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 for Weaving Knotted Counterpanes Patent Model
- Patent No. 546, issued January 6, 1838
- Erastus B. Bigelow of West Boylston, Massachusetts
- Erastus B. Bigelow primarily claimed the mechanism that raised the knots that formed the figures or patterns on the counterpane. His patent specification was lengthy, five pages of drawings and nine pages of written specifications.
- In 1840, the editor of the Journal of the Franklin Institute wrote, “. . . the goods produced in this loom are of a quality very superior to such as are produced in the hand loom; at all events we have not met with any thing of the kind in the shops that will compare with them for texture, and for beauty and regularity of pattern. . . . We anticipate that at a very early day, American counterpanes will become as general as berths on board steamboats, and as beds at hotels. The articles are for sale in all our large cities, and as soon as there is a sufficient supply, will make their way into every part of the Union.”
- Bigelow was a prolific inventor, patenting at least 33 loom improvements. In 1842 he revolutionized carpet manufacture by a series of inventions that made the carpet loom automatic. The automatic features enabled manufacturers to replace male weavers with less costly female weavers or boys. His inventions for the power weaving of Brussels, Jacquard, Ingrain, and Wilton carpet were quite successful. Before the mid-19th century, the importance of these inventions was recognized both in the United States and in Europe.
- Currently not on view
- model constructed
- before 1838-01-06
- patent date
- Bigelow, Erastus Brigham
- ID Number
- accession number
- catalog number
- patent number
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center