overall: 5 5/8 in x 6 1/4 in x 2 in; 14.2875 cm x 15.875 cm x 5.08 cm
clock movement, patent model
patent model, clock striker
United States: Connecticut, Bristol
United States: Connecticut, Bristol
Industry & Manufacturing
The depression of 1837 hit Connecticut clock manufacturers so hard that they feared the entire industry might collapse. On a trip to Virginia to collect old bills, Chauncey Jerome--a successful clock producer from Bristol, Connecticut, and a disciple of Eli Terry—had a new idea. A simple, weight-driven, one-day clock made of brass, he thought, could be produced far more cheaply and in much greater quantities than the standard wooden clock. When he returned home, he described the idea to his brother Noble. Noble Jerome, a talented clockmaker, quickly made a prototype and received a U.S. patent on it in 1839.
By that time, mechanized production of clock movements was already underway and would soon reach unprecedented numbers. Whereas the typical factory might produce several thousand wooden clocks per year, the Jeromes--and their principal imitators and rivals--were soon mass-producing brass clocks in the hundreds of thousands. For these brass clocks, Chauncey Jerome adopted a simple case introduced by several other New England clockmakers. The case became famous as the "Ogee" for its characteristic S-shaped moldings.
Unlike wooden clocks, brass movements were unaffected by humidity and could be transported by ship. The entire world, clockmakers quickly recognized, was a potential market. The reception Chauncey Jerome's clocks received in England, home of some of the world's finest clockmakers, illustrates the impact of his innovation. When the first clocks traveled arrived in 1842, valued at an improbable $1.50 each, English customs inspectors assumed that Jerome had set the figure far below cost to avoid paying the proper duties. To teach Jerome a lesson, the inspectors bought the whole shipment at the declared price. When a similar cargo at the same valuation arrived a few days later, they did the same. Only with the third shipment did they recognize that they were unwittingly becoming distributors for Yankee clock manufacturers. Jerome was content with the prices British customs agents had been paying him and would have happily supplied them indefinitely. From then on Jerome's clocks entered the English market unimpeded. Over the next twenty years, in part because of American competition, the British clock industry declined to near extinction.
1840 Thorp and Angell's Patent Model of a Loom Heddle
Angell, William G.
wire (heddle material)
twine (heddle material)
wood (frame material)
loom heddle patent model
United States: Rhode Island, Providence
Patent Models, Textile Machinery
Janssen, Barbara Suit. Patent Models Index
Loom Heddles Patent Model
Patent No. 1,498, issued on February 26, 1840
John Thorp and William G. Angell of Providence, Rhode Island
These heddles, both wire and twine, were exhibited in the Patent Office in a round wooden frame. In the patent specification, Thorp and Angell described the dimensions of heddles for use on a common power loom. A chain of the heddles was formed by taking two pieces of wire or twine and tying them with a common square knot, “which will unite them in the same way and manner that a lady ties her apron strings or a child his shoestrings.” The placement of the knots resulted in the formation of the eyes of the heddles, which raise and lower warp threads in weaving cloth.
Thorp and Angell did not include a patent drawing with the specification. The 1841 Journal of the Franklin Institute remarked of this omission: “We must suppose . . . that the description, although to us somewhat obscure, would be clear to a professional weaver.”
Humphries’s innovation was the addition of a supplementary layer to the bottom of a carpet to provide an extra cushion and to strengthen the overall structure. The added stuffer weft is a stout, loosely twisted cord, woven into the underside of the carpet and interlaced with the ground warp. These samples of carpeting are important because they are the earliest known examples of patented carpeting in the United States.
Whether this patent was utilized is unknown but there is evidence of Humphries being involved in the manufacture of carpeting. The Journal of the Franklin Institute lists premiums awarded at their eighth exhibition in 1833. John Humphries was presented a premium for four pieces of Brussels carpeting. The judges noted that “these goods are of excellent quality and style, and satisfactory assurances have been received that they are exclusively of American workmanship throughout all the processes from the raw material to the finished product of the loom.”
1837 Hartford and Tilton's Patent Model of a Loom Heddle
Tilton, William B.
wood (overall material)
metal (overall material)
loom heddle patent model
United States: New Hampshire, Enfield
Patent Models, Textile Machinery
Janssen, Barbara Suit. Patent Models Index
Loom Heddles and Harness Patent Model
Patent No. 544, issued December 29, 1837
Benjamin Hartford and William B. Tilton of Enfield, New Hampshire
Hartford and Tilton improved upon the construction of heddles (the mechanisms that raise and lower warp threads) by using strips of rolled flat metal with an eye punched through the middle of each strip to allow for the passage of warp yarns. Heddles were commonly constructed of cord. The replacement of metal for cord produced a more durable heddle. These one-piece metallic strips and the construction of the heddle frame were the basis of their patent. The heddles slid on two rods and were attached to adjustable clasps, permitting the heddles to correspond to the part of the reed (a comb-like device used to space the warp yarns evenly) that was in operation.
In his patent specification, Angell stated that “this temple is of the kind which holds the selvage of the cloth between jaws, which are opened by the beat of the lathe, and is in many respects similar to such as have been long in use.” He claimed, as his invention, the way in which the upper and lower jaws were connected by pins to form the hinge-joints.
On the original wrapper containing the patent application papers is a faint handwritten note “see Saml. P. Mason’s Temple July 1837.” In the process of checking Angell’s patent, Charles M. Keller, the patent examiner, probably wrote that notation but found no conflict with the Mason patent and thus granted Angell his patent.
Baldwin’s patent consisted of a steel spring and catch made in one piece that fits inside the wooden bobbin. In his patent specification, he claimed this avoided the expense of separate catches and springs that were in the common shuttle as then in use. The arrangement and construction of the spring and catch were such that pushing the bobbin down on the spindle and into the mouth of the shuttle secured the bobbin on the catch. By pulling up on the bobbin, the head of the spindle pushed down on the spring, which in turn disengaged the catch and released the bobbin. These improvements make it easier for the bobbin changer to replenish the shuttle with thread.
An earlier notice of Baldwin’s loom shuttle appears in the Journal of the American Institute. In 1838, at the eleventh Annual Fair of the American Institute, James and E. Baldwin were awarded a diploma for an improved loom shuttle. On May 3, 1859, James Baldwin was successful in having the shuttle awarded Reissue Patent No. 710.
In his Annual Report to the Congress of Patents for 1850, Commissioner Thomas Ewbank stated that 995 patents were issued. One of those patents was to Frederick R. Robinson for improvements to sewing machines. Robinson’s patent was used commercially by the firm of Howard & Davis of Boston to manufacture sewing machines. In addition to using Robinson’s patent, the machines they built utilized improvements patented by Sylvester H. Roper of Worcester, Massachusetts (Patent No. 11,521 issued on August 15, 1854) and with additional improvements (Patent No. 16,026 issued on November 4, 1856). Howard & Davis were best known for their manufacture of high-grade clocks and watches, although they also built fire engines and precision balances.
As Robinson stated, “The object of my invention is to produce either what is generally termed ‘stitch and back stitch’ sewing, or ordinary stitching.” He notes that this is frequently called the running stitch or basting stitch. His specific patent claim was “The combination of two needles, two thread-guides, and a cloth-holder made to operate together . . . and . . . the improvement of making the needles with springs and applying mouth-pieces or pressers to them, and on each side of the flange of the base-plate . . .”
Scientific American, November 1, 1856, describes the machine based on the patents mentioned above as: “Robinson & Roper exhibit their new improved sewing machines, which appear to operate with great success. Two needles are employed, the points of which are furnished with hooks that alternately catch the thread and form the stitch. The finest kind of cotton thread or silk can be used.”
Fairman’s improvements, consisting of an additional cam and a set of treadles, were applied to power looms in common use. His improvements allowed the harnesses to operate more smoothly and the warp to open, enabling the shuttle to pass more easily. The end result was that the loom was better suited to weaving either light or heavy fabrics. Six pages and three illustrations in Clinton Gilroy’s 1844 book, The Art of Weaving, are spent in describing Fairman’s patent. Gilroy commented that Fairman’s loom would probably work fine for simple weaves, but for fancy patterned work, requiring 10 to 100 heddle frames, it would be totally impractical.
