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. 2,982 issued March 4, 1843
- Benjamin W. Bean of New York, New York
- 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.
- Currently not on view
- model constructed
- before 1843-03-04
- patent date
- Bean, Benjamin W.
- ID Number
- catalog number
- patent number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center