Wednesday, 27 February 2008

How Inventive! (No. 11)

Lots o' love for the lotto!  If you've ever played a lottery scratch-off game, you know how annoying it can be to use a fingernail to scratch off the gunk that covers the playing field.  The gunk gets caught under the nail or little bits get all over the place.  Most of us solve this problem by scratching it off with a penny, or whatever else is handy.  But not Ronald Smith of Long Beach, California.  In U.S. Patent 4,646,382, he claims a dedicated scraping device for lottery tickets.  The unusual thing about this patent is the introduction to its written description — which reads like the introduction to a master's thesis in world history.


This invention relates to gambling generally, and more specifically the invention relates to lottery and lottery tickets. Still more specific, the invention relates to a device for scraping lottery tickets.


Human history is cyclic.  Civilizations rise from primitive cultures or previously decadent and crushed civilizations, often after a long period of darkness.  As civilizations begin a birth, or the rebirth, moral values of the group, and ultimately of the individual rise and become dominate.  The wealth of civilizations is often first enjoyed only by a small, select few, sometimes determined by heredity and sometimes by ability.  The recognition of moral values, the integrity of the individual, the responsibility of each individual to look after his own needs and to care his own rises as a civilization grows toward maturity.  Gradually, the oppressed and the less fortunate begin to partake of the feast of civilization and the conscience of society is turned toward taking care of those who are unable to care for themselves.

Those who have wealth and power are the first to gain education.  Education, at first, is a means of enjoying the beauties of the earth, creating beauty, setting standards and values.  As education progresses, it becomes more oriented toward occupations and trades and professions and means of earning livelihood.  A strong desire for an educated population becomes a dominate drive of a maturing civilization, and the resources of the economy are focused toward educating and preparing those who will assume leadership in the future to assume that leadership is a responsible and ethical manner.  As civilization reaches its crowning glory where all who have the drive and the will have the opportunity for education, all have the opportunity for work, and all have the opportunity for individual expression and growth and development, there creeps into civilization a growing proportion of hedonistic cultures whose goal in life is the profligate dissipation of life in sensualistic ritual and a subculture of torpid, shiftless and indolent individuals who live from the charity of others, either through the individual charity of those individuals who have wealth or through government taxation.  This later subculture is generally at a very much lower economic status than the majority who have developed civilization to the point of individual responsibility and individual initiative and growth.  As these two subcultures continue to grow and develop, they sap the industry and ingenuity of society to the point where a majority of society looks to the minority for its economic support, and a very small minority of society seek only for pleasure.

At this point, the importance of education continues to receive lip service, and the importance of the traditional social and economic values of individual integrity and responsibility continue to be the subject of rhetoric, but the values of society have so shifted that no segment of society desires to pay the price for quality education, but opiate their minds in the vast wastelands of gambling and television.  Taxes have been increased to a confiscatory level, and society is unwilling to bear the burden of additional taxes.  Demands upon government, as more individual payments are made and social benefits increase bring chaos and dependency.  Deficit spending becomes the mode of financial planning, and alternatives to taxation are sought for.

There has existed in this society, from its beginning a small group of business men and others who thrive upon the weaknesses of individuals and of society, making their living through the pedaling of pornography, providing gambling parlors and casinos, and providing an endless train of mindless trivia which passes for entertainment.  This group, seeing the opportunity to wedge itself into society through governmental power, persuades the people that they can waste their lives in indolence, attain wealth and solve society's problems through gambling sponsored by the government, bait their trap with a promise of better education for all.  Society, thus, succumbs to its lowest elements, and government abandons its rule as a model of integrity and reliability.  Thus, the state lottery is born.

With the state lottery comes one of the greatest artistic and wealth-creating inventions of all times, the Lottery Ticket!  With the lottery ticket, however, comes a great problem which burdens society.  Many lottery tickets include a backing of cardboard or other rigid stock material, printed indicia thereupon, and an opaque coating over some or all of the indicia.  The lottery ticket, of this type, is utilized by the purchaser paying money into the state in the hope that by by scraping the ticket he will regain more money than he paid in.  The promise is made is that someone will win millions of dollars.  The state, however, is careful to minimize the odds against winning any substantial amount are several million to one.  Not withstanding, these enormous odds against winning, the population flocks to the grocery store, the service station, the department store, the all-night liquor store, the drug store, and every other conceivable kind of merchandising operation wherein lottery sales have become a major source of activity.  As the frantic lottery ticket purchaser grasps his ticket to instant wealth, he is confronted with a virtually insoluble dilemma — how to scrape the lottery ticket!  First of all, one must have an object with a sharp edge.  Coins are sometimes used, but these have a rounded edge and are most unsatisfactory.  Pocket knives are sometimes used, but these tend to cut through the ticket, as well as fingers and thumbs, and destroy it.  Nail files, credit card edges, razor blades and virtually every other conceivable kind of device with a sharp edge is used in the frantic race to scrape the opaque covering of the lottery ticket so as to become instantly rich.  Most or all of these methods are only moderately satisfactory.  One great hazard of most of these methods, lies in the fact that in some kinds of lottery tickets, if the number of the ticket, which is covered by the opaque covering, is disclosed by removing the opaque covering in that area, the lottery ticket is valid.  Thus, sadly, the dream of instant wealth is cut asunder by a careless scrape!

The present invention solves this dilemma and frees oppressed society from the risk of destroying the validity of the lottery ticket, and provides a simple, efficient and effective means for scraping lottery tickets.

Figures 1, 2, and 3 from U.S. Patent No. 4,646,382

Posted at 7:04:54 PM | Permalink

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