Mark Twain invented bra clasps.
Source: Original photo by H.S. Photos/ Alamy Stock Photo
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Mark Twain invented bra clasps.

The long-term uses for a product do not always materialize during the inventor’s lifetime. Such was the case with Mark Twain — the celebrated writer born Samuel Clemens — who filed a patent for a clothing accessory when he was 35 years old. Twain found wearing suspenders uncomfortable, so he came up with a device he called an “Improvement in Adjustable and Detachable Straps for Garments.” What he envisioned was a versatile two-piece strap — preferably elastic — that fastened with hooks. The hooks were inserted into a series of rows of small holes, chosen depending on how snug (or loose) the wearer wanted their garment. Twain thought this simple, gender-neutral tool could customize the fit of a wearer’s vests, shirts, pantaloons, or stays, a corset-like object that women wore under dresses.

Mark Twain didn’t live to see any of his patents reap success.
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Incorrect.
It's a Fib
In 1873, Twain patented a “self-pasting scrapbook” that allowed customers to skip the adhesive. This invention achieved some $50,000 in sales (more than $1 million today). He did not fare as well with his 1885 patent, "Mark Twain's Memory-Builder," a complicated, history-based game.

When Twain submitted his patent, in September 1871, Henry C. Lockwood was attempting to patent a similar invention he described as an “elastic waist-strap.” Utilizing a process known as “interference,” the U.S. Patent Office had both men compose statements in order to determine which design originated first. Twain responded by writing a characteristic short story, explaining how he had given the idea thought for four or five years before making his prototype that August. The office accepted his claim to being first, and patent No. 121,992 was granted to Twain on December 19, 1871. However, thanks to changing fashions — waistcoats with adjustable buckles, dropped waistlines that accommodated belts — his garment straps were not produced for several decades. In 1914, four years after Twain’s death and long after his hard-won patent expired, Mary Phelps Jacob patented the first bra from handkerchiefs and ribbon. When she sold her patent to the Warner Brothers Corset Company, they added Twain’s straps to the back to keep the garment in place.   

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Numbers Don’t Lie
Oscar nominations earned by "The Adventures of Mark Twain," a 1944 biopic starring Fredric March
3
Years it took Mark Twain to write "The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn"
7
The most cats Mark Twain ever owned at once (his feline family included Beelzebub, Sour Mash, and Tammany)
19
Number of books (covering novels, short stories, and essays) Twain published during his career (counts vary)
30
For 17 years, Mark Twain lived next door to “Uncle Tom's Cabin” author _______ in Hartford, Connecticut.
For 17 years, Mark Twain lived next door to “Uncle Tom's Cabin” author Harriet Beecher Stowe in Hartford, Connecticut.
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Think Twice
Mark Twain came very, very close to accurately predicting the date of his sudden death.

Mark Twain’s mother, Jane Lampton Clemens, expected to give birth to her sixth child in early 1836. Instead, he was born two months premature, on November 30, 1835. The date fell just a few weeks after Halley’s comet was at perihelion — or closest to the sun. Twain developed a lifelong fascination with the comet, which orbits the sun approximately every 75 to 76 years. In 1909, he said, “I came in with Halley’s comet in 1835. It is coming again next year, and I expect to go out with it. It will be the greatest disappointment of my life if I don’t go out with Halley’s comet. The Almighty has said, no doubt: ‘Now here are these two unaccountable freaks; they came in together, they must go out together.’ Oh, I am looking forward to that.” Halley’s comet was back at its perihelion on April 20, 1910, and Twain died of angina pectoris the following night. 

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