The 50,000 objects in the textile collections fall into two main categories: raw fibers, yarns, and fabrics, and machines, tools, and other textile technology. Shawls, coverlets, samplers, laces, linens, synthetics, and other fabrics are part of the first group, along with the 400 quilts in the National Quilt Collection. Some of the Museum's most popular artifacts, such as the Star-Spangled Banner and the gowns of the first ladies, have an obvious textile connection.
The machinery and tools include spinning wheels, sewing machines, thimbles, needlework tools, looms, and an invention that changed the course of American agriculture and society. A model of Eli Whitney's cotton gin, made by the inventor in the early 1800s, shows the workings of a machine that helped make cotton plantations profitable in the South and encouraged the spread of slavery.
"Textiles - Overview" showing 1 items.
- 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.”
- Currently not on view
- model constructed
- before 1840-02-26
- patent date
- Thorp, John
- Angell, William G.
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- patent number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center