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Sewing MachinesHistorical TradeLiterature inSmithsonian InstitutionCollectionsSmithsonian Institution Libraries

Sewing MachinesHistorical TradeLiterature inSmithsonian InstitutionCollectionsA SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION LIBRARIESPUBLICATIONWashington, DC2001

2001 Smithsonian InstitutionLibrary of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication DataSmithsonian Institution.Sewing machines : historical trade literature in Smithsonian Institution collections.p. cm.Includes bibliographical references and index.1. Sewing-machines—United States—History—Bibliography.2. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries—Catalogs.I. Smithsonian Institution. Libraries. II. Title.Z5853.M2 S55 2001016.026'6462044'0973—dc212001000621This booklet was prepared and published by the Smithsonian Institution LibrariesFunding for the design and printing of the booklet was provided by the Lemelson Centerfor the Study of Invention and Innovation, National Museum of American History,Behring Center, Smithsonian InstitutