Saturday, January 20, 2018

Sewing Machines circa 1860

Wheeler and Wilson ad with a young seamstress.
The framed poster on the left advertises the Paris
Exposition Universelle of 1867

In looking for illustrations for the post a few weeks ago on the quilted lining for Lincoln's coat I realized I'd collected several photos of people demonstrating sewing machines during the mid-19th century.

Most of them---I know nothing about the source
for the picture and certainly nothing about the machines.

I'm guessing the 1850-1870 dates by costume, hair
and photo format

One of the best, 1850s?
from the Library of Congresss

About 1870: Laura Bridgman showing
that a Wheeler & Wilson machine was so easy to use that a blind woman
could use it. From the files of the Perkins Institute.

Here is her sewing machine


regan said...

I think I saw a couple of Wilcox & Gibbs favorite! They are lovely pieces of art!

kathyinozarks said...

Good morning, I really enjoyed this post-fun to see the different machines and the women's dresses too

Chantal said...

I have seen the first picture before, and every time it gives me chills. I have a picture of myself at age 7 or 8 and I look exactly like that ... but in colors. Scary! Love to see the different machine and people's clothing. Thanks for sharing. ;^)

Janie said...

I love old sewing machines, and new ones too I must confess.
My grandmother had a singer treadle and I knew every inch of that machine.
Fun, yes.

Unknown said...

The very last picture of the Wheeler Wilson is a machine that I have. If you look very closely, you can see the pressure foot. It is glass and was interchangable with several other glass feet made for specific tasks. Wheeler Wilson made the first rotary hook and bobbin set up made. The fabric moved left to right, rather than front to back. The needles had a slight curve to them and are expensive to buy now. Wheeler Wilson is my favorite of the oldest machines. I have the pictured one (Model 3) and their Model 8 and Model 9. The 8 and 9's were either hand crank or treadle.

Jan Smith

Phyllis in Iowa said...

What fun! I collect vintage and antique sewing machines. My collection contains three Wheeler & Wilson curved needle machines and their treadles (as in the photos), several each of later models - 8, 9, D9 and 9W (basically a W&W9 with Singer sized base).

My collection also contains a couple different Willcox & Gibbs hand cranks and three different treadles plus a few electrics with shoe shaped foot controllers.

And a several 1870s treadles - a couple Americans, a Florence curved needle machine, a Wilson, a Weed, a couple Singer 12s, a low arm Davis needle feed. My earliest sewing machine is an 1860s Folsom hand crank.

Fountain pens would require less storage space, but would not be so much fun.

PaulaB quilts said...

Thanks for sharing your photos of these very early models. It seems that men were also fascinated by the maacinery. One of them seems to be using it as a tailor.

Judith said...

Love the pictures! I have several of these machines in my collection. They still work as well as they did 100+ years ago. How many of our modern machines will last that long? I do most of my piecing on hand crank and treadle machines but use the Bernina for quilting.

Kerry said...

Oh how beautiful! And I love those dresses all floofed out! My favourite photo is the young man with the pipe and the machine looks to be very decorated - mother of pearl perhaps?

Jill said...

Wonderful antique photos of people and sewing machines. The one at the Library of Congress is special. Obviously, she loved her machine. Thanks for sharing.

Rina Spina said...

Even though I don’t know anything about old sewing machine, this post is very interesting!
This past Christmas my dad gave me my mother’s old machine, a Singer K46, it still works , just need to be cleaned. Really this machine belonged to her aunt that was a corset maker, at the beginning of the 1900, she made corsets for almost all the riches ladies in town, she was well knew for the accuracy on doing bras and corsets.
She was a single women, and used to live with us, until she passed away in 1982.
I hope a could use again this machine, in the meantime it has a special place in my bedroom.
Thank you, Barbara I really enjoy reading your blog.