Factory built in 1862

Washington Ave and 20th St (SW corner)

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania


Company's Office

1318 Chestnut Street Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

(1867 c.)


Sales Rooms of the Company

S. W. Corner of Eleventh and Chestnut Streets


Dessau & Pincus    629 Broadway, New York (1864)

Wm. H. Nicols    572 & 574 Broadway, New York (1867 c.)


American Button Hole, Overseaming and Sewing Machine Co.

285 Washington, Boston (1870)


American Button Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Co.

572 Broadway, New York (1870)

A.B.H.O. & SMC
A.B.H.O. & SMC
Weed SMC
Weed SMC
Weed SMC
Weed SMC



In 1854 Charles Miller received patent US 10.609. This was one of the first attempt for a buttonhole sewing machine.

In 1859 E. A. Goodes & E. L. Miller received a patent US 24.863. The invention relates to the formation of a stitch of novel character suitable for working button-holes and eyelet-holes, overseaming and for other kinds of work in which it was necessary or desirable for the stitches to pass over an edge. 

In the same year another important patent US 25.692 was granted to Kasimir  Vogel for a buttonhole sewing machine working with two or more threads.

In 1860 two more attempts for buttonhole sewing machines  were made, one with patent US 28.788 granted to Jacob B.  Steiner and the other with patent US 28.814 granted to Israel M.  Rose.

In 1861 George Franklin Case, in his patent US 33.029asserts that sewing machines have been already invented for the same purpose as his invention, but owing to their imperfections and complication have been but little used.

In 1862 Daniel  W. G. Humphrey received patent  US 36.617 for a button hole stitching machine. Later Humphrey made an improvement on his first machine with patent US 115.857 granted in 1871.

In 1863, from an article of the Journal of the Society of Arts of London, you can read that there are only two operations sewing machines cannot perform satisfactorily, viz: sewing on buttons and stitching button-holes. A thoroughly practical button-hole machine is much wanted and would be a fortune to the lucky proprietor. 



I found only very little information about this company. Most of this information are only speculation, starting from the name, the most controversial of them. So the following writ will be just assumption.

The factory was built in 1862 according to the Hexamer General Survey. From the survey map it would seem that there was no foundry, probably the building was built only for the assembly of machines parts and woodwork's. The factory was built just after the start of the American Civil War and I am not sure if it was only for making sewing machines.

George Rehfuss was the main contributor as inventors for the realization of the company's machines until 1878. George S. Rominger was the new patentee until 1884. Other inventors contributed to the company development. 


1. American Button-Hole Sewing Machine Company

2. American Button-Hole, Cording, Braiding and Machine Company

3. American Button-Hole Machine Company

4. American Button-Hole, Cording, Braiding and Embroidering Machine Company.

5. American Button-Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Company of Philadelphia

In August 2, 1864 patent US 43.742 was assigned to the American Button-Hole Sewing Machine Company.

In January 8, 1867 patent US 61.101 was assigned to the American Button-Hole, Cording, Braiding and Machine Company of New York.

In January 29, 1867 patent US 61.533 was assigned to the American Button-Hole Machine Company of Philadelphia and to the American Button-Hole, Cording, Braiding and Embroidering Machine Company.

In July 21, 1868 patent US 80.090 was assigned to the American Button-Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Company.

The above prospectus let me think that the assignees of the October 13, 1863 first Rehfuss' patent, formed more than one company probably the two companies I highlighted above in red and afterward reunited with the last and final company name in 1867.


In 1863 George Rehfuss received patent US 43.311 for a Button-Hole Sewing Machine working with two threads. He was the assignor to C. S. Patterson, E. Pincus, A. Hart, Marmaduke Moore, Allen Mitchell and Henry H. Reed.

In 1864 E. Pincus was selling the American Button-Hole, Cording, Braiding and Embroidering Machine probably of the homonymous company.

In Refuss and E. A.  Goodes & E. L. Miller's US patents you can spot that in few occasion the witness of those patents are the same people so this suggest there was a connection between those companies.

In 1864 patent US 43.742 was assigned to the American Button-Hole Sewing Machine Co., probably because a company or a new company was formed.

J. L. Fenimore as President. Others company's Directors were:

Pincus & Dessau, agents as well, selling the company 's early machines at 629 Broadway, New York.

