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. 6439, issued May 8, 1849
- John Bachelder of Boston, Massachusetts
- John Bachelder of Boston, Massachusetts, submitted this sewing machine patent model for his Patent No. 6439, which was granted on May 8, 1849. Bachelder’s machine sewed with a chain-stitch. He did not claim this chain-stitch mechanism as it was patented earlier in February in 1849 by Charles Morey and Joseph B. Johnson of Massachusetts. Instead he focused on improving the cloth feed. On this model, Bachelder used a wide continuous leather belt inserted with sharp pins to hold the cloth and enable the leather belt to move the cloth forward as it was being sewn. After being stitched, the fabric would be disengaged from the points by a curved piece of metal. This was the first patent for a continuous sewing, intermittent feeding mechanism.
- Although Bachelder did not manufacture his sewing machine, his patent and later reissues of it were bought by I. M. Singer, and became one of the central patents to form the Sewing Machine Combination in 1856. 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 litigations between them. This allowed them to move ahead with manufacturing and marketing of their own sewing machine and collect license fees from other companies wanting to use their patents.
- Currently not on view
- model constructed
- before 1849-05-08
- patent date
- Bachelder, John
- ID Number
- catalog number
- patent number
- accession number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center