Sewing Machines

awarded at the Exhibition





Report on the Machines and Apparatus used in Sewing and Clothing

By Frederick A. Paget, Esq., C.E., Judge and Secretary, Group XXII, Philadelphia; Juror Group VII, Delegate to Group I and Off. Reporter, Vienna; Mem. Soc. Civil Engineers of France; Corr. Mem. Soc. German Engineers and of the Franklin Institute of Philadelphia; Mem. late Government Commission on Chain-cable and Anchor Proving Establishments, &c.

1, Seymour Chambers, Adelphi, September 1876.


in accordance with the wish of the Commissioners that a short report on the broad features of his particular section be prepared by each judge, the following general account is submitted. In the absence of drawings, which could not be included within such limits, it is necessarily incomplete, as the very best and most precise descriptions of machinery are extremely imperfect without delineation, the true, perhaps the sole, language of technology. It is doubtful whether the most precise description is not surpassed in distinctness by the simplest sketch and even the most skilled expert may be puzzled by a verbal description, however precise.

The exhibits examined by the following gentlemen, namely,

Colleagues in Edward H. Knight, A.M., late of the Patent Office, Washington, President;

Frederick A. Paget, C.E., Secretary, Great Britain;

George W. Gregory, Boston, Mass., U.S.;

L. D. F. Poore, Springfield, Dakota, U.S.

The Judges of Group XXII, were to take under consideration Class 531, including machines used in the manufacture of tapestry, lace, floor-cloth, fancy embroidery, &c; Class 531, sewing and knitting machines, clothes cutting and folding machines, as also ordinary needles and thimbles; Class 534, or machines for ironing for tailors' use and Classes 535-6-7, machines for making clocks and watches, jewellery, pins and needles and for sticking pins upon paper. Practically, this resolved itself into a consideration by the Group of sewing and knitting and embroidering machines, clothes cutting, folding and making machinery, ironing machines for tailors' use and machinery for making watches, jewellery, needles and for sticking pins on paper.

Each given machine was examined with respect to the:

1. Quality and quantity of work done, as evidenced by special de visu trials;

2. Simplicity or parts and motions;

3. Adaptability to different class of work;

4. Quality of workmanship and materials;

For each of these qualifications an equal number of points was given. Then came:

5. Originality, as evidenced by the history of the development of the given machine.

In this point more especially we were fortunate in the aid of Mr. G. W. Gregory, a member of the Group, for a number of years one of the chief examiners of this class of machinery at the Patent Office in Washington and now of Boston, Massachusetts. The careful examination required by the United States law before granting the strictly defined claims of every patent had rendered this gentleman facile princeps as to the history and strict apportionment of originality of every detail of the machines. Then :

