When Isaac Merritt Singer designed the sewing machine for practical use in 1851, a real run on this machine began in highly industrialized Germany.

Over 200 German companies and merchants (who had their products produced by companies, for example) saw this product as a change to significantly increase their capital. The state of Saxony became Germany's stronghold in sewing machine production for 140 years.

Today there is no company in Germany that produces household sewing machines.

In the industrial sector, only "Dürkopp-Adler" remains, which is produced in small numbers in the Czech Republic and belongs to the Chinese.

The trademarks and model names, on the other hand, are sought after like never before. Not a well-known sewing machine label is still freely available today. This is why numerous, as in the early years of the sewing machine industry, new imaginary names are created. Because since the turn of the millennium, the business with household sewing machines in particular has been booming again.

The first American sewing machines came to Europe in the 1950s and were imitated immediately. Carl Beermann, founder of a mechanical engineering company in Berlin since 1849, F. Boecke in Berlin and Christian  Mansfeld in Leipzig, were among the first German manufacturers to diversify their activities relatively soon in other production areas.

A main buyers of Beermann's sewing machines was the Bielefeld linen factory. Carl Baer and Heinrich Koch, knowledgable of the Berlin Nähmaschinenfabrik Carl Beermann, where both had worked as mechanic. The company Beermann sewing machines was after the construction of Wheeler & Wilson.

In 1855 Clemens Müller was the first German manufacturer based in Dresden. He was followed by another 100 companies.

The American companies, therefore, had significant problems on the German market with the exception of the Singer of Georg Neidlinger in Hamburg.

In 1862-3, the American Singer Company, which had operated the installment business in the United States for a decade, appeared on the German market, opened branches, began to sell and thereby created competition for the German sewing machine industry that was difficult to compete with, at least not without the sell-off that has proven to be stronger in terms of sales ....

One of the other company was the Maschinenfabrik Bernhard Stoewer in Stettin. It began in 1862 with the manufacture of sewing machines after the Wheeler & Wilson system. In 1864 also adopted the system of Grover & Baker. In 1865, eleven workers and four apprentices employed. In 1872 the company was renamed as sewing machine factory and iron foundry Bernhard Stoewer, Stettin. The number of employees rose to 250 by large orders from Scandinavia (after Singer system as "Victoria"). In 1907, Stoewer manufactured 75.708 sewing machines; in 1920 1.500.000 manufactured. In 1929 only 30.000 sewing machines were manufactured and in 1931 had to be decided on the liquidation. Adolf Koch AG in Saalfeld took over the machines, devices and brands and distribution rights.

The first successful sewing machines manufacturer was Georg Michael Pfaff from Kaiserslautern. He was a brass instrument builder and started in 1862. From the repair of sewing machines the company went to built their own sewing machines initially to the system of Howe and Singer system later.

Since 1868, there are in Dresden, companies as Seidel & Naumann, Leopold Oskar Dietrich and Hermann Köhler

Gustav Winselmann founded in 1871 in Altenburg (Thuringia), a workshop for the construction of sewing machines, the Vesta Works.

Constructed in 1872 Max Carl Gritzner from Karlsruhe twice the circulating gripper without glasses. His machine was out of this gripper a bobbin case fan, a rotating take-up lever and a controlled tension. However, it fared Gritzner, how many inventors, his idea was popular until much later, when the Americans took over his invention.

Furthermore, the parallelism of the development of the sewing machine and the bicycle is striking, although both industrial products not initially have much in common. However, both operated at the same time to the same market and both needed in equal amounts precision-machined components such as bearings and threaded parts. For this reason, many merchants sell still both bicycles and sewing machines. The concentration of German machine manufacturer along with the bicycle industry to a few locations such as Bielefeld is also due to this cause. The same applies to the typewriter. Not infrequently all three products came from one company.


The structural crisis in the sewing machine industry

Over 200 companies in Germany dealt with the construction of sewing machines. Names such as Müeller, Naumann, Seidel, Opel, Koehler, Eagle and Phoenix are among them. The German sewing machine industry in the last century had to endure some crises. First there were the two world wars meant that almost all sewing machine factories had to change their production to war related things. The loss of total foreign trade was difficult to make up again after the wars. Around 1948 then rose known companies were not allowed to continue their traditional production of sewing machines around Messerschmitt, Zündapp and ELAC belonged to it. After a few years, the market has now been tight. In addition to that the cheap Far East imports first appeared in the wholesale business. The resulting price war led to mergers of German companies; APHA (= Anchor, Phoenix, Eagle) or even joint ventures with Japanese - Eagle Toyomenka and the like and then ended up in the seventies with the cessation of production in almost all German companies. Only Pfaff was initially spared, but was caught later as Singer and Elna. Pfaff sewing machines are now of Viking Husqvarna in Sweden (which were also the champions disappear manufacturer) built, the other major household sewing machine manufacturer still exists Bernina in Switzerland. Singer has also changed significantly. The actual Singer company has turned to years of space technology and issued a license to the sewing machine manufacturing company. Some other sewing machine manufacturers were able to keep their production because they ran through distributors under other labels. For example VERITAS (sewing machine factory Wittenberg) gave to the late 80s, including for the purchase and shipping houses Quelle and Neckermann under the trade mark "Ideal" and "Brilliant". The Italian car parts manufacturer Borletti delivered from his sewing machine division to the 70s for Neckermann under the label Brilliant. Borletti put his sewing machine production in the early 70s a. The Italian manufacturer Necchi delivers up today for Aldi Medion under the label. The VERITAS sewing machine factory in Wittenberg, built in 1903 by the American Singer Company NY, reached production figures of about 400.000 units per year in the 1980s. After the unification of Germany, the company was liquidated by the Treuhandanstalt (colloquially referred to as Treuhand, it was an agency established by the government of the German Democratic Republic to privatize East German enterprises, prior to the German reunification).

