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1838 - Alden Sibley's Patent Model of a Calico Printing Machine

1838 - Alden Sibley's Patent Model of a Calico Printing Machine

Calico Printing Machine Patent Model
Patent No. 823, issued on July 9, 1838
Alden Sibley of Pawtucket, Massachusetts
Sibley’s improvement concerned the arrangement of the color box, which held the coloring matter used in printing; the furnishing roll, which supplied the coloring matter to the printing roll; and the doctor, which acted as a scraper to remove any superfluous color from the cylinder. In his patent specification, Sibley stated that the advantage of his machine was “being able to work as heavy an Engraving, last as first, or second, and by which means you can place the Light, delicate colors, first and Black or Chocolate last or as you please.” His patent model shows only one engraved copper roller although the machine was designed to do three- or four-color work with multiple rollers.
Sibley recommended using flour instead of gum to thicken the coloring matter. He calculated that to print 175 pieces, it was necessary to use 42 pounds of gum senegal at 22 cents a pound, which added up to $9.24; whereas 42 pounds of flour cost only 5 cents a pound, for a sum of $2.10. That totaled up to a savings of $7.14 if the flour was used. Whether the use of flour was ever adopted is not known.
By 1836, textile mills in the United States had printed 120 million yards of calicoes. Calico printing was popular among manufacturers largely due to the fact that the printing only added one step to the finishing process and did not affect or complicate the weaving process.
Currently not on view
Object Name
calico printing machine patent model
Object Type
Patent Model
model constructed
before 1838-07-09
patent date
Sibley, Alden
place made
United States: Rhode Island, Pawtucket
Physical Description
metal (overall material)
ferrous; brass; wood; copper (overall material)
overall: 18 1/2 in x 13 7/8 in x 14 in; 46.99 cm x 35.2425 cm x 35.56 cm
overall: 18 1/2 in x 16 in x 17 in; 46.99 cm x 40.64 cm x 43.18 cm
ID Number
catalog number
patent number
accession number
Patent Models
See more items in
Cultural and Community Life: Textiles
Patent Models
Patent Models, Textile Machinery
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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