6. Public estimation, as evidenced by the number of given machines sold;

7. Symmetry, as evidenced by external shape and lastly :

8. Completeness of general display, the distance from Philadelphia being taken into account.

Practically this last point meant a certain favourable allowance being made in the case of foreign exhibitors, who bad necessarily sent their exhibits several thousand miles and whose interests were in most cases less fully represented than was the case with native makers. According to the system adopted for the first time in its entirety at this exhibition, each award was to be accompanied by a short report, given the reason for granting the prize. If these could have been shown either by stating the exact figures of merit, or even citing by name and “grading” in this way, as they say in America, at the same time pointing out the unsuccessful  machines, results  most instructive to the public would have been arrived at. On the other hand, such figures would have been most displeasing and injurious to the unsuccessful competitors and we were expressly requested by the Executive Commission to ignore the ruck in the race. But it is perhaps not too much to say that, if such an ideal could be carried out, if a competent and in every way satisfactory board of judges could give sufficient time to so great a work, a point of departure, an era in the arts, would be arrived at. One further important qualification would be the relative price of each machine. But, in America especially, the actual prices are so masked, as it were, by the existence of certain patents, the prices are so much controlled by this cause that, especially with the sewing machines, the qualifications of relative cheapness could not fairly be taken into consideration. The point, however, the most carefully considered in apportioning the awards, was the quality and quantity of work done, the quality more especially and in no instance, except in some of the foreign exhibits, where, in the absence of the exhibitors, the machines could not be tested, was any award given to a machine that had not been carefully tried. We believe that in but few, if any, instances were machines specially made for exhibition. No doubt to many was given an extra outside finish; but this did not affect the actual working and if makers lacked the knowledge necessary to properly time the motions of their machines intended for sale, they also lacked it in building their exhibition machines, as, indeed, our trials in many cases soon found out. At least one of the machines, however, for which special claims were advanced for easy running, obtained this easy running by the simple process of speeding down the gear, as clearly resulted from our measurements of the band wheels. The Philadelphia Exhibition formed perhaps the only occasion on which such a long series of this class of machines was submitted to careful practical trials. This, where it can be carried out, affords the only sound basis for a distribution of awards; in the face of the very eager competition between the different makers, of the sewing machines more especially, it gave the only means of balancing their relative merits and of discriminating pretenders whose machines might find a more or less extensive sale, but could scarcely stand the microscopic examination of experts. By these trials we have attempted, in combination with the reports given with each medal, to encourage machines really useful to the public and to set up finger posts of some use to non-mechanical purchasers. On the other hand, it was clearly impossible for us to consider for awards mere copies of American or other models, however well made and working however well; in spite of the fact that such makers avowedly sent them to America for competition. As one instance of an unreasonable expectation, we may mention that one foreign exhibitor actually sent three different machines, by different American makers, which he had merely repaired and for the mere repairing of which he expected an award. Of course sewing machines took the first rank in number, commercial importance and, as natural consequences, in the consummate ingenuity and enterprise of their makers. As naturally, too, the United States took in this department the first rank. The yearly production of sewing machines in the States of the Union alone is at least 500.000; it is probably more and is annually increasing. During the last 25 years, one single firm has made and sold the almost incredible number of 2.000.000. America was notoriously pre-eminent in sewing machines at both the World's shows of 1867 in Paris and 1873 in Vienna, most exhibits in this class being either of American manufacture or design. At Vienna, the United States in fact made in everything else but sewing machines a comparatively poor show. On her own ground, therefore, much was to be expected and, accordingly, the exhibition of sewing machines at Philadelphia surpassed in quantity and quality, whether in variety or novelty of design, anything of the kind the world has yet seen. The occasion was also seized by many of the leading and other manufacturers of making this exhibition a point of departure, so to say, for quite new and improved forms of their machinery. The competition amongst the American manufacturers is so great, the American public, technical or otherwise, are such good judges of labour-saving machinery, that only by the most strenuous exertions can the competitors keep up in a race wherein to lag behind is ruin. All the great makers keep one, often two highly skilled and trained machinists, at very high salaries, constantly and solely employed in experimenting on new devices intended to keep the given machine ahead of all others. Many of these improvements are only brought before the public after years of careful experimenting. Some of the inventors employed by the great manufacturers to give their sole energies to improving their machines are paid at the rate of $10.000 and more per annum and a machine was pointed out to us, an improved modification of an instrument of world-wide fame, that was said to have cost $250.000 to bring it up to its present pitch of perfection. It is expected that, in the course of the next year, 1877, the prices of American sewing machines will fall very considerably. This is the machines, date of the expiration of the Bachelder patent, which has actually been prolonged by the Congress of the United States for two terms, in all 28 years. This patent, merely for the substitution of a continuous spiked band for a plate of unlimited length, still forms the bond of union in the combination between certain of the great American makers and with the expiration of this patent, this contract will also expire. Whether, however, the prices will really be very much reduced is perhaps a question. The expenses of a sewing machine maker do not, as in the case of all- other machinery, cease with the sale of the article. He must give full and often lengthy instructions to the buyer, in order that the working of the machine be thoroughly mastered and this involves heavy cost, whether in the form of agents' commissions, or the salaries of skilled operators.

The sewing machine trade is also very largely based upon long credits to people unable to pay on delivery. There is then another fact to be considered. The leading firms, such as Messrs. Singer, Messrs. Wheeler & Wilson, Wilcox & Gibbs and Weed, make the details of their machines on the interchangeable or duplicate system, by means of special self-acting workshop tools, in the same way as all small arms are manufactured. The machines can thereby be put together with a minimum expenditure of time and money and the interchangeable parts be at once cheaply replaced when worn or otherwise damaged. The work in the foundry is thus done by moulding machines and the castings cleaned by machinery; the wrought-iron parts are " drop-forgings", blanks being wrought into shape, often at one blow, in dies and matrices; while milling-machines, similar to those used in the manufacture of small-arms, are employed to finish the details. The results of this system are, especially as regards renewal, of very great value to the buyer and the sources of great savings to the maker; but the system also means the locking up a very heavy capital in machinery and plant. What, therefore, with the necessity for making interchangeable work, with the very heavy attendant cost in plant and the peculiar mode of sale adopted, the times are long past when the manufacture of sewing machines could be undertaken on a small scale. Hence the element of competition will always be greatly lacking in the manufacture of sewing machines unless some revolutionary invention be manufactured by an outsider and the manufacture year by year shows a greater tendency to be confined to a few great firms.

