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British Industrial History

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James Henry Atkinson

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James Henry Atkinson (1849–1942) was a British ironmonger from Leeds, Yorkshire who is best known for his 1899 patent of the Little Nipper mousetrap. He is cited by some as the inventor of the classic spring-loaded mousetrap, but this basic style of mousetrap was patented a few years earlier in the United States by William Chauncey Hooker in 1894.

Atkinson patented various inventions including a number of mousetrap mechanisms (GB189827488, GB189913277, GB190002503, GB190008317, GB190820769, GB191022542). The mousetrap patents included a number of variations of the now classic snapping mousetrap consisting of a spring-loaded hinged metal bar mounted on a small flat wooden base. It slams shut in a fraction of a second, killing the mouse by breaking its spine and causing shock and internal bleeding. Although some of his designs were more sophisticated (for example treadle activated triggers) it is the simple ‘Little Nipper´ that was the most successful. The spring-on-board mousetrap design has captured a sixty-percent share of the British mousetrap market alone, and an estimated equal share of the international market.

1872 Married(1) Fanny Maria Rayner (1852–1927)

1911 Living at Gateland Lane, Shadwell, Yorkshire: [[James Henry Atkinson|James Atkinson (age 62 born Heckmondwike), Animal Trap Maker - Employer. married 36 years. Living with housekeeper and her children.[1] Note: He married this housekeeper Leah Beales in 1928

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

1928 Married(2) to Leah Elizabeth Beales

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Sources of Information

  1. 1911 Census