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History of the Mousetrap

Has anyone built a better mousetrap?

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1917 Mousetrap

1920 Mousetrap

USPTO
James Henry Atkinson was the British inventor who in 1897 invented the prototype mousetrap called the "Little Nipper". The Little Nipper is the classic snapping mousetrap that we are all familiar with that has the small flat wooden base, the spring trap, and the wire fastenings.

The Little Nipper slams shut in 38,000s of a second and that record has never been beaten. This is the design that has prevailed until today. This mousetrap has captured a sixty percent share of the British mousetrap market alone, and an estimated equal share of the international market.

James Atkinson sold his mousetrap patent in 1913 for 1,000 pounds to Procter, the company that has been manufacturing the "Little Nipper" ever since, and has even erected a 150-exhibit mousetrap museum in their factory headquarters.

American, John Mast of Lititz, Pennsylvania received a patent on his similar snap-trap mousetrap in 1899.

Humane Mousetraps

Austin Kness had an idea for a better mousetrap back in the 1920s. The Kness Ketch-All Multiple Catch mousetrap doesn't use bait. It catches mice alive and can catch several before it needs to be reset.

Mousetraps Galore

Did you know that the Patent Office has issued over 4400 mousetrap patents, however, only about twenty of those patents have made any money? Catch a few of the different designs for mousetraps in our mousetrap gallery.

Continue > Gallery of Historical Mousetraps

A special thanks goes to Michael A Beaven for his consultation on this article.

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