The following table gives the tests we adopted for the family machines :

No. 1. Seam on two thicknesses of fine white cambric, with No. 300 cotton.

No. 2. Seam on two thicknesses of fine white tarleton, with No. 300 cotton.

No. 3. Seam on two thicknesses of fine white linen, with No. 150 cotton.

No. 4. Seam on two thicknesses of common muslin, with No. 70 cotton.

No. 5. Seam on two thicknesses of coloured duck, with No. 24 cotton.

No. 6 Seam on 8 and then 16 thicknesses, of coloured duck, with No. 24 cotton.

No. 7. Seam on two thicknesses heavy beaver cloth, with No. 80 three cord black linen.

No. 8. Seam on six thicknesses heavy beaver cloth, with No. 35 three cord black linen.

No. 9. Sample of seam on two thicknesses fine black cloth, with No. 000 black machine silk.

No.10. Sample of seam on two thicknesses, prunella, with No. 0 black machine silk.

No. 11. Sample of seam on black lasting, with No. 0 black silk.

No. 12. With the lasting and prunella, with No. 0 black machine silk.

The tests for manufacturing machines for cloth work were:

No. 1. Sample of stitching on two thicknesses cloth, with 000 machine twist.

No. 2. Sample of stitching on ten and twenty thicknesses of cloth, with No. 35 three cord linen thread.

For manufacturing machines for stitching red and morocco leather of one and three thicknesses:

No. 1. Sample of ornamental stitching on patent leather and calf skin, with No. 000 White Twist.

No. 2. Sample of seaming on two thicknesses calf skin, C. twist.

No. 3. Sample of closing, D twist with black thread.

It will be observed that these tests range from very delicate to work very heavy indeed. That a few, very few, it is true, were able to pass the ordeal successfully is a proof that, in spite of the complaints of unsuccessful competitors, they were not unduly severe; and it could fairly be assumed that any machine whatever putting itself forward for competition could sew perfectly well with ordinary threads and fabrics. Speed of working, as measured by a counter, was also tested and taken into account. Indeed, if all the machines exhibited had been connected with steam power and tried under ordinary work at the highest possible speeds, this in itself would have formed an excellent test of the timing together of the different parts and of the working of each machine. Bias work was not done in order to prove the elasticity of the stitch, nor was any dynamometer applied to the machines.

Some, however, such as the new No. 8 machine of Messrs. Wheeler & Wilson and the new Weed machines, were tested as to easy working, by actually driving them with a loop of No. 70 cotton, which replaced the usual leather band.

As might fairly be expected, the family machine of the Singer Manufacturing Company worked well. This is well known as a shuttle sewing machine embodying a needle bar operated directly from the end of a rotating shaft in the overhanging arm, a shuttle supported in a shuttle carrier moved transversely to the feed by means of a crank on a rotating shaft, a four-motioned positive feed, and a straight needle with its eye parallel with the direction of the feed. All the motions of this machine are what is termed in America, "positive" that is to say, they are directly affected by mechanical parts and are not dependent for their action upon springs. It accordingly obtained an award with a full report. But few and those only slight, changes have been made of late by this firm in the construction of their machinery. But their exhibits, contained within a separate handsome building, were noteworthy for very great variety. This company showed a machine for shoe work, a special machine for cloth, a large shuttle machine for stitching harness, saddles, and carriage trimming; a similar one for stitching bag handles and another for sewing material that cannot be rolled to pass under the arm of the machine; a wax-thread machine for coarse boots, brogues, harness and all work requiring a waxed thread, a medium machine with two needles for sewing two parallel seams at same time, a small shuttle machine with automatic binder for soft hats, another with binder for cap fronts, another small shuttle machine for stitching bugle fronts, and yet another with automatic rim-gauge. The sewing machine attachments exhibited by the Singer Company consisted in a band attachment, an adjustable binder, a shoe binder, a corder, a tuck worker, with self-adjusting notch and point, an embroiderer, a trimmer, a ruffler, a quilter with double adjusting guides, an upper and under braider in combination, an automatic hemmer and trimmer combined and a trimming knife for shoe-work. This is the firm which has already sold two million machines and not less than 6.500 agents, merely for effecting sales in all parts of the world, are in their employ. It is also an evidence of the approval Singer machine of the public that at least six different makers from England, Germany, Belgium, Sweden, sent direct copies of, apparently for competition with, the parent machine. And yet this enormous enterprise is said to have been originally started on a capital of forty dollars.

