Patent Models: Textile and Sewing Machines
For much of the nineteenth century, inventors submitted a model with their patent application to the United States Patent Office. The National Museum of American History’s patent model collection began with the acquisition of 284 models from the Patent Office in June 1908, and reached more than 1,000 models by the end of that summer. In 1926, Congress decided to dispense with the stored collection of models and gave the Smithsonian Institution the opportunity to collect any models it wanted. Today, the Museum’s collection exceeds 10,000 patent models dating from 1836 to 1910.
The Museum’s Textile Collection contains over four thousand patent models. The collection includes many examples of carding machines, spinning machines, knitting machines, rope making machines, looms, baskets, carpets, fabrics, and sewing machines. Even the simple clothespin is well represented, with 41 patent models.
This sampling of patent models from the Textile Collection describes the two major groupings, textile machinery and sewing machines. In both groups, the examination of the models begins with the earliest of the inventions. In this early group of patent models, the textile machinery models date from 1837 to 1840, and the sewing machine models from 1842 to 1854.
For more information about the Museum’s patent model collection, see Patent Model Index, Guide to the Collections of the National Museum of American History.
"Patent Models: Textile and Sewing Machines - Introduction" showing 1 items.
- Sewing Machine Patent Model
- Patent No. 9,338, issued October 19, 1852
- Otis Avery of Honesdale, Pennsylvania
- 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.
- Currently not on view
- model constructed
- before 1852-10-19
- patent date
- Avery, Otis
- ID Number
- catalog number
- patent number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center