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.
- 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