Of all the machines we tested, the Wheeler & Wilson new machine was the most completely successful, failing in nothing that was given to it. The beauty of its stitch, especially on leather, was unsurpassed and it obtained a second award "for superior quality of work in leather stitching". The new Wheeler & Wilson machine may be defined as one making a lock-stitch and employing a straight needle moved by a vibrating arm and grooved cam; also a disc bobbin and a rotating hook, the latter having a varying speed of rotation by means of a divided shaft with connecting disc. The original features in the old Wheeler and Wilson machine were the rotary hook and bobbin, forming practically a revolving, in contradistinction to the reciprocating, shuttle and the four-motion feed. The defective curved needle, inherently weak and wrong in principle, formerly used, has now been superseded by a straight needle; while the varying speed of rotation of the rotary hook and bobbin brings the machine as close to perfection in timing the parts to their work as is perhaps possible.

In their own words, the company claim,

(1) The originality of the device for producing the variable velocity of the hook;

(2) The originality of the independent take-up, which, by positive motions, gives thread just when needed by the movements of the hook and does not begin to draw up the loop until the needle is entirely out of the goods, thus permitting the use of larger thread with smaller needle than is otherwise possible, preventing the chafing or fraying of the thread between the needle and the material sewed, filling the needle hole with thread, producing a water-tight seam in waterproof goods, and giving a beauty and strength to the stitch which is otherwise unattainable;

(3) The originality of the under tension apparatus, which clamps the lower thread only while the take-up is closing the stitch and releases it entirely as soon as the drawing up is completed, so that there is no tension on the lower thread  while the process of feeding is going on; which requires no “threading up” and may be regulated to give the required tension, while the machine is in operation, by simply moving a lever and is so peculiarly constructed that knots, loops, or varying size of under thread cause no obstruction to the process of sewing. This tension apparatus was patented as an automatic tension and it is automatic not simply in this, that of its own action it necessarily clamps and releases the thread at precisely the right time, but such are its relations to feed, take-up and upper tension, as to render the entire tension apparatus of the machine automatic in this respect, that when the tensions are once properly balanced,  i.e., adjusted as to relative intensity, the position of the lock of the stitch in the goods is independent of the length of stitch, or the kind or thickness of the material sewed.

Another very important machine and showing recent improvements, is that of Messrs. Willcox & Gibbs. It employs a straight needle and a rotating hook with single thread, to form a chain or loop stitch. Some seamstresses complain that this stitch is too easily unravelled and, in any case, that it uses up more thread than the ordinary lockstitch machine. The first objection is sometimes overcome by sewing two parallel seams. This is the most rapidly running of all, when driven by power making the almost incredible number of 3.000 stitches per minute. It also runs with remarkable ease and is hence sometimes preferred by seamstresses who object to machines requiring more physical exertion. The most important and original feature in the new Willcox & Gibbs sewing machine consists in the automatic tension, by the use of which no change in the machine tension, is required to meet, any variation in the stitch, thread, or goods. The thread by means of a simple self-acting arrangement is released at the very instant of time required and is then held tight for the remainder of the stitch. The stitch adjustment can be set by merely moving "the stitch regulator" until numerals showing the exact number of stitches to an inch appear through a slot in the cloth plate and against a corresponding number engraved on a table on the cloth plate appear the numbers giving the appropriate sizes of needle and thread. There are thus no haphazard preliminary trials on the part of the seamstress. Apart from the Grover & Baker double chain stitch machine, this is thus the only commercial machine solely making any other than the now universally used lockstitch. And even this firm are said to be experimenting with a machine for forming this stitch, which is no doubt the best of all as regards security from unravelling, evenness on both sides, freedom from a ridge and economy in thread. This machine Messrs. Willcox and Gibbs are stated to be keeping in petto until fully perfected; so that, although patented in the United States, it was not to be seen at the Centennial Exhibition.

