1881 The Reece Button Hole Sewing Machine Company

Portland, Maine


1889 The Reece Button Hole Machine Company

Boston, Massachusetts


???  The Reece Corporation

 Boston, Massachusetts ???


1991 AMF Reece

 Prostějov, Czech Republic


In 1871 a Canadian patent was granted to John Reece for improvement in sewing machine (CA 1.215).

In 1874 he developed the first Automatic Eyelet and Button Hole Machine, the largest bobbin in the world used in the shoe industry.

In 1881 the Reece button hole machine, patented on April 26, US 240.546, won acclaim and honors in many exhibitions, including the World Fair of 1893 in Chicago.

First production machine leased in 1883 (until the 1970’s Reece Company only leased machines and collected weekly rental plus payments for amount of buttonholes sewn).

In 1889 Reece button hole machine received the grand prize at 1889 Paris Exposition Universell.

In 1893 World Fair in Chicago.

In 1896 John Reece died. He lost his life when he was killed trying to save an employee in his factory, who was in danger of being crushed by a moving elevator. Reece lunged for the elevator rope, hoping to stop the elevator, but missed the cord, falling to his death.

High honours came to John Reece’s Model J machine, among them the medal, representing the Grand Prize for all inventions exhibited at the 1900 Paris World’s Fair.

1904   Reece Button-Hole case 61 Fed. Reporter 958 

In the case of Reece Buttonhole Mach. Co. v. The Globe Company, 61 Fed. 958, IO C. C. A. 194, Judge Putnam has with great clearness stated the doctrine of equivalents. The patent in the Reece Case was for a buttonhole sewing machine.

1908 high speed shoe machine. The same 2 thread overlock stitch system as the Reece J but 2-wheel drive principle greatly increased the machine’s productivity. Following the turn of the 20th century, more and more factories were established as the industry began to adapt mass production methods, thus making it possible for the growing population to buy quality clothing at low prices. Reece contributed to this progress through its development in 1908 at the "Hand-Hole Buttonhole Machine". This was the first automatic buttonhole machine designed exclusively for use in the production of tailored clothing. It became an immediate success because of its high production capacity and because the buttonholes closely resembled the work  of skilled hand sewers

Reece Hand-Hole a machine with loopers and spreaders to build the stitch.

The name for this stitch was "Reece Stitch" and is then standard prescribed for uniforms and clothing in many countries.

1910 Came an Reece automatic button sewing machine. This automatic hopper-fed machine attached on one shoe 18 buttons in 3 seconds !??


Rapid buttonhole machine of 1915. The introduction of this machine provided still greater production of standard buttonholes and specially shaped buttonholes for shoes, collars, cuffs and athletic uniforms. This machine works again with the two needle system of the Reece J.

In many respects the year around 1920 were tough years for Reece. Button shoes disappeared and detachable collars were on the way out. Some measure of this loss is recognized from an example that, 3 companies in Troye that leased 600 machines with a daily production of 5 million buttonholes were returned, the lease being cancelled.  


The Reece machinery Co. (France) S.A. and a branch at Melbourne, Australia and GB were opened looking for new markets.


In 1935 the Model  101 was produced, and use was made of strong but light alloys replacing steel in many parts of the machine.

In 1940 a new fast, single-thread straight- buttonhole machine was produced.  this new machine was named S1.

In 1945 the revised model, but now with greater speed was re-introduced as Model S2.

1952 Reece PB. Piped Buttonhole. "The Machine that couldn’t be built”. After years of development and extensive field tests, a Reece piped-buttonhole machine was introduced to the trade.

In additions to this being the first machine of his kind , it combined, hydraulic, electromagnetic and mechanical actions all under electric control.

In 1958 Reece produced the pocket-welt machine for making the jetted openings of pocket in suits. This was an extension of the PB but on larger scale and using an improved hydraulic and pneumatic system.

In the late 50s  extra machine factories were founded because of high demand. Two in America and one in the Netherlands. The factory in Leiden NL. was building Reece buttonhole machines from 1959 to 1994.

The present AMF Reece company was formed in 1991 by joining together of two of the industry’s oldest and most respected specialized sewing machine manufacturers.

AMF Sewn Products Inc. and The Reece Corporation. The merger brought together the resources and technical expertise of two companies that had been developing innovative and revolutionary products for the sewing industry since the late 1800’s.

In 1995 AMF Reece Inc. purchased the Minerva Company based in Prostejov the Czech Republic. The Minerva Company had also been designing and manufacturing a wide range of sewing machines, including eyelet buttonhole models. This acquisition was a strategic move by AMF Reece, giving the company additional manufacturing and engineering capacity.

AMF Reece CR, s.r.o. is a world-wide manufacturer of specialty industrial sewing machines such as mechanical and electronic eyelet buttonhole machines, chainstitch machines, decorative handstitching machines, button stitching and wrapping machines, autojig machines and trouser sewing units including pocket welting machines. The history of our company is lined with the development of the first automatic eyelet buttonhole machine in the world, with the patented floating needle technology to imitate the real hand stitching, with the development of the template stitching system and the world’s first automatic pocket welting machine. The AMF Reece Company has been associated with the biggest and most significant manufacturers of the sewing machines like AMF Sewn Products, Reece Corporation and Minerva. With the innovative approach, unique patents and confirmed experiences the AMF Reece Company has reached the leading role in the world market of the industrial sewing machines.

1871 Reece's Patent
1871 Reece's Patent


18 patents issued between 1846 and 1880 by inventors (Bachelder, Singer, Wilson, Grover & Baker, Gibbs) to produce a Buttonhole Machine. All of these quite impractical for use in production.

see:    Button-Hole Machines

1881, the world first automatic eyelet buttonhole machine invented by John Reece which won honor in many exhibitions including the World Fair in Chicago in 1983.


The left below Reece machine was exhibited at the Exposition Universelle of Paris in 1889. The right below machine was illustrated and described in the Scientific American.

1889 Paris Exposition Universell
1889 Paris Exposition Universell
1893 Scientific American
1893 Scientific American





CA 1.215                                   John  Reece

of Stanstead, Quebec, for improvement in Sewing Machines.

November 18, 1871


US 240.546                              John  Reece

Button Hole Machine

Assignor, by Mesne Assgnments, to

The Reece Button Hole Sewing Machine Company

April 26, 1881


US 2.158.200                      Franklin A.  Reece

Button Hole Machine

Original application January 24, 1936

May 16, 1939


US 2.357.131                       John P.  Putnam

Navigation Instrument

Assignor to The Reece Button Hole Machine Company, Boston, Mass., a corporation of Maine 

 August 29, 1944


US 2.477.941             F. A. Reece Jr. & W. E. Nichols

Button Hole Machine

 The Reece Corporation, Boston, Massachusetts

August 2, 1949


US 2.604.062                         Marion C. Rich

Button Hole Machine

Assignor to The Reece Corporation

July 22, 1952


US 2.969.755                       Franklin A.  Reece

Button Hole Machine

Assignor to The Reece Corporation

January 31, 1961