A. Hart, John T. Taitt, George J. Richardson, W. B. Mendenhall, of Coatesville, Chester County, Pennsylvania.

Henry H. Reed, of George W. Reed & Co., Wholesale Clothing, 423 Market St. Bedford, Pennsylvania

William P. Jenks, President of Buck Mountain Coal Company.

Benjamin Bullock, Wool Merchant, 40 South Front Street, (?).

F. Paxon (*) of F. Paxon & Co., Notions, 504 Market Street, (?).  


In October 1, 1867 at 12 o'clock noon, at the Philadelphia Exchange, 250 Shares of the American Button-Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Co. went for sale. The company was finally formed probably just after the Paris Exhibition because it was the American Button-Hole Machine Company to receive a Silver Medal.

In 1868  Frederick Paxson (*) was the next company President.

(*) Same person?

The company Manager was W. B. Mendenhall (also the Treasurer) who became President with the exception of one year since 1872 (**) until at least 1895. He was a native of Pennsylvania, residing in Philadelphia.

(**) In The Evening Telegraph dated May 1871, from a Legal Notice it is acknowledged  that  W.B. Mendenhall was President of the company in 1871. It is also understood that the American Button-Hole Machine Company and the American Button-Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Co. are the same company. 

The earliest patent I have found assigned to the new company was issued in 1868, though others patents were issued prior that date.




The American Button-Hole Machine Company received a Silver Medal at the 1867 Paris Exposition. At the exhibition there were eighty-two Sewing Machines in competition.


Sewing Machines at the Paris Exhibition

There seems to be considerable contradiction among the successful exhibitors as to the rewards made in this department. The recipients of the two gold medals severally advertise that theirs is the only gold medal, thus contradicting each other, while all the other prize-holders concur that not gold medal was awarded to any sewing-machine whatever. Happily, it is not our duty to decide this knotty question; but, be it as it may, the Grover & Baker Sewing Machines have received the very highest prize-above all medals, their representative in Paris having been decorated by the Emperor with the Cross of the Legion of Honor.

We find the above in one of our English exchanges and transfer it to our columns with satisfaction. It is gratifying to find that the Grover & Baker machine, which stands so high at home, should also receive the highest honor abroad. When it is remembered that one thousand Gold Medals were awarded at the Exposition and only one hundred and fifty decorations, it will be seen that the Cross of the Legion of Honor was considered by the judges as a much higher award of merit than the Gold Medal. No other Sewing Machine at the Exposition received this distinction, showing that, in the opinion of His Imperial Majesty and the Judges, no other was equally deserving. This award places the Grover & Baker machine first in order on the official catalogue of the Exposition, as it is first In the estimation of the public on both sides of the Atlantic.

N.Y. Express









American Button-Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Company

Philadelphia, Pa.

This company exhibited several different machines, among them a combined sewing-and button-hole-stitching machine. It was adapted to be used as an ordinary sewing machine and, by a slight alteration, could be converted into a button-hole-stitching machine for family use. The needle-bar was reciprocated by a vibrating arm moved as usual. An eccentric near the forward end of the shaft operated the feeding device, it being a vertical bar serrated at top and moved in an elliptical path. Another eccentric through an arm vibrated a vertical arm pivoted at its lower and provided at its upper end with shuttle driving horns to drive a shuttle upon a curved race-way, also pivoted and adapted to be moved into or out of working position. The connection between the eccentric strap and shuttle-driving arm was disconnectable, to permit the shuttle-race and mover to be turned away when it was desired to work button-holes.

When the shuttle-race was in position the machine was set for plain sewing.

To prepare for button-hole work it was necessary to turn the race and shuttle-driver down and engage the end of a vibrating looper-lever with a cam to operate it. This looper provided with a thread was adapted to be moved to pass its thread up through the button-hole slit. A sleeve like loop-taker surrounding the needle-bar and provided at its lower end with a notch, was then lowered into operative position, so that the loop-taker could seize the loop of looper thread, carry it back from the edge above the upper side of the cloth and hold it open for the passage of the eye-pointed perforating needle in its next descent. All the changes necessary to be made to fully describe the operation of changing from plain sewing to button-hole stitching and vice versa, need not necessarily be described here. The button-hole devices work best upon heavy or woolen fabrics. Button-holes in linen and white cotton goods can be best worked by hand.

This company showed a machine with the button-hole features removed and designed to make only the lock-stitch.