Another new machine which obtained a medal and favourable report was that of the Weed Sewing Machine Company, of Hartford, Connecticut. This is a shuttle machine, employing a straight needle and needle bar, connected by a link with a crank at the end of a horizontal shaft in the overhanging arm. The needle bar moving shaft is connected through a link with and has a working motion imparted to it by, a crank on a lower rotating shaft. The shuttle set in a carrier is reciprocated parallel with the direction of the feed by a crank and link connected with the rotating shaft and the four-motioned feed is moved positively. The details of this new Weed machine must undoubtedly wear well and they are of very great merit, while the work it did was excellent. The Howe is a shuttle machine in which both needle and shuttle are moved by means of vibrating levers actuated by grooved hub cams on a rotating shaft. As this machine did good work, it obtained an award, but we consider that in point of constructive merit, involving long wear, it is much surpassed by many machines of inferior fame. It worked especially well on leather, for which the draw of the threads, and the sensitive shuttle tension, well adapt it.

A machine that also did good work was that of the Wilson Sewing Machine Company, Chicago. This is a shuttle machine employing a shuttle reciprocated transversely to the feeding movement of the four-motioned feed; with a straight needle and needle bar moved by a vibrating arm and actuated by a crank pin working in a heart-shaped cam made in the lower end of the vibrating arm below the cloth support.

The following machines also obtained awards. Messrs. J. and W. Lyall, of New York, showed the most rapidly working shuttle machine on the ground, the invention of Mr. Whitehill. It was timed by the judges up to 2,200 stitches per minute. The vertical needlebar is reciprocated from a rotating shaft by an epicycloidal movement.

Messrs. Johnson, Clark and Co.'s so-called " Home " hand-operated shuttle machine, employing a straight needle bar operated by a rotating shaft and heart cam, a horizontally vibrating shuttle carrying arm moved by an eccentric on a horizontal shaft is one of the few machines of this class, hand machines not having been as yet much introduced into the United States. Their slower action is not liked. In England they are much in use in households and are preferred on account of their portability.

The Davis Sewing Machine Company of Watertown, New York, obtained an award for their shuttle sewing machine, employing a co-operating vertical upper and needle feed and lifting presser and a shuttle supported in a carrier at the end of a horizontally vibrating arm actuated from a vertical lever operated by a cam on a rotating shaft in the overhanging arm.

The Howe Company also showed machines for ornamental stitching on fine shoes, gloves and similar work, having a universal feed operated automatically by means of a Jacquard movement or by hand and capable of producing designs in great variety.

The Coles embroidery machine, the Goodes' machine, are similar in general character, being adaptable to ordinary work. As a rule, however, we did not find that these machines did their ordinary work at all well.

Some machines on the well known Grover & Baker, or double chain stitch plan, were shown by the Domestic Sewing Machine Company. This machine is now getting entirely out of use in America for family and manufacturing purposes. Except for uses wherein peculiar elasticity of stitch is required, such as for shot bags, or wherein its stitch is used for ornamental purposes, it is not now bought by the very discriminating and shrewd American public, who object to the great amount of thread taken up by this form of stitch. The most practical mode of doing embroidery and similar work on a machine to be used for ordinary work also is to adapt to it one of the many separate embroidery attachments now in the market. But for a lady, working seamstress, comparatively indifferent as to the consumption of time and thread, desirous of a very elastic stitch and of the capability of easily making ornamental work, perhaps the Grover and Baker is the most suitable machine.

A different case is that wherein embroidery work has to be done solely and rapidly in manufacturing establishments. France showed the really beautiful Bonnaz embroidering machine, admirable for the ingenuity displayed in its combination and for its excellent workmanship. It was exhibited by E. Comely, of Paris. It is well known by this time in England; with its hooked needle and its universal upper four-motioned feed. It is stated to work with any kind of thread, from the finest cotton to chenille, on any material from the lightest tulle to the heaviest cloth- and it very deservedly obtained a premium. France sent no sewing machines, only a peculiar form of treadle adaptable to such machinery.

