Buffalo Bill’s Horse Bit Patent

Jul 25, 2016

In honor of Cheyenne Frontier Days, we thought we’d share this horse-related historical tidbit: Wyoming’s Buffalo Bill held a U.S. patent for a decorative bit modeled after a revolver.

Patent ImagesWilliam F. (Buffalo Bill) Cody received patent number D49,949 on November 28, 1916. This design patent for a bit was discovered while creating the Wyoming Inventors Database. Buffalo Bill Cody was known worldwide for many activities — Army scout, hunter, guide, Wild West showman — but not as an inventor. That changed when patent number D49,949 was discovered by the Wyoming Patent and Trademark Depository Library here at the WSL.

In 1913, after accruing massive debts, Buffalo Bill was forced to sell the Wild West Show at auction in Denver. After fulfilling a two-year travel obligation to the purchaser of the Wild West Show, Buffalo Bill was desperate for money and  searching for a way to restart his own show. Soon after the bit was patented, he assigned the patent to the North & Judd Manufacturing Company. Unfortunately, Buffalo Bill Cody died on January 10, 1917, before he was able to establish a new show. The Buffalo Bill Historical Center in Cody owns two examples of this bit.

Find his patent and many more examples of Wyoming innovators in our Wyoming Inventors digital collection.

If you have a question about this or any other article, please contact us at statelibrary@wyo.gov

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