It also exhibited a machine containing the button-hole features and designed specially to sew carpets with an overedge-stitch. In such machine the carpet was stretched upon a long table and the machine and the operator's seat were made to travel along the table, the machine uniting the edges of the carpet. This machine was the only one of its kind on exhibition in the American department. It is effective for the purpose intended and operated well. A finger extending between the two edges of the carpet to be sewed pushed back the pile loops. The finger was not used when sewing ingrain carpets.

They also exhibited a novel and special machine to bind and cord the edges of woolen and other blankets to be dyed, wherein it was desired to protect the edges of the blanket so that they could not be dyed, but would remain white. This machine used a single thread. A tubular guide delivered a small rope within the turned-over or rolled edge of the blanket, turned or rolled by means of a scroll. A strip of heavy cotton binding was automatically applied over the turned blanket edge and rope and was sewed down about the blanket edge and rope by a single thread extended about all, as at the edge of a button-hole or in overseaming. No other company showed a machine for this purpose.

1876 International Exhibition  Reports and Awards





American Button-Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Company

Philadelphia, Pa.

373. Sewing machines with self-threading shuttles, for button-hole, over-seaming and plain work. Machinery, 1. Class 58.



Grand Prize. Messrs. Wheeler and Wilson, London.

Silver Medal. Bradbury & Co., Oldham; Smith, Starley & Co., London; Wilson, Newton & Co., London.

Bronze Medals. Raymond Sewing Machine Co., London; Wardwell Manufacturing Company, United States.

Honourable Mention. William Bown, Birmingham.  






In presenting the New American Sewing Machine to the world the world the American Company have to the people a very handsome, artistic and scientific machine, the result of many years of observant experience, abundant facilities for manufacture and a thorough knowledge of what the people need. It is adapted to a very wide range of work, lightly but very durably made, handsomely ornamented and with a number of features of improvement that must infallibly make it a popular and readily selling machine. It has great capacity under the arm and is strikingly simple in its mechanical parts. One of its points of merit is an ingenious arrangement to regulate the length of the stitch so as to change while operating and return to the original number of stitches per inch; the advantage of this arrangement will be readily appreciated by sewing machine people. It has a very even, self-adjusting and graduated tension. It is entirely self-threading at all points. Its perfect, almost self adjusting and graduated tension is under easy control of the operator and always positive in its working. It is entirely self-threading at all points including the shuttle. The needle is self-setting and requires no mark or screw-driver and the attachments are quickly and easily placed and fastened. The shuttle has an easy oscillating motion, causing it to keep its proper place against the race. The shuttle which is made of cast-steel and hardened in all its parts, is perfectly self-threading. The bobbin holds a large amount of thread and by means of the loose balance wheel can be wound without running the machine. The shuttle lever and feed lever are nicely balanced, both working on a central pivot. The press-bar has a long, hardened steel guide giving perfect steadiness to the presser-foot. The pressure can very readily be adjusted to suit different fabrics. The feed is strong and positive in its motion; requiring no spring, it has a double motion and is novel in its construction. The stitch-regulating arrangement is unique and like the feed is pecular to the American machine. The dial plate always indicates the number of stitches in an inch space; the crank and plunger may be set on and the stitch can be regulated while the machine is in motion. The height of feed can be regulated at pleasure by means of an eccentric.

Sewing Machine Gazette (February 1882)



The following list of awards to the different sewing machine companies at the International Cotton Exposition is from the Sewing Machine Journal.

"American" Sewing Machine Company, of Philadelphia, P. A.

This exhibit is worthy of special praise for artistic arrangement, beauty of specimens of needlework shown, the adaptability of American sewing machines to all kinds of work, their simplicity of construction, chaste design and the small amount of power required to operate them.  

Sewing Machine Gazette (February 1882)


To the Editor of the Journal of Domestic Appliances and Sewing Machine Gazette

Dear Sir, will you kindly inform me through your Journal of Domestic Appliances for March, if possible, the address of the manufacturer of a machine to work button-holes in ladies' dresses, &c.; also if there is a machine to do gathering only, for dressmakers and the manufacturer's address.

And oblige, yours truly, Thomas Winwood


The Wheeler & Wilson Company have an excellent button-hole attachment.

The Singer Manufacturing Company make a buttonhole machine.

American button-hole machine (of which Messrs. Pearson & Co., 9, Acorn Street, E.C., are agents) makes a beautiful stitch.

For a "gathering" machine address the Heberling Machine Company, 46, Cannon Street, E.C.

Sewing Machine Gazette (March 1882)




So there was a Foundry!