On his sewing machine patent model, Christopher Hodgkins made sure his model was well identified. On the base, “Hodgkins” was painted in bold gold letters, and a brass bed plate was stamped “Christopher Hodgkins.” In his patent specification, Hodgkins wrote “My machine sews with two needles working through the cloth in opposite directions, and the one being made to cross the path of the other. It performs a lock-stitch, the loops made by each thread being locked in the cloth by those of the other.”
Hogkins assigned his patents (Patent No. 9,365, issued November 2, 1852; Patent No. 10,622, issued March 7, 1854; and Patent No. 10,879, issued May 9, 1854) to Nehemiah Hunt of Boston. In 1853, N. Hunt & Co. manufactured sewing machines based on Hodgkins’s patents. A year later, Hunt took a partner, and the company became Hunt and Webster.
Ballou’s Pictorial, July 5, 1856, featured Hunt and Webster in an article. The illustration depicted Hunt and Webster sewing machines in an elegant exhibition and showroom in Boston. They noted that “ . . . the North American Shoe Company have over fifty of the latest improved machines now running . . . .”
Hiram Wheeler’s domestic wheel was for spinning wool. He titled his invention “inclined spinner,” referring to the fact that the operator would sit at the wheel as opposed to standing and walking when using the typical wool wheel. When the treadle was forced down by the operator’s foot, a cord pulled the carriage and spinning wheel head away from the spinner. A weight brought both of them back toward the spinner. This movement of the carriage was equivalent to the spinner walking forward to the spindle tip for the draw out and then back to the wheel. Wheeler specifically claimed as his invention this sliding action of the wheel head.
John G. Bradeen notes in his patent specification that his sewing machine operates and forms a similar stitch to that of Frederick R. Roberson’s sewing machine of December 10, 1850 (Patent No. 7,824.) Roberson’s machine sewed with a running stitch or basting stitch.
The mechanisms of Bradeen’s patent model are mostly made of brass and the model sits on a simple wooden box. He furnished six pages of drawings depicting his improvements, whereas most sewing machine inventors limited their submissions to fewer drawings. Bradeen claims for his improvements “two rotating draft-hooks . . . separate from the needle, in combination with the two needles and two threads-guides; . . . the arrangement of each needle and its thread-guide, respectively, on opposite sides of the cloth . . . and the combination of the rocking thread-lifter or its equivalent with the needle and presser . . . .”
It is not known if any sewing machines were manufactured based on Bradeen’s patent.
William O. Grover and William E. Baker of Roxbury, Massachusetts
William O. Grover, a tailor working in Boston, believed that the sewing machine would transform the clothing industry. Seeing that the available sewing machines were not very practical, he began in 1849 to devise a different machine. He developed a new stitch that was made by interlocking two threads in a series of slipknots. Another Boston tailor, William E. Baker, shared Grover’s vision and became his partner in the project.
They received Patent No. 7,931 on February 11, 1851, for a double chain stitch made with two threads. The stitch was made using a vertical eye-pointed needle for the top thread and a horizontal needle for the under thread.
The Grover and Baker Sewing Machine Company was organized in 1851. Jacob Weatherill, mechanic, and Orlando B. Potter, lawyer, joined the firm. It was Potter who saw that the numerous lawsuits over patent rights were strangling the growth of the fledging sewing machine industry. In 1856, his work lead to the formation of the Sewing Machine Combination also called the Sewing Machine Trust. This organization consisted of three sewing machine manufacturers, I. M. Singer Co., Wheeler & Wilson Co., and the Grover & Baker Co., and the inventor, Elias Howe Jr., who all agreed to pool their important patents and stop patent litigation between them. This allowed them to move ahead with manufacturing and marketing of their own sewing machines and collecting license fees from other companies wanting to use their patents.
Otis Avery was born in Bridgewater, New York, on August 19, 1808. He learned the watchmaker’s trade from his father John, a silversmith and watchmaker. Otis opened a watch repair shop in Bethany, Pennsylvania, in 1827.
Later, he studied dentistry under a Dr. Ambler in New Berlin, New York, and received a dental certificate of qualification in 1833. In 1850, he settled in Honesdale, Pennsylvania, where he practiced dentistry until his death in 1904.
