A BRIEF HISTORY OF SEWING MACHINES
This subject is much discussed at present, particularly among the Ladies and thought to be one of the greatest wonders and extraordinary inventions of the age and admitted by all I believe, who have ever witnessed their operations, to be a prize beyond value. Their great utility is a fixed fact and all in one breath, who know their worth, are willing to proclaim aloud, that the greatest blessing ever possessed by woman, except a (husband) is a Sewing Machine. They are to the sewing girl a blessing, that has no comparison, while they are equally indispensable for general family sewing. With one of these machines, as much sewing can be accomplished in one day, as can be done in the same length of time, by ten of the best sewers by hand and the work much more regular, stronger and durable. The fact of their usefulness being at this time fully admitted; the question now arises in the minds of purchasers, out of the various inventions and kinds manufactured, which is the best for general use, or family sewing. As this is the kind of sewing machine most needed and valued for the benefit of such. permit me to add the experience of one who is familiar with the operations and workings of all the various kinds manufactured in the United States, which have any reputation, or considered of any practical value. In the first place, there has never been but one invention of the sewing machine in the country and for this invention, the public are indebted to the skill and genius of Elias Howe, of New York, the originator and inventor and to his invention has been added by others, improvements from time to time, until at length one has been produced by Messrs. Grover & Baker, of Boston, the performance of which for general use, is not only superior to all others, but far surpasses the most sanguine and vivid imagination.
The first machine that made its appearance in this country, was a Shuttle Machine, patented by Elias Howe, in 1845 and since that time, the following list of inventions, or improvements upon the original invention of said Howe may be added, having made their appearance before the public principally in the last 6 or 7 years.
US MACHINES IN 1857
The Avery Sewing Machine, first exhibited at the American Institute Fair in October, 1852. (?)
The N. Hunt Machine of Boston.
The American Magnetic Sewing Machine.
The Dorcas Machine.
The Weed Sewing Machine.
The New York Sewing Machine.
The Parker Sewing Machine.
The Excelsior Sewing Machine.
These I believe without exception, were all shuttle machines (?) and have proven to be of but little, if any practical value and are forgotten and are now mentioned only, as among the things that were. In the last four months, there has appeared the Watson Patent, (US 16.136 issued in November 25, 1856 to William C. Watson) "ten dollar Sewing Machine".
I have seen and examined this machine, it sews with a single thread of silk forming a single loop. Of course this kind of sewing, if it may be called sewing, cannot be durable and moreover, if the thread is not securely fastened at the end of every piece of work, it is liable to all run out, but aside from all this, as much work can be accomplished in one day, by a tolerably expert hand, at haudsewing, as can be done on one of these machines and the work much better and more easily accomplished. This gentleman however, does not propose to sell Machines at retail at all. This machine appears to have been gotten up for the sole purpose of selling rights of States and Counties. The only merit of this machine is, that the parties say that it can be sold for $ 10 and at the same time this machine, in part, is an infringement upon Howe's Patent, making the parties manufacturing and jelling these machines, liable to Elias Howe Jr., of New York, to pay him the usual tax paid by all other manufactories, which is $ 10, on each machine made and sold. This amount is paid to said Howe, by Isaac Merritt Singer, Grover & Baker, Wheeler & Wilson and others. There can be no sewing machine made using a Vertical Needle, that is not an infringement upon Howe's Patent.
This alone is self-evident, that this machine is gotten up for the purposes before stated; having no claims to utility. But still this same machine will doubles, prove of some profit to the shrewd speculator, but it is doomed to a short life, like many others and similar adventures, in the same disastrous field of speculations.
This list, I think, comprises all the names of the various kinds of sewing machines, of which the public have any knowledge since 1846, with the exception of the Isaac M. Singer, Grover & Baker and Wheeler & Wilson machines. These last three mentioned inventors and manufacturers of sewing machines, have so far out-stripped all others, in improvements upon Howe's Patent, that truly it would seem useless for the most ingenious and skillful inventors ever again, to attempt to produce a machine for sewing, to surpass or even equal them. Now as there are but three manufacturers of sewing machines of any practical worth, in this country, the number and variety is not so great at last, as to give any one much trouble, after a slight examination in making a selection, therefore, any person wishing to purchase a sewing machine, will be compelled if they desire a useful and valuable machine, to make a selection from either one or the other, of the last three named. With these three I am most familiar, have used them all and do not hesitate to pronounce them all good. And here allow me to attempt in a few brief remarks to discuss the merits of each.
The first I propose to mention is the I. M. Singer machine. This machine runs with a shuttle, is a very slow machine, when compared with the speed of either of the others, but sews very well, when a silk thread is used and is much used for binding Hats, Cap making and to some extent used by manufacturers of Clothing to advantage, but for general family use, will not compart with either of the others.
Next the Wheeler & Wilson machine. This is also a shuttle machine and is well adapted to shirt making, as well as various other Winds of light and delicate work, but like all other shuttle machines, attended with much time and trouble in preparing and filling a small shuttle, which holds but a few yards of thread. I find all shuttle machines I have ever used to be complicated, liable to get out of order and attended with much more difficulty in running, than the Circular or two Needle Machine, that sews with two continuous threads.
Next is the Grover & Baker, shuttle machine. This is truly a neat all air, beautifully arranged on a stand, or table. Is the most simple In construction, sews equally as well as either of the others, but like all other shuttle machines, if the thread is cut or broken, the work will rip, besides being attended with the same disadvantage with the other two of having to stop your work every few minutes to fill an exhausted shuttle.
Last but not least is the Grover & Baker Family Sewing Machine and is really what it purports to be; is not a shuttle machine and is unlike any other in use, it forms a seam with two endless threads from the ordinary spool of Silk, Linen or Cotton thread, tying a knot at every stitch. The sewing by this machine will not rip and the regularity, durability and beauty of the work, far surpasses any hand-sewing. This machine is very simple in construction, is easily managed and cared for and in no way liable to get out of order and in one hour's practice, any person of ordinary capacity, can learn to use it profitably. I have been using this machine constantly to great pecuniary advantage, for thirteen months past, while some of the other kinds have been thrown aside and are lying idle in my presence. I have seen a young lady make on one of there machines, in nine hours, one hundred and fourteen Muslin Sheets, the distance sewed on each sheet two hundred inches, equal to twenty-two thousand eight hundred inches, nineteen hundred feet, six hundred and thirty-three yards or forty-seven yards over one third of a mile. This work was accomplished by Miss Cinthia Jolner of the City of Nashville, on one of Grover & Baker's No.13, Family Table Machine and this being the smallest machine they make, no bashing being done to this work whatever. Six sheets of the size above mentioned, is considered a large day's work by hand. The same young lady tells me she has made in one day 746 Corn sacks, of heavy Osnaburg, while fifty ia a large day's work by hand. I have seen a Negro boy after two days practice, sew the seams of 40 pair of Cashmere Pants in one day, this however, would be considered quite a small day's work for an experienced hand, the seams of 100 pair can be sewed on this machine in one day. All kinds of general sewing, both coarse and fine, can be done on this machine, with equal facility, making any length stitch desired, using Coats Spool Cotton, at fine as No. 150 or the finest quality of Linen Cambric or Swiss Muslin, to the coarsest Cotton, Linen or Silk thread, on the heaviest Beaver or Blanket Cloths. This is truly a Family Sewing Machine.
Daily Nashville Patriot (Nashville, Tennessee) February 19, 1857
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