When you're getting ready to deck your halls this year, consider these holiday and winter gadgets that were patented through the years.
1. Patent No. USD477546, "Cactus Christmas Tree"
2. Patent No. USD487878, "Snowman Shaped Christmas Tree"
If even a cactus is too traditional, try this snowman Christmas tree, patented by Robert Ostermann in 2003.
3. Patent No. 5279871, "Action Christmas Tree Ornament"
4. Patent No. USD374968, "Tea Bag with Christmas Tree Shape"
5. Patent USD571251, "Modified Christmas Tree"
This tree, patented by Carlos Rosas in 2008, is perfect for those who are only marginally motivated to decorate for the holidays: Just anchor it to the wall!
6. Patent No. 1324342, "Bicycle Sleigh"
This vehicle, patented by Tom Dohoszuk in 1919, is "simulative of a bicycle and similarly operated whereby a rider may advance over the surface of ice or snow at a relatively high speed ... [and provides] means whereby the tractional effect may be increased or diminished at will, permitting the vehicle to glide upon a downwardly inclined surface or the traction wheel may be used as a brake when desired." Sounds fun—and dangerous!
7. Patent No. USD317397, "Reindeer door knob cover"
This festive/kinda scary door knob cover is for the holiday homemaker who has everything. It was patented by Mary C. Guberman in 1991.
8. Patent No. USD528268, "Holiday Hat"
9. Patent No. US1431440, "Snow Motor Vehicle"
This vehicle looks like it came straight from a superhero movie, but it was designed to tackle a very specific, non-superhero problem: Navigating on snowy roads. "In northern latitudes, where the snow fall is heavy for several months of the year, transportation by horse power and by wheeled motor vehicles is always difficult and often impossible," writes F.R. Birch in the patent for this vehicle, granted in 1922. "A successful snow motor vehicle must travel over deep, fresh snow falls, compacted snow or ice, ice crusts overlying soft snow, and slush, and must also accommodate itself to surface irregularities. ... So far as I am aware, I am the first to produce a really practical motor sled incorporating all of the features which are found to be essential in practice."
10. Patent No. US3561783, "Ski Bike"
Next to this ski bike, patented by Sunset Ave. (and invented by Richard H. Ellett) in 1971, that snow bike up above doesn't seem so dangerous. It's designed to be highly portable, rugged and durable, and "is capable of achieving high coasting speeds with with easy maneuverability in all snow conditions."
11. Patent No. USD372207, "Santa Figure in A Tub"
Santa obviously gets very dirty shimmying down all those chimneys—which is what we're going to believe is the inspiration for this figure, patented in 1996 by Seymour Cohen (who also brought us Patent No. USD385588, "Santa in a barrel blowing bubbles" and a whole slew of other Santa-themed inventions).
12. Patent No. US2607333, "Snowball Gun"
This device, patented by James W.O. Dell in 1952, will give its users an edge in their neighborhood snowball fight by forming and firing off pellets of snow. You won't shoot your own eye out, but the potential of taking out someone else's seems pretty high.
For 12-12-12, we’ll be posting twenty-four '12 lists' throughout the day. Check back 12 minutes after every hour for the latest installment, or see them all here.