Vintage Sewing Machine Collecting



In 1790 the first workable sewing machine was invented and patented by the British inventor Thomas Saint. Earlier, in 1755, Karl Weisenthal, a German inventor, devised the first sewing macine needle, but did not produce a complete machine.

Sewing Machine Historical Information

What makes a sewing machine a collectible? Age is one obvious factor. Some of the most valuable Singer Machines were made in the first years of the company's history, particularly the 1850's and 1860's. Models such as the Singer Perpendicular Action Sewing Machine (manufactured 1851-1861) have sold for $3,000 or more.

Isaac Singer looking at a machine made by Lerow & Blodgett concluded that the sewing machine would be more reliable if the shuttle moved in a straight line rather than a circle, and with a straight rather than a curved needle. Singer was able to obtain US Patent number 8294 for his improvements on August 12, 1851.

Singer's prototype sewing machine became the first to work in a practical way, it could sew 900 stitches per minute.

singer sewing machine pattent print
Patent Print available from Vintage Internet Patents

In 1856, manufacturers Grover & Baker, Singer, Wheeler & Wilson, all accusing each other of patent infringement, agreed to form the Sewing Machine Combination, but for this to be of any use, they had to secure the cooperation of Elias Howe, who still held certain vital uncontested patents. Terms were arranged; Howe received a royalty on every sewing machine manufactured.

I. M. Singer & Co manufactured 2,564 machines in 1856, and 13,000 in 1860, investing heavily in mass production, utilizing the concept of interchangeable parts developed by Samuel Colt and Eli Whitney for their firearms, he was able to sell the machines for $10. He also introduced installment payments and accepted trade-ins.

In 1905 Singer took over Wheeler and Wilson.

Home sewing machine

Elias Howe's lockstitch machine, invented in 1845.

wheeler and wilson sewing machine

An 1880 Wheeler and Wilson machine

1922 Singer Sewing Machine

1922 Singer Sewing Machine

Sewing Machine Patent Prints

Grover and Baker History

VIdeo of Grover and Baker 1863 Sewing Machine


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