The first patent for the sewing machine was granted today in 1842 to John Greenough. Now WE know em

John Greenough’s patent model, 1842. (Smithsonian photo 45525-G.)

John Greenough’s patent model, 1842. (Smithsonian photo 45525-G.)

The first practical and widely used sewing machine was patented in France by Barthélemy Thimonnier, a French tailor, on July 17, 1830.

Toady, a model of Thimonnier’s machine is exhibited at the London Science Museum. The machine is made of wood and uses a barbed needle which passes downward through the cloth to grab the thread and pull it up to form a loop to be locked by the next loop.

The first American lockstitch sewing machine was invented by quaker Walter Hunt in 1832.

His machine made a lock stitch using two spools of thread and incorporated an eye-pointed needle (with the eye and the point on the same end) carrying the upper thread and a falling shuttle carrying the lower thread.

The curved needle moved through the fabric horizontally, leaving the loop as it withdrew. The shuttle passed through the loop, interlocking the thread. The feed let the machine down, requiring the machine to be stopped frequently and reset up.

Walter Hunt eventually lost interest in his machine because it could only produce short, straight, seams.

He sold it without even bothering to patent it.

Nine years later, John Greenough produced a working sewing machine in which the needle passed completely through the cloth.

Then on February 21, 1842, John Greenough patented his machine, becoming the first sewing machine patented in the United States.

Although a model was made and exhibited in the hope of raising capital for its manufacture, there were no takers.

It was not until all the essentials of a modern sewing machine came together in early 1844 when Englishman John Fisher invented his lace sewing machine.

Despite a further flurry of minor inventions in the 1840s, most Americans consider that the sewing machine was invented by Massachusetts farmer Elias Howe who also completed his first prototype in 1844.

Probably because of miss-filing at the patent office, this invention was overlooked during the long legal arguments between Elias Howe and Isaac Singer.

Now WE know em

 

See my article dated August 12, 2013

 

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