre) and GMF 105/ Box 3 ( Family History/Newspapers)
  • print edition in storage at PER 608 V66P

Open access microfiche version should be used.

Annual name only indexes 1894-1904:

Extracts from Victorian government gazette entries from 1894 to 1904.  The only available indexes to Victorian patents for these years are the names of patents applicants recorded in the Victorian government gazettes. The number after each name refers to the page number in the gazette for that year. The gazette gives brief details for the patent application, including date and patent number.

See Victorian patents [microform]