Of the European sewing machines which obtained awards we may mention those by Messrs. Kimball & Morton, of Glasgow and Dundee; the first was a large shuttle machine for sewing sails, bagging and tarpaulins. The head in which the needle bar reciprocates is moved laterally after each stitch, so as to make the herring-bone stitch; the needle bar is operated by a rotating shaft and heart cam, the feed surface is placed above the material, it has four motions and the shuttle is moved transversely to the direction of the feed. The second was a sewing machine having a peculiar thread-carrying looper attached to a shuttle driver and adapted to form an overseaming stitch.

Messrs. R. M. Wanzer & Co., of Ontario, were awarded a medal for a shuttle sewing machine, employing a rotating shaft, with overhanging arm and driving the needle bar through a link and trammel movement, placed eccentrically to the disc at the end of the shaft and a shuttle moved parallel with the direction of the feed by a crank on a rocking shaft and a four motioned feed.

The only exhibit in this class from Denmark was sent by H. Henriksen, of Copenhagen. It consisted in a small machine for sewing gloves with a lock stitch and having a flat and a tubular work support. It obtained an award on account of its fair amount of originality.

The treadle in the machine of Messrs. Wilkie and Osborne, Guelph, Ont., is suspended in such wise that the foot-rest may be moved and held at different angles, so that the operator can alter the position of her feet and bring into action different sets of muscles. A medal was given for this treadle, not for the machine.

The friction belt gearing for obtaining varying speeds on sewing machines, by Mr. Howard of Philadelphia, is well suited for power-driven machines having to be frequently stopped and varied in speed. A pair of light stands screwed to the floor carry a shaft to which an adjustable treadle is attached, as also an arm to which are secured a light case and belt guide, carrying the belt pulley. The belt is passed round this pulley up to that on the machine, adjusted so that the belt will hold it out of contact with the pulley on line shaft. A slight pressure of the foot will thus start the machine slowly, the speed increasing with the pressure on the treadle.

Eickemeyer's Hat-blocking Machine Company, of Yonkers, New York, got a medal for their machine for sewing sweat linings in hats. It is made with a supporting plate, set to an acute angle, for sustaining the hat, the brim being allowed to project over the edge of the support. The stitching mechanism consists of an eye-pointed needle and vibrating looper to form a chain stitch.

The machine for sewing "green " hides, such as sheep-skins, together, before tanning them, by Mr. G. C. Walters, of Philadelphia, obtained an award. The machine makes a chain-stitch and the skin is held and fed onwards between the serrated presser foot and a serrated bottom holder. The clamping jaws thus formed are caused to oscillate together, the presser foot being drawn up again for the return and the needle passes up and down through a slot in both. Of this class may also be noted a machine for sewing untanned goat skins and another for untanned salted sheep skins, by Geo. Wm. Baker, of Wilmington, Del.

Button-hole sewing machines form important adjuncts to large tailoring and similar establishments; they embody a great deal of ingenuity. Four were medalled by the judges. The Singer (1) button-hole machine is specially adapted for making button-holes in clothing and leather, the materials to be stitched being held in an automatically moving clamp that presents the edge of the button-hole to the action of a needle reciprocating in a laterally moving head.

The button-hole machine of the American Button-hole Overseaming and Sewing Machine Company (2) employs a straight needle actuated through a vibrating arm and cam-grooved hub and a curved shuttle reciprocated in a plane parallel with the feed on a curved race way. For button-hole stitching the shuttle race is turned aside, a vibrating arm provided with a curved thread carrying looper is turned into working position so as to carry its thread through the loop of needle thread and above the edge of the material to be acted upon by a loop spreader.

The award also covered a carpet sewing machine.

The Remington Sewing Machine Company (3) obtained an award on a button-hole sewing machine specially for cotton and linen, employing a single thread and finishing the button-hole automatically. This was constructed according to Mr. Cleminshaw's patents and it is a very ingenious machine.

