HOWE SEWING MACHINE COMPANY

by Amas Bemis Howe

New York

1854 - 1873

It is difficult for many to believe that the stamped legend “Elias Howe patent, September 10, 1846” does not certify that a machine is an original Howe. Although Elias Howe was granted a patent for the lockstitch machine in 1846, he did not establish a sewing machine factory for about twenty years. Early in the 1850s and later through the “Combination,” however, he licensed others to make machines using his patent. These machines bore that patent date for which a royalty was being paid.

Among his early licensees was his elder brother Amasa who organized the Howe Sewing Machine Co. in 1854. initially production was on a very modest scale, 60 machines in 1854 and 53 machines in 1855.

The Amasa Howe machines were good well made sewing machines and after 1860 production increased. The Howe S.M.Co. expanded into Europe with agents in London and Paris.

From 1860 the London agent was Luke McKernan who sold "Howe's sewing machines" at 142 High Holborn and later at 98 Cheapside.

In June 1861 the Howe S.M.Co. opened its own depot nearby at 8 Ludgate St., St. Paul's with Nahum Salamon as manager.

A.B.Howe took out patents in England (patent number 1987 of 9th August 1861 and number 2086 of 21st August 1861) for improvements to his classic "Howe" machine.

McKernan was clearly upset by the loss of trade and in December 1861 the Howe S.M.Co took McKernan to the High Court for an injunction to restrain him.

The Amasa Howe machines were very good ones and won the prize medal at the "1862 London International Exhibition". This immensely increased the popularity of the machines and Elias offered to join Amasa by building a large factory at Bridgeport, Connecticut, to fill the increasing demand for more machines. The machines produced at Bridgeport, however, although imitating the Amasa Howe machines, proved inferior in quality. Amasa found that, rather than helping his business reputation, his brother’s efforts were hurting him and he severed business relations with Elias.

Because of their brief association, the 1862 prize medal awarded to A. B. Howe was sometimes credited to Elias. The latter did receive awards for his patent, but never for his manufactured machines.

When the two brothers dissolved their joint venture, Elias attempted to call his new company the Howe Sewing Machine Co., but Amasa’s claim that this name had been his exclusive property for many years was upheld by the courts. Elias then omitted the word “Sewing” and called his company simply the Howe Machine Co..

In 1863 Nahum Salamon, their manager in London, wrote a history of the sewing machine including a biography of Elias Howe, to promote sales of the "Genuine Howe Machines" made by the Howe S.M.Co.

In about 1873, B. P. Howe, Amasa’s son, sold the Howe Sewing Machine Co. to the Stockwell brothers and the production of "Genuine Howe Machines" stopped. It is thought that about 100.000 machines in total were produced.

The Howe Machine Co. continued to manufacture Howe machines until 1886.

 

DATING AMASA HOWE SEWING MACHINE COMPANY

The machines of the A. B. Howe Sewing Machine Co. may be dated by serial number approximately as follows:

Serial Number Year

                                       0 ...................................

                           +        60                             1854

                                     60 ...................................

                           +        53                              1855

                                   113 ...................................

                           +       47                               1856

                                   166 ....................................

                           +      133                               1857

                                   299 ....................................

                            +     179                               1858

                                   478 ....................................

                            +     921                               1859

                                1.399 .....................................

                                                                        1860

                                         .....................................                     

                                                                         1861

                                          .....................................

                                                                         1862

                                          .....................................

A Howe plate carries                                           1863

the s/n 24.545 with             .....................................

patent US 37.913                                              1864

                                           .....................................

                                                                          1865

                                           .....................................

                                                                          1866

                                           .....................................

                                                                          1867

                                            .....................................

                                                                           1868

                                             .....................................

                                                                           1869

                                             .....................................

                                                                            1870

                                             .....................................

                             +   20.051                                1871

                                             .....................................

                              +  14.907                                1872

                                             .....................................

                              +  13.919                                1873

                                              .....................................

 

It is thought that about 100.000 machines in total were produced.

In about 1873, B. P. Howe, Amasa’s son, sold the Howe Sewing Machine Co. to the Stockwell brothers,

No figures are available for 1860 - 1870, but 20.051 machines were manufactured in 1871. B.P. Howe (Amasa's son) sold 14.907 machine for the year 1872 and 13.919 machines in 1873.

Shuttle cover # 24.545
Shuttle cover # 24.545

 

US PATENTS

 

 

US 6.437       Jotham S. Conant          May 8, 1849

 

US 7.776    Allen B. Wilson     November 121850    

US 9.053         Grover & Baker         June 221852

 

US 12.116   Allen B. Wilson     December 191854

 

US 37.913     Amas Bemis Howe    March 171863

 

AMASA BRITISH PATENTS

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GB 1.987                          Alfred  Vincent  Newton

of the Office for Patents, 66, Chancery Lane, in the county of Middlesex, Mechanical Draughtsman, for an invention of  Improved machine for sewing. A communication to him from abroad by Amasa Howe, of New York, in the United States of America.

August 9, 1861

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GB 1.922                       William  Edward Newton

of the Office for Patents, 56, Chancery Lane, in the county of Middlesex, Civil Engineer, for an invention of Improved machinery for cleaning rice, coffee and other grains or seeds. A communication to him from abroad by Amasa Howe, of New York, in the United States of America.

August 2, 1861

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GB 2.086                              Nahum  Salamon

of 8, Ludgate Street, in the cit of Landon, Machine Factor, for the invention of Attachments or apparatus for sewing machines. A communication to him from abroad by Amasa B. Howe, of New York.

August 21, 1861

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GB 1874 /1866                    Nahum  Salamon

of Ludgate Hill, in the City of London, Agent, for an invention for an improvement in sewing machinery. A communication to him from abroad by Amasa Bemis Howe, of the City of New York, United States of America.

Letters Patent sealed.                 July 18, 1866

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Sources:

www.gutenberg.org

ismacs.net

 

 

 

 

As reproduction of  Historical artifacts, this works may contain errors of spelling and/or missing words and/or missing pages, poor pictures, etc.

 

 

 

 

 

Howe's wheel-feed patent of 1861