Searching over 5,500,000 cases.

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.


decided: November 10, 1890.



Author: Lamar

[ 137 U.S. Page 65]

 MR. JUSTICE LAMAR delivered the opinion of the court.

This is a suit in equity brought in the Circuit Court of the United States for the Northern District of Illinois, by Simon Florsheim and Thomas H. Ball against Gustav Schilling, for the alleged infringement of letters patent Nos. 238,100 and 238,101, the first of which was for an "improvement in corsets," and the second for an "improvement in elastic gores, gussets, and sections for wearing apparel," both of which were issued to the complainants February 22, 1881, on applications filed, respectively, August 12, and July 16, 1880, the invention in each purporting to have been made by the complainant Florsheim.

The material parts of the specification in No. 238,100 and its claims, are as follows:

"The object I have in view is such an improvement upon the corset shown in the patent granted November 25, 1879, to Gustav Schilling and myself, that while the same will possess all of the advantages obtained by the use of the covered and grouped metal spiral springs it will allow an easier and more equal expansion of the entire corset, will adapt itself more perfectly to the form of the wearer, and will better supply the popular want, in that it will have means for lacing the corset at the back. The improved corset also includes a better and cheaper method of securing the springs and forming the groups, whereby the elastic sections can be stitched in place on a machine without interfering with the springs, and the elasticity of the sections cannot be injured by the stitching.

"My invention consists in the peculiar means for accomplishing this object, as fully hereinafter explained, and pointed out by the claims.

[ 137 U.S. Page 66]

     "In the accompanying drawings, forming a part hereof, figure 1 is a view of the corset in position from the front; Fig. 2, a similar view from the rear; Fig. 3, an elevation of a portion of one side of the corset, showing one of the elastic side sections; Fig. 4, a detail view, showing the preferred way of arranging and forming the springs of a group, one side of the covering cloth being removed; and Fig. 5, a vertical section through a portion of one of the elastic side sections of the corset.

"Like letters denote corresponding parts in all the figures.

"The corset is composed of two separate parts, A B, which are secured together at the front, as usual, by studs and loops, and at the back have eyelets for receiving lacings. The central sections C D, at the sides of the corset, which extend from under the arms down over the hips, instead of being made as usual, are constructed of two layers or thicknesses of cloth or other material, which thicknesses are sewed or woven together a portion of their width to form horizontal tubes which receive and cover small closely coiled spiral springs E, of metal. The pieces of cloth from which the sections C D are formed are considerably wider than such sections when completed, so that when puckered laterally they will be of the desired width. The tubes are located in the centre of the sections, and do not extend to the edges of the same, as seen in Fig. 4, so that margins will be left at the ends of the tubes, which margins are lapped with the adjoining sections of the corset and stitched thereto. The springs are arranged in groups, as shown, with puckered spaces of cloth, between such groups. The number of springs composing the groups will vary according to location, so as to give the requisite stiffness and elasticity. Thus, at the top and bottom of the elastic side sections the groups of springs should not be made so stiff as at the waist of the corset. The springs are passed through the tubes which are puckered over the springs to the desired extent. The springs terminate at the ends of the tubes and are secured to the thicknesses, so as to leave clear margins of unpuckered cloth outside of such springs. This is a great advantage over the construction shown in the patent before referred to, since it enables

[ 137 U.S. Page 67]

     the elastic sections to be stitched into the corset on a sewing machine, which cannot be well done when the ends of the springs are secured by the same stitching, since the needle strikes the coils of the spring and either cuts the spring or breaks the needle. Herein also is one of the peculiar advantages over rubber cloth. Rubber cloth, when stitched into a corset, always has more or less of the rubber cords cut off by the needle, and it is thus greatly weakened, while in my corset the elasticity of the sections cannot be affected by the stitching.

"The cheapest manner of arranging and securing the groups of springs to secure the above advantages is by making all the groups of each section from a single continuous length of metal spiral spring. The spring is secured at its upper end by stitches passed through the thickness at the end of the upper tube and inclosing one or more coils of the spring. The spring is then passed back and forth through the tubes, which are puckered at the same time. After forming one group the spring extends down between the thicknesses to the next group, and so on till the lowest group (or the uppermost group, as the case may be) is finished, when the spring may be cut off, if there is more than required, and will be secured by stitches passed through the thickness. The elastic section can then be placed in the corset, the plain margins being lapped with the edges of the adjoining sections and secured by lines of machine-stitching.

"By making the groups of springs of a single piece of coiled wire passed back and forth through the tubes and from one group to the other the groups relieve each other somewhat, and when one group is subjected to great strain the springs of the adjoining groups are stretched also. In addition, by constructing the spring in this manner no ends are left to wear through the cloth, as would be the case if separate springs, sewed at their ends, were used. It would be impracticable to insert separate springs and sew them in position at the ends of tubes, and if such springs were used, they would pull away from the fastening stitches in a short time. The springs can only be stretched to the full width of the cloth composing the

[ 137 U.S. Page 68]

     side sections, and they will be thus limited in their expansion so as not to be injured by being stretched too far.

"By having the elastic sections in the sides of the corset the corset can adapt itself to different forms without the use of other elastic sections or gores, and such elastic side sections, by extending the entire length of the corset, from under the arms down over the hips, allow the front and back of the corset to expand and contract from these central side points independently of each other and more easily and freely than when a back elastic section is used.

"My side elastic sections are made continuous from the top to the bottom of the corset, leaving no open spaces.

"The covered metal springs possess great advantages over rubber cloth for this purpose other than those before mentioned. The rubber cloth is not nearly so durable, and soon wears out and loses its elasticity at points subjected to the most strain. The rubber cloth also has equal stiffness throughout, and cannot be regulated to have different degrees of elasticity at different points; and it further does not possess that independent elasticity obtained by the groups of springs, each group acting wholly independent of all the other groups. The covered metal springs also do not heat and bind the flesh, as does the rubber cloth.

"It is essential also that the springs be arranged in groups, since, if placed contiguous throughout the elastic sections, the corset would be much too heavy and expensive, and such sections would be too stiff at some points and not stiff enough at others.

"As a modification of the corset it could be made continuous at the back without any provision for lacing, or the back could be provided with an elastic section; but I prefer the construction shown, since it enables the wearer to adjust the corset by means of the lacings, so that the elastic sections will always give to the corset an easy and pleasant tension.

"What I claim as my invention is --

"1. In a corset, an elastic section composed of two thicknesses of cloth or material having tubes in combination with the spiral metal springs E, ...

Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.