[1] Charles M. Karch, Needles: Historical and Descriptive (12 Census U.S., vol. X, 1902), pp. 429-432.

[2] Florence Lewis May, Hispanic Lace and Lace Making (New York, 1939), pp. 267-271.

[3] Diderot’s L’Encyclopédie, ou dictionnaire raisonné des sciences, des arts et des métiers ..., vol. II (1763), Plates Brodeur, plate II.

[4] The term “crochet,” as used today, became the modern counterpart of the Spanish punto de aguja about the second quarter of the 19th century.

[5] Sewing Machine News (1880), vol. 1, no. 7, p. 2.

[6] This model of Saint’s machine was bequeathed by Mr. Wilson to the South Kensington Museum, London, England.

[7] Sewing Machine News (1880), vol. 1, no. 8, p. 2.

[8] Ibid.

[9] Erich Luth, Ein Mayener Strumpfwirker, Balthasar Krems, 1760-1813, Erfinder der Nähmaschine, p. 10, states that the machine used an eye-pointed needle. Wilhelm Renters, Praktisches Wissen von der Nähmaschine, p. 4, states that Krems used a hooked needle. Renters probably mistook the hooked retaining pin for the needle.

[10] Dr. Dahmen, Burgermeister of Mayen, stated in a letter of October 8, 1963, that the original Krems machine was turned over to the officials of Mayen by Krems’ descendants about the turn of the century. He verified that the machine used an eye-pointed needle. About 1920 the machine was placed in the Eifelmuseum in Genovevaburg; some of the unessential parts were restored. The machine now at this museum is the one pictured in Luth’s book. A replica of the machine is in the Deutsches Museum, Munich, Germany.

[11] Josef Madersperger, Beschreibung einer Nähmaschine(Vienna, ca. 1816).

The exact date of this small booklet is not known. In the booklet Madersperger reports that he had received a patent in 1814 for his first machine adapted to straight sewing. However, the machine described and illustrated in this booklet was one that could stitch semicircles and small figures. In Kunst und Gewerbeblatt, a periodical (Munich, Germany, 1817, pp. 336-338), reference is made to the Madersperger machine and a statement to the effect that the inventor had published a leaflet describing his machine. The leaflet referred to is believed to be the one under discussion. For this reason it must have been published between 1814 and 1817, therefore ca. 1816. The only copy of this booklet known to this author is in the New York Public Library. It was probably not known to authors Luth and Renters. The author wishes to thank Miss Rita J. Adrosko of her staff for her important help in translating these German publications.

[12] Sewing Machine Times (1907), vol. 26, no. 865, p. 1.

[13] There are no known models of these early Madersperger machines in existence. Although the Sewing Machine Times reported in the 1907 issue that the 1814 sewing machine was then on exhibition in the Museum of the Vienna Polytechnic, the illustration shown was of Madersperger’s 1839 machine. In a letter from the director of the Technisches Museum für Industrie und Gewerbe in Vienna, received in 1962, it was stated that the original 1814 Madersperger machine was in their museum. The photographs that were sent, however, were of the 1839 machine. This machine is entirely different from the 1814-1817 machine, as can readily be seen by the reader (figs. 7 and 10).


[14] John P. Stambaugh, A History of the Sewing Machine(Hartford, Conn., 1872), p. 13; Sewing Machine News (July 1880), vol. 1, no. 12, p. 4.

[15] “Sewing Machines,” Johnson’s Universal Cyclopaedia (New York, 1878), vol. 4, p. 205. The 1874 edition does not include this reference to Rev. John Adam Dodge.

[16] Letters to the author from the Vermont Historical Society (Nov. 13, 1953) and the Bennington Historical Museum and Art Gallery (May 2, 1953).

[17] Edmund Burke. Commissioner of Patents, List of Patents for Inventions and Designs Issued by the United States from 1790 to 1847 (Washington, 1847).

[18] See Barthelemy Thimonnier’s biographical sketch, p. 137.

[19] French patent issued to Barthelemy Thimonnier and M. Ferrand (who was a tutor at l’Ecole des Mines, Saint-Etienne, and helped finance the patent), July 17, 1830.

[20] The company was located at Villefranche-sur-Saône, but no name is recorded. See J. Granger, Thimonnier et la machine à coudre(1943), p. 16.

[21] See Walter Hunt’s biographical sketch, p. 138.

[22] The earliest known reference in print to Walter Hunt’s sewing machine is in Sewing by Machinery: An Exposition of the History of Patentees of Various Sewing Machines and of the Rights of the Public(I. M. Singer & Co., 1853). A more detailed story of Hunt’s invention is in Sewing Machine News (1880-81), vol. 2, no. 2, p. 4; no. 4, p. 5; and no. 8, pp. 3 and 8.

[23] Vol. 2, no. 8, p. 3.

[24] In the opinion and decision of C. Mason, Commissioner of the Patent Office, offered on May 24, 1854, for the Hunt vs. Howe interference suit, Mason stated: “He [Hunt] proves that in 1834 or 1835 he contrived a machine by which he actually effected his purpose of sewing cloth with considerable success.”

[25] The rebuilt machine, according to a letter to the author from B. F. Thompson of the Singer company, is believed to have been one of the machines lost in a Singer factory fire at Elizabethport, N.J., in 1890.

[26] Op. cit. (footnote 24).

[27] Edward H. Knight, Sewing Machines, vol. 3 of Knight’s American Mechanical Dictionary.

[28] A seam using the saddler’s stitch appears as a neat line of touching stitches on both sides. Even when made by hand, it is sometimes misidentified by the casual observer as the lockstitch because of the uniformity of both sides. If the saddler’s stitch was formed of threads of two different colors, the even stitches on one side of the seam and the odd stitches on the reverse side would be of one color, and vice versa.

[29] The Life and Works of George H. Corliss, privately printed for Mary Corliss by the American Historical Society, 1930. The Corliss family records were turned over to the Baker Library, Harvard University. In a letter addressed to this author by Robert W. Lovett of the Manuscripts Division on August 2, 1954, it was reported that there was a record on their Corliss card to the effect that a model of his sewing machine, received with the collection, was turned over to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; however, Mr. Lovett also stated that from a manuscript memoir of Mr. Corliss that it would seem that he developed only the one machine—the patent model. In a letter dated November 15, 1954, Stanley Backer, assistant professor of mechanical engineering, stated that after extensive inquiries they were unable to locate the model at M.I.T. In 1964, Dr. Robert Woodbury, of M.I.T., turned over to the Smithsonian Institution the official copies of the Corliss drawings and the specifications which had been awarded to the inventor by the Patent Office. It is possible that this may have been the material noted on the Harvard University card as having been transferred to M.I.T.

[30] Sewing Machine Times (July 10, 1907), vol. 26, no. 858, p. 1.

[31] This is the earliest known patent using the combination of an eye-pointed needle and a shuttle to form a stitch.

[32] In embroidery, couching is the technique of laying a decorative thread on the surface of the fabric and stitching it into place with a second less-conspicuous thread.



Produced by Chris Curnow, Joseph Cooper, Louise Pattison