The Empire Sewing Machine Company made this model from about 1860. In 1870 the United States Remington Small Arms Company took over the company but continued to make this model until 1873. The shape of the base is the same as that of the first typewriter made by Remington. After the American Civil War (1861-1865) fewer guns were required. Manufacture of small arms and sewing machines employed many similar production techniques and machine tools and so sewing machine manufacture was a natural industrial development for many companies like Remington.


Science Museum/Science & Society Picture Library







Remington Sewing-Machine Company, Ilion, New York

Passing through the English department to the Machinery-Hall there could be found, running by steam, side by side with the American machines already mentioned, one called the Remington Empire, a machine recently brought out by the celebrated gun-manufacturers of Ilion, New York and, notwithstanding its late’arrival at the Exhibition, it received its full share of notice. It is simple and has the appearance of durability and will be well made, as this company has a high reputation to maintain. Much of the original "Empire" has been taken out of it and details embodying improved principles have been substituted. This work will go on until perfection is reached, as the Remingtons do not turn back and the public will not fail to be benefited by their experience.

Did time permit, volumes could be written upon this subject, relating as it does to one of the largest manufacturing interests in the country, but it would be largely a reproduction of former reports. It is therefore enough to notice in a general way all the exhibitors in the group with which this report has to do, calling attention especially to the comparatively few new improvements exhibited. The manufacture of sewing machines seems to have quite early fallen into good and competent hands and so thoroughly well was their work done that the past decade has been devoted not so much to new improvements as to increased production of already well-nigh perfect machines. As a result, there are but few important or valuable changes to note. In the sewing machine attachment department, however, there is quite a different state of affairs and to notice all the new departures made therein would be next to impossible.

From extended researches while in Europe, the writer found nothing tending to discourage American sewing machine manufacturers, unless it was the fact that large numbers of very poor copies of their machines were being thrown on the market at greatly reduced prices, which may make competition a little sharper for the time, requiring more exertion on the part of our makers to find a ready market for the hundreds of thousands of machines exported annually. The public, however, are learning to discriminate in favor of the genuine American machine, when offered beside a poorly made imitation and while several of our oldest companies are now firmly established as manufacturers in Great Britain or on the Continent, those which are compelled to remain behind have only to maintain their high reputation for perfection of mechanical skill, as shown in the superiority of their machines, to hold not only what they have already gained, but to largely extend this industry. In this report, the writer has tried to be impartial, believing with the jury, as the nature of their awards attests, that all are entitled to credit and encouragement and that no one machine possesses sufficient merit over and above all others to warrant a special award.




Among the thousands of curious machines seen by the visitors to Machinery Hall, one of the most novel is the Remington button hole machine. Since the advent of the sewing machine, many attempts have been made to produce something that would make a button hole and usually such efforts have been directed toward an attachment for an ordinary sewing machine.

So far as known, such efforts (either as an attachment or a complete machine) have been attended with only partial success and until the production of the Remington machine no device for completely finishing a button hole has been a perfect success.

This machine is complete in itself, being about the size of an ordinary sewing machine, but is made upon entirely new principles. The invention seems to be based upon the idea of a single thread as used in handmade work, forming a loop stitch exactly as made by hand and which is concluded to be the only proper stitch for such work. A combined shuttle, bobbin and needle is attached to the needle bar, resting in a socket in the latter. A hole of the required size is first cut in the material to be worked, then the latter is pushed upon a cone-shaped piece and, by a movement of the operator's knee, is firmly clamped and when once in position, it is automatically revolved around the cone and does not require any manipulation to insure perfect work. The stitch is formed by a loop (taken from the needle after it has passed through the cloth) carried up and thrown over the shuttle and needle. When the cloth is taken from the machine, the button hole is found to be complete, the ends being strongly barred or stayed and no handwork of any kind whatever is required.

The speed of this wonderful machine is from 1.800 to 2.000 holes in 9 hours' work and judging by the rapidity and ease with which the work is handled, both by the machine and the operator, this large product seems easy of accomplishment. The range of work includes shirts, linen collars, knit goods, underwear and many other classes of goods. The machine is simple in construction, durable and not liable to get out of order.

Scientific American 1876





The Remington Co. also exhibited an ingenious button hole machine, made under United States patents to S. Cleminshaw, US 110.739, US 128.363 and US 139.770.

This machine employed a single thread, contained in a shuttle held in a recess at the lower end of a vertically reciprocating bar, the shuttle having at its lower end an eye pointed perforating needle. The shuttle-thread was led through the eye of the needle. The needle penetrated the material just back of the edge of the button-hole slit, a loop was formed in its thread, the loop was drawn out and a thread-catcher drew this loop up through the button-hole slit and passed it over the upper end of the shuttle.

The block and needle were then lifted through this loop. In this way the shuttle was caused to pass through a loop made in its own thread. The piece of fabric provided with the slit for the button-hole was passed over a finger-like post, where it was confined by a pair of jaws while the edges were being stitched. This machine appeared to be adapted to work a very good button-hole in cotton goods or linen, a difficulty heretofore experienced in other button-hole machines.

The Remington Co. also exhibited a button-hole attachment adapted to be applied to the head of the machine and made under patents US 94.212, US 103.745 and US 146.000.

The attachment was composed of a looper, placed at an angle to the movement of the usual needle adapted to penetrate the fabric back from the edge to be worked. This looper had an eye at its lower end and passing through the button-hole slit in its descent, placed its eye below the cloth-support and fabric, in the path of movement of the descending needle, where it rested until the needle penetrated the fabric and entered the hole in the looper. The shuttle then passed through the loop of needle-thread and the needle was raised, drawing the shuttle thread up with it through the eye of the looper, when the looper was drawn up, bringing the shuttle-thread; when this loop of shuttle thread was drawn above the edge of the fabric, a finger engaged and carried it back over the edge, upon the upper side of the material, where it was entered by the needle in its next descent. The needle entered the hole in the looper at each descent.