The Hamburgh-American Sewing Machine Company, formerly Messrs. Pollack,Schmidt, & Co. (4), sent other work besides mere copies of the leading American makers. For their button-hole sewing machine with vibrating arm and a shuttle they obtained an award. The guide for the needle-bar is set to one side of the machine and is suspended from and oscillates on a pin in the head of the machine. When the machine is to be used for an ordinary stitch, the oscillating guide is held by a catch, on being unlocked it can be vibrated to and fro by means of a face cam acting on a lever and a link pinned thereto. Messrs. Pollack and Schmidt were also at Vienna, where they exhibited machines on the old Wheeler and Wilson and on the Wilcox and Gibbs systems.

It is now generally acknowledged, tacitly or otherwise, that machines employing curved needles are only practicable for very light work. The sole machine in the Exhibition with a curved needle, after doing fairly well some light work, broke down lamentably on a heavier class of goods. We may also note that the two spool sewing machines, two of which were fully tried, were not found to stand the tests well, either for light or heavy work. As regards sewing machine attachments, no medal was given for the reason that the principal makers of the best sewing machine attachments did not appear in person; according to the rules, exhibitors of other peoples products could not be noticed; while it was preferred to ignore anything second-rate.

The Billings and Spencer Company, Connecticut, showed a number of drop forged and cold pressed sewing machine shuttles and shuttle bobbins. These articles are drop forged out of steel, cold pressed under heavy pressure and then finished merely on an emery wheel, thus saving the expense of milling. By this employment of Mr. Billings' patented plan, the surfaces are said to be made harder against wear and the whole piece tougher.

The National Needle Company, Springfield, Massachusetts, obtained a medal for their needles and system of making them. Employed in manufacturing sewing machine needles, their set of fine machinery successfully carried on the operations of reducing and printing, polishing, grooving, eye punching, leather pointing, tempering, hard burring, brass brushing, eye polishing, hand straightening and giving the finishing points and final polish.

Messrs. H. Millward and Son of Redditch, James Smith and Son, Astwood Bank and John Wright Smith of Leicester, were the English needle making firms who obtained medals for their exhibits.

Herr Lammertz of Aix-la-Chapelle obtained a medal for a first-rate display of sewing machine needles, distinguished for their well polished eyes and good temper.

Mrs. Suplee, of the Suplee Needle Co., New York, obtained a medal for an open-eyed needle easily threaded without reeving by persons with defective sight, as the eye is opened with a side cut, past which the thread can be slipped into the eye.

Numerous sewing machine prime movers were on exhibition, such as Backus' water motor, Haskell's reciprocating water engine, several electromagnetic engines, such as Hussey's, some very small steam engines and a " minimotor," consisting of a small form of Ryder's hot-air compression engine.

But these did not, it was ascertained later on, officially come under our notice, being considered by the group of judges on motors.

We now come to the knitting machines that gained prizes.

The Lamb Knitting Machine Manufacturing Company, of Chicopee Falls, received a medal for two machines; their knitting machine for family use employing two rows of latched needles adapted to be used separately or together for flat or circular fabrics if desired and for a straight machine for knitting ribbed fabric for Cardigan jackets.

The Franz and Pope Knitting Machine Company, Bucyrus, Ohio, obtained a medal for the original point in their circular knitting machine, which consists in its constructive capability to remove needles or place them in position to be gradually moved into or out of action for producing heels in hosiery fabrics and to knit goods.

This was also the case with Mr. Dana Bickford, of New York and for his circular automatically reversible knitting machine, for knitting tubular or flat web, complete stockings or socks and other fancy or plain work. This is, we believe, the machine advertised in England under the designation of the " little Rapid” and its leading feature of originality consists in its mechanism for reversing the cam cylinder to enable this circular machine to produce tubular or flat fabric.

Messrs. Campbell and Clute's upright rotary knitting machine, using bearded needles, obtained an award for its excellent attachment to prevent the work from running off the needles when the thread breaks and for its good automatic self-regulating take-up.

The circular ribbing machine, for heavy work, adapted to make tubular goods with polka or plain rib stitch, exhibited by Messrs. Gimson and Coltman of Leicester, obtained an award.

The only cloth-cutting machine of the three exhibited which obtained a medal was that of Mr. Sanson of London, all three having been very carefully .tested. This machine is simply a common band saw or rather band knife, the upper arm of the frame being made to spring slightly in order to prevent its running hard. The folds of cloth are necessarily moved against the band just as a piece of wood is moved against the band saw.

In the two American machines, on the contrary, in the one case a rotary cutting head, in the other a reciprocating knife, is combined with a travelling power carrier and the tool, held by the operator, is moved along the contours of the cloth to be cut out.