Development in industrial sales

At the same time as the merchandise credit house, the industrial payment business had spread. Here it was directly the American example that triggered the development.

In 1862-3, the American Singer Company (of Georg Neidlinger in Hamburg), which had operated the installment business in the United States for a decade, appeared on the German market, opened branches, began to sell and thereby created competition for the German sewing machine industry that was difficult to compete with, at least not without the sell-off that has proven to be stronger in terms of sales ....

.... Later, the better German sewing machine dealers, many of whom were former Singer company sellers, adopted the payment system itself. According to the annual report of the Chamber of Commerce in Bielefeld in 1886, more than half of all sewing machines in retail are sold for a down payment; after the Concordia Manufacturers' Association submitted it to the Parliament, the vast majority, according to other sources, more than two thirds of all sewing machines for annual production of about half a million pieces...

* In 1891, Lichtenthal says with a certain justification that the sewing machine is the founder of the payment business.

"Das Abzahlungsgeschäft in Handel und Industrie und seine Finanzierung"

(The retail and industrial repayment business and its financing)

By Waldemar Koch





Mr. Neidlinger! (Singer)

According to the test commission of the Dresden trade association, all German sewing machines were better than yours. The question you provoked for the best sewing machine would thus be solved, only the signed German factory companies belonging to the "Concordia", but employing 5.000 workers and producing close to 400.000 sewing machines annually, that is the largest part of the lambing German sewing machine industry are ready to offer you a new, open and honest competition for the third time in order to finally clarify the question, so you want to explain yourself within 14 days and because of the choice of an impartial forum with the president of the "Concordia". Again, we would have to take a beating out of the blue as a complete rejection. In particular, we reject your curiosity for the best German sewing machine as absolutely not a matter of fact.

Georg Neidlinger


01.  Frister & Rossmann, Berlin SO.

02.  Seidel & Naumann, Dresden.

03.  Deutsche Nähmaschinenfabrik formerly Jos. Wertheim, Frankfurt a. M.

04.  Junker & Ruh, Carlsruhe.

05.  Grimme, Natalis & Co., Braunschweig (Brunswick).

06.  G. M. PfaffKaiserslautern.

07.  Adolf Knoch, Saalfeld.

08.  C. G. Lehmann & Co., Berlin.

09.  H. Koch & Co., Bielefeld.

10.  Claes & Flentje, Mühlhausen, Thüringen.

11.  Bremer & Brückmann, Braunschweig (Brunswick).

12.  Baer & Rempel, Bielefeld.

13.  C. Meyer, Berlin SO.

14.  Adam Opel, Rüsselsheim.

15.  L.O. Dietrich, Altenburg.

16.  König & Co., Kaiserslautern.

17.  Lange & Lindner, Berlin.

18.  H. Mundlos & Co., Sudenburg, Magdeburg.

19.  Bernhard Stöwer, Stettin.

20.  C. Grunow, Berlin 0.

21.  Gebr. Jacob, Gera.

from: Revalsche Zeitung (1883)




01.  Anker-Werke formerly Hengstenberg & Co. Bielefeld.

02.  Baer & Rempel, Bielefeld.

03.  Biesolt & Locke, Meißen i S.

04.  E. Böttcher, Berlin.

05.  Claes & Flentje, Mühlhausen, Thüringen.

06.  L. 0. Dietrich, Altenburg SA.

07.  Frister & Rossmann, Berlin SO.

08.  James Gutmann, Berlin.

09.  Maschinenfabrik Gritzner, AG, Durlach.

10.  Adolf Knoch,  Saalfeld a. S..

11.  Richard Knoch, Saalfeld a. S..

12.  Köhler, Altenburg SA.

13.  C. G. Lehmann & Co., Berlin.

14.  Clemens Müller, G. m. b. H.. Dresden-N..

15.  H. Mundlos & Co., Magdeburg.

16.  Gehr. Nothmann,  G.m.b.H., Berlin.

17.  G. M. Pfaff, Kaiserslautern.

18.  Pfälzische Nähmaschinen-Fabrik  formerly Kayser, Kaiserslautern.

19.  Aktiengesellschaft formerly Seidel & Naumann, Dresden.

20.  Nähmaschinenfabrik formerly Stoewer, Stettin.

21.  Deutsche Nähmaschinenfabrik  form. Wertheim AG, Frankfurt a. M.