The World's First Patent for the Magnetic Compass

Author Karl Bodmer Welsh coracles in America
 














Nearly 800 years before the Mimosa set sail for Chubut, Madoc, one of the sons of King Owain ap Gruffudd and a small band of retainers landed near New Bern in North Carolina.  Researchers of the Pre-Columban Civilization Department of Boondock State University have discovered that stone fragments in a hitherto undeciphered script that were discovered on the banks of the Missouri river at the end of the 19th century are in a language closely related to modern Welsh.   

Dated about 1500 the fragments trace the history of Madoc's landing in Craven county, their welcome by, and assimilation with, indigenous Americans, their expeditions across the Appalachian mountains and the creation of a brilliant Celtic-Indigenous American civilization known as "the Mandans" that subsisted until the arrival of European settlers in the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

The reason I mention these discoveries is that one of the fragments appears to record some of the laws of the Missouri river settlement.  Many are based on the laws of Hywel the Good but there is one that is quite unique that can fairly be described as the world's first patent statute.  Probably pre-dating the Venetian patent statute by several decades it records the discovery by one of Madoc's companions of a stone that always points to the North ("cerrig i gogledd").  Anyone using that stone was bound to pay a tribute of a pot of grain to the chief who would distribute it to the heirs of the inventor in perpetuity.   As the Swiss artist, Karl Bodmer, recorded extensive inland navigation in coracles as late as the 19th century that must have been a very lucrative monopoly.

Credit for this line of research must go to a Russian friend who referred me to Alexander Pushkin's Медок в Уаллах, which is an important independent literary source of the Madoc story.  

Anyone wishing to discuss this topic can call me  on 020 7404 5252 or send me a message before 12:00 Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch time today, 

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