Mr. Albin Worth, of Staten Island, New York, obtained a medal for his travelling cloth-folding and measuring machine, by which the material can be piled in layers of any length for the marking of the design to be cut and the machine can be reversed in such wise that fine goods can be laid so as to be cut off to any length.

Of the pressing machines for tailors' use, that of Mr. Storrs, of Canton, N.Y., obtained an award. Its pressing iron is free to be turned in any direction at the end of an arm connected by a pivoted link with the upper end of a U-shaped arm supported on a horizontal bearing. This U -shaped arm is provided with a foot lever for moving it so as to press the " goose " down upon the material with any desired degree of pressure, the material being suitably arranged on the press board. The arm is moved by hand and heated by means of a hot iron plate inserted within the hollow iron.

In the pressing machine by Mr. Sanson, of London, the iron may be partially revolved at the end of a rod adapted to slide longitudinally between a number of rollers carried on a pivoted arm or crane, free to be moved in the arc of a circle.

In that of Mr. Walker of Boston, Mass., the iron is swivelled at the end of a toggle free to turn about a vertical shaft, adapted to be raised or lowered by the action of a spring and foot lever, so as to press it down with sufficient force. The iron is moved by hand, and is warmed by the insertion of a heated plate.

Foremost amongst the exhibitors of watch-making machinery, the American Watch Company, Waltham, Mass., obtained one medal as being the first firm to adopt the system of assembling interchangeable parts in the manufacture of watches and a second for their watch machinery itself. A lengthy and important treatise could be compiled on the American factory method of making watches, especially as contrasted with the Swiss house and hand system. An ingenious combination lathe, of which some 5.000 are said to be in use, for making and repairing parts of watches, by Mr. Stark, Waltham, Mass., obtained an award.

This was also the case with Messrs. Louis Borel Petitpierre of Neuchatel, Switzerland, for their watchmakers' lathes and machines for the hand systems of watchmaking and repairing  and Messrs. Samuel Vautier and Son, for files, gravers, and burnishers used in watchmaking and jewellery.

Amongst the miscellaneous class of machinery which obtained awards were the machines of the Butler Braider Company, Clinton, Mass., who showed at work six braiding machines, four carrying 53 threads, one 17 and one 16 threads.

The so-called Pyramid Pin Company had a series of ingenious machines for sticking pins into a continuous strip of paper, afterwards wound and pressed into a conical form.

Mr. Oppenheimer, of Philadelphia, used hollow metal conical tubes, supplied with steam or hot water for curling real and imitation hair goods.

Herr Schmalz, of Altenburg, Saxony, obtained a medal for a very complete display of stamps and dies used in the manufacture of gloves.

A novel machine for darning stockings and clothing is made by the Pope Manufacturing Company, Boston and it is being introduced into England. The fabric is held in blocks corrugating it temporarily in such wise that a series of needles held on a reciprocating bar can pass through and through the margins of the hole in the fabric. These needles, which are eye pointed, move in grooves in the block and when passed through the fabric, are then all threaded by the same thread. This thread is then drawn out in loops from between each needle and each loop, is placed on a pin of a loop holder adjustable to or from the work holding blocks to adapt the loop to the size of the hole and on the return movement of the needle bar each needle draws a doubled loop through the fabric at each side of and leaves the thread extended across, the hole. The loops of thread are then cut at the eyes of the needles and the fabric is turned on the holding blocks and clamped, so that the needles in their next movement will draw the loops then formed across and interweave them with the loops of thread previously laid by the needles. This machine is very simple and probably has a great future before it but at present the edges of the darn are left somewhat rough and the apparatus, it can scarcely be called a machine, is capable of improvement.

In conclusion, it may be remarked, that perhaps no mechanic could examine the exhibits of this group more especially without coming to the conclusion that in the production of this class of labour and skill-saving machinery the United States stand preeminent. Since the above report was written, the United States Executive Commission created a Jury of Appeals, by whom a few additional awards have been granted, but of which the writer has not received official intimation.


Frederick A. Paget

Member of the Society of Civil Engineers of France and Corresponding Member of the Society of German Engineers; elected Secretary of his Group of 4 Judges.


Colonel H. B. Sandford

British Executive Commission, Philadelphia