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. 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