First International Shoe and Leather Fair

I. L. Berridge & Co.  (8, Gallowtree Gate Leicester)

This well-known firm exhibited the "Reece" and the "American" button-hole machines. Mr. Fair, their London representative, was kept busy showing his ingenious "barring" machine, also the "Union" button sewing-on machine run by power.

The Sewing Machine Gazette 1894



Hexamer General Surveys, Volume 3, Plate 201
Hexamer General Surveys, Volume 3, Plate 201





Below you have a list of American patents that I compiled by matching patent numbers to each date, readable on the company Trade-Marks as in the photos above. It is probable that some patents are wrong, not all patents have been assigned to the company. Those patents were granted to different assignors and assignees or under licence from other  sewing machine companies, a common practice during the "Combination" or "Sewing Machine Trust" time.

Apart the 1850's patent of Allen B. Wilson, the first patent appear on the trade-marks, was assigned to Goodes and Miller in July 26, 1859.




US 7.776              Allen  B.  Wilson             November 12, 1850

US 24.863           E. A. Goodes & E. L. Miller         July 26, 1859

US 40.311            George  Rehfuss                October 13, 1863

USRE 1.616      E. A. Goodes  &  E. L. Miller    February 9, 1864

US 43.742             George  Rehfuss                    August 2, 1864

US 47.905             George  Rehfuss                       May 23, 1865

US 51.086             George  Rehfuss             November 21, 1865

US 52.932             George  Rehfuss              February 27, 1866

      US 61.103             George  Rehfuss                  January 8, 1867 (*)

(*) for this date we have 3 patents. The two first are assigned to American Button-Hole, Cording, Braiding and Machine Company; the last patent to the American Button-Hole Sewing Machine Company.


US 61.101       US 61.102       US 61.103




US 7.776              Allen  B.  Wilson             November 12, 1850

US 51.086            George  Rehfuss             November 21, 1865

US 52.932            George  Rehfuss               February 27, 1866

US 73.119            George  Rehfuss                   January 7, 1868



US 7.776              Allen  B.  Wilson             November 12, 1850

US 40.311             George  Rehfuss                October 13, 1863

USRE 1.616      E. A. Goodes  &  E. L. Miller    February 9, 1864

US 43.742             George  Rehfuss                    August 2, 1864

US 47.905             George  Rehfuss                       May 23, 1865

US 51.086             George  Rehfuss             November 21, 1865

US 52.932             George  Rehfuss              February 27, 1866

      .................             George  Rehfuss                  January 8, 1867 (*)

US 73.119             George  Rehfuss                  January 7, 1868

US 80.090             George  Rehfuss                      July 21, 1868

US 91.484             George  Rehfuss                     June 15, 1869

US 102.710           George  Rehfuss                         May 3, 1870

US 114.197           George  Rehfuss                      April 25, 1871

US 121.896           George  Rehfuss             December 12, 1871

US 133.487           George  Rehfuss             November 26, 1872

US D 6.375             George  Rehfuss                January 28, 1873

US RE 5.260            George  Rehfuss                January 28, 1873

US 137.028             George  Rehfuss                   March 18, 1873

US 139.421             George  Rehfuss                      May 27, 1873


(*) for this date we have 3 patents. The two first are assigned to American Button-Hole, Cording, Braiding and Machine Company; the last patent to the American Button-Hole Sewing Machine Company.

US 61.101       US 61.102       US 61.103




US 133.487               George  Rehfuss                  November 26, 1872

US 139.421               George  Rehfuss                            May 27, 1873

US 226.113               George S. Rominger                   March 30, 1880

US 237.703               George S. Rominger               February 15, 1881

US 237.704               George S. Rominger               February 15, 1881

               This patent may have been read incorrectly              May 21, 1881

US 242.372               George S. Rominger                       May 31, 1881

US 251.294               George S. Rominger             December 20, 1881

April 18, 1882

US RE 10.103             George  Rehfuss                              May 2, 1882



George Rehfuss was the assignor to the American Button Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Company from 1864 to 1878.


George S. Rominger was the assignor to the American Button Hole, Overseaming & Sewing Machine Company from 1880 to 1884.




American B. H. O. & S. M. Company

 1869  1870  1871   1872  1873   1874  1875  1876
 7.792  14.573  20.121  18.930  14.182  13.529  14.406  17.937









52.763 American No. 1






84.767 American No. 1






132.341 American No. 1