Avery was mechanically talented, making many of his own dental tools. He designed a self-cleaning cuspidor and devised improvements to a typesetting machine. On October 19, 1852, he received Patent No. 9,338 for improvements on a sewing machine. The chain stitch he used was enlarged on his patent drawing and he described it in the specification as “two threads having a double lock with each other, and in practice almost every alternate stitch may be cut or broken, and yet the material will not . . . ‘rip out.’” A common problem with the chain stitch was that it could easily be unraveled. His patent claims were for the working combination of needle-bars, spring-holders, and adjustable guides, which regulated the length of the stitch together with a weight for moving the cloth forward.
The catalogue for the 1853 New York Exhibition noted that three sewing machines were exhibited by the Avery Sewing Machine Co. of New York City. Each machine was adapted for sewing different materials, such as wool, muslin, linen, and leathers. He continued to improve his machine and received Patent No. 10,880, issued May 9, 1854, and Patent No. 22,007, issued November 9, 1856.
The second American patent (Patent No. 2,982) for a sewing machine was granted to Benjamin W. Bean on March 4, 1843. Bean’s machine made a running stitch by feeding the fabric between the teeth of a series of gears and onto a threaded bent needle. Turning the crank-handle from left to right moves the gearing in a similar motion to a crimping machine. The stationary crooked needle lays in a groove in the gears, with a point at one end and an eye at the other. A wooden screw clamp secures the machine to the worktable.
This invention was similar to Greenough’s in making a running stitch, but the approach was different. Bean’s method, like Greenough’s, was yet another attempt to emulate hand sewing. Although Bean’s running stitch machine had little commercial success, small inexpensive machines were later sold in the 1860s for household use based on this principle. It remained for Elias Howe, three years later, to patent a sewing machine using a lockstitch that functioned differently from the movements of hand sewing.
Wickersham exhibited his boot and leather sewing machine at the “New York Exhibition of the Industry of All Nations” in 1853. His address in the catalogue for the exhibition was listed as 20 Bulfinch Street, Boston.
In 1853 and 1854, Butterfield & Stevens Mfg. Co., of Boston.
Massachusetts, manufactured sewing machines based on his patent of April 19, 1853. In his patent specification, Wickersham wrote, “My machine for sewing cloth, leather, or other material is calculated to sew either a chain stitch (the formation of which is well understood) or a stitch . . . formed of two threads, and so that the loops of one . . . shall alternately pass through or be interlocked with those of the other . . . .” Although he mentions sewing cloth, it was for sewing leather for boots and shoes that his sewing machine became important. Wickersham’s patents introduced the method that allowed for the use of sewing leather with waxed thread. The development of mechanisms that would allow for sewing with wax thread was crucial to the industrialization of the shoe making industry.
Loom for Weaving Knotted Counterpanes Patent Model
Patent No. 546, issued January 6, 1838
Erastus B. Bigelow of West Boylston, Massachusetts
Erastus B. Bigelow primarily claimed the mechanism that raised the knots that formed the figures or patterns on the counterpane. His patent specification was lengthy, five pages of drawings and nine pages of written specifications.
In 1840, the editor of the Journal of the Franklin Institute wrote, “. . . the goods produced in this loom are of a quality very superior to such as are produced in the hand loom; at all events we have not met with any thing of the kind in the shops that will compare with them for texture, and for beauty and regularity of pattern. . . . We anticipate that at a very early day, American counterpanes will become as general as berths on board steamboats, and as beds at hotels. The articles are for sale in all our large cities, and as soon as there is a sufficient supply, will make their way into every part of the Union.”
Bigelow was a prolific inventor, patenting at least 33 loom improvements. In 1842 he revolutionized carpet manufacture by a series of inventions that made the carpet loom automatic. The automatic features enabled manufacturers to replace male weavers with less costly female weavers or boys. His inventions for the power weaving of Brussels, Jacquard, Ingrain, and Wilton carpet were quite successful. Before the mid-19th century, the importance of these inventions was recognized both in the United States and in Europe.
