The face of invention: Skills, experience, and the commitment to patenting in nineteenth-century Victoria

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This paper uses patent data from Victoria to examine the roles played by skill and experience in Australian invention during the colonial era. In addition to identifying a broadening involvement of Australians in inventive activity in the second half of the nineteenth century, this paper also provides evidence which indicates that technological creativity in Australia in this period did not depend on either the existence of a body of highly skilled workers or major advances in the stock of knowledge of which only they were cognizant. Rather, common sense and the acquisition of basic practical skills appear to have been the only prerequisites for inventiveness. Given the widespread availability of such skills in the colonies, the article concludes that the supply of patentable ideas in nineteenth-century Australia must have been fairly elastic.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)232-257
Number of pages26
JournalAustralian Economic History Review
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 1998
Externally publishedYes

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