1806 Histoire Naturelle Generale Et Particuliere Des Plantes
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Charles Augustus Prest's Nutmeg Graters ... "that failed !" 

Known Locations where C. A. Prest LivedIt is difficult to create a moneymaking houseware product such as a nutmeg grater. Although a Prest mechanical nutmeg grater was manufactured, due to unprofitability or poor merchandising, the product failed to prosper. In fact, until a lucky nutmeg grater collector acquired one, it was widely believed that these items were only patented and never went into production at all. While Charles A. Prest successfully obtained two different patents for his nutmeg grater designs, only his second invention is verified as being manufactured.

Charles Augustus Prest (1863/4~1928) was born to Lydia Ann (Blackie) and Isaac P. Prest in remote Spry Harbour, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada where his father Isaac was first employed in local gold mines before gaining sufficient acerage to become an independent farmer. Charles was the eldest of 8 siblings and as a youth, his family variously lived in neighboring villages of Spry Harbour, Mooseland and Upper Musqquodoboit (Fig A-1). At the age of 17 in 1881, Molega Gold Mine



Charles worked as a "Farmerson", but by age 22, in 1885 he had become an "underground manager" for the Malaga District gold mine (Fig B). After Isaac died in 1886, records indicate that Charles first "arrived" in 1888 "into the United States". This seems a temporary relocation because his listing as an "underground manager" at Malaga District in Nova Scotia continued through September 1893.

US Patent 1895In early 1893, Lydia (Isaac's widow and Charles' mother) permanently emigrated from Canada, relocating to Northborough, Massachusetts (Fig A-2) along with her second son Samuel Willis Prest (1864~1925). About this time, it seems that Charles also followed. Why this family selected to reside in the quaint farming community of Northborough, Massachusetts remains a mystery, yet a few small manufacturing ventures had begun appearing since 1856, when the "The Agricultural Railroad" opened with Northborough being its "terminus" (the end stop from Boston). When the Prests arrived, the population was 1940, increasing only slightly to 2164 residents by 1900. During this period, Samuel Prest is well documented as a day laborer, living together with his mother, wife and his 7 children. However, there is no substantial evidence indicating that Charles ever permanently lived there. Between 1894 and 1896, Charles successfully acquired two separate patents for mechanical nutmeg graters, claiming Northborough as his residence, but in-depth investigation found no other records to Canadian Patent 1895confirm this as his home. More likely, remaining unmarried throughout his 30's, Charles never settled in one place for very long. Just where or for what duration Charles resided anywhere, or the location where his nutmeg grater was manufactured, remains uncertain.

Charles' first USA Patent № 533141 (Fig C-1a) was filed on March 10, 1894 and granted on January 29, 1895; and he also secured a duplicate Canadian Patent № 48544 for this "Râpe à muscade" on March 28, 1895 (Fig C-1b). His second USA Patent № 5575081 (Fig C-2) was filed on July 2, 1985 and granted March 31, 1986. Comparing the two designs, his second patent appears an improvement to his first. The Prest's nutmeg grater (Fig D) is constructed having complex moving elements. Awkward to operate, it seems a less efficient US Patent 1896design than other nutmeg graters already on the market. The Boston "pat. solicitor and lawyer", Thomas W. Hobday (Fig E) served as a witness for both the Prest patent documents. While judge {E}usebius A. Kellogg of Boston was an additional witness to the first patent, attorney Henderson J. Edwards of Boston was the additional witness to second patent. [NOTE: On the actual patent, Eusebius is misspelled as Usebius.] All of these men were prominent Bostonians of influence, and one speculates that they recognized the potential profit with new inventions. It is possible they facilitated in the manufacture and marketing of Prest's nutmeg graters.

Charles A.Prest Nutmeg Grater





In late December of 1903, Charles married Anna Vivian Hurd (1875~1974) in Arlington, Massachusetts. Anna was a Canadian from Halifax, Nova Scotia and from 1898 to 1903, she alternately resided between the United States and Canada. Following their marriage, the couple settled in Topsham, Maine (Fig A-3), where Charles opened and operated his own general contracting firm. In Topsham, they raising 5 children. On August 18, 1928, Charles died in Billerica, Massachusetts, at the age of 63.

[NOTE: This specific nutmeg grater, shown in (Fig D), is also illustrated in 1). Diane Stoneback, Kitchen Collectibles ~ The Essential Buyer's Guide, Wallace-Homestead Book Company, Radnor, PA, 1994; Page 217;  and 2). Carol Bohn, American Patented Nutmeg graters 1854 ~ 1935 ...Plus!, Heritage Printers, Mifflinburg, PA, 2015; Pages 258-260.]


Witness Thomas Hobday

Prest's mechanical nutmeg graters was unsuccessful and quickly vanished from production. Any that remain among today's collectors are most valuable.

      Help us find additional photographs of Charles Augustus Prest, his family, home or business. We would love to include these images with
      this research.  Is anyone wishing to share their images?  Let us hear from you.  Thanks you!

                                                                                                                                                                                           [KLOPFER article © May 2018 ]