United States: Rhode Island, Rhode Island, Newport
Patent Models, Textile Machinery
Janssen, Barbara Suit. Patent Models Index
Self-Adjusting Loom Temple Patent Model
Patent No. 291, issued July 22, 1837
Samuel P. Mason of Newport, Rhode Island
Temples are attachments on looms designed to keep the cloth at a uniform width during weaving. Self-acting temples required no adjustment as the cloth was woven, for they automatically adjusted their position. The greater speed obtained with power weaving made the use of self-acting temples a necessity.
The basic construction of Mason’s temples was similar to others of the period. The patented feature of his temple concerned the arrangement of the parts by which the jaws or forceps were forced open and released their hold on the cloth.
Mason patented other useful textile machinery. Notable were an 1830 speeder for roving cotton (a speeder is a machine used in cotton yarn spinning that inserts a twist to the yarn and winds it on the bobbin) and a cotton whipper (a machine that separates clumps of cotton) in 1834. James Montgomery, in his 1840 edition of “Cotton manufacture of the United States Contrasted with that of Great Britain,” wrote that he considered the whipper the best, cheapest, and simplest that he had seen in factory use over a span of thirty years.
In 1842, John Greenough received the first American patent for a sewing machine. Greenough’s patent model used a needle with two points and an eye in the middle. To make a stitch, the needle would completely pass through the material by means of a pair of pinchers on either side of the seam. The pinchers traveled on a rack and opened and closed automatically. The needle was threaded with a length of thread, and required constant rethreading.
This type of sewing was classified as a short-thread machine. The machine was designed for sewing leather, and an awl preceded the needle to pierce a hole. The leather was held between clamps on a rack that could be moved, to produce a back stitch, or forward to make a shoemaker’s stitch. The material was fed automatically at a selected rate, according to the length of stitch desired. A weight drew out the thread, and a stop-motion shut down the machinery when a thread broke or became too short. Feed was continuous for the length of the rack-bar, and then it had to be set back. The turn of a crank set all motions to work. Greenough did not commercially manufacture his invention and his patent model remains as the only evidence.
He held several profitable patents for shoe-pegging machinery. He had many interests and his other patents included ones for plate glass; lampshades; looms; firearms; meters; propellers; gearing; hinges; power-transmitters; car steps; and a paper bag-making machine.
Greenough worked at the Patent Office from 1837 to 1841, supervising draftsmen who were restoring the patent drawings lost in the disastrous 1836 fire. Later he became an attorney working mostly on patent cases, and established a patent agency in New York City. In 1853, he was one of the founders of the American Polytechnic Journal, which published engravings of recent patents.
At the time of his patent, Charles Miller lived in St. Louis, Missouri, an uncommon choice of residence for a sewing machine inventor. Most of the inventors, and subsequent manufacturers, were located in the northeastern United States, particularly New York, Massachusetts, and Connecticut.
In his patent specification, Miller states: “This invention relates to that description of sewing-machine which forms the stitch by the interlacing of two threads, one of which is passed through the cloth in the form of a loop, and the other carried by a shuttle through the said loop.” His claim continues by stating: “It consists, first, in an improved stop-motion, or certain means of preventing the feed or movement of the cloth when by accident the thread breaks or catches in the seam; and, second, in certain means of sewing or making a stitch similar to what is termed in hand-sewing ‘the back stitch.”
According to Miller, his mechanism was different in that it passed the needle through the cloth in two places rather than in one, as was the case with other sewing machines of the time. His brass model is strikingly handsome, and engraved on the base of the model is “Charles Miller & J. A. Ross.” Usually when a second name is so prominently displayed on a model, it indicates a second inventor. However, no mention is made of Ross in the patent specification. Interestingly, Jonathan A. Ross turns up the following year at the 1853 New York Exhibition, exhibiting a sewing machine, and is listed in the catalogue as a sewing machine manufacturer from St. Louis, Missouri.
Miller is perhaps best known for an invention some two years later. It was the first sewing machine patented to stitch buttonholes (Patent No. 10,609, issued March 7, 1854). In his patent specification, Miller describes the three different stitches, “button-hole stitch, whip stitch or herring-bone stitch,” that can be mechanically sewn to finish the buttonhole.