Teasing out the evidence from inventors’ drawings, descriptions, and claims in patent records is something librarians at Patent and Trademark Resource Centers do with expertise and pride. Another important source for our understanding of inventions, the patent models illustrating the function of an invention, were created and submitted with patents between 1790 and 1880.1 The models show the invention in three dimensions (maximum size allowed: 12” x 12” x 12”) and even include some working parts.
Hampton, Barbara J. "Building the Patent Knowledgebase With Life-Size Patent Models." Journal of the Patent and Trademark Resource Center Association 26 (2016). http://ptrca.org/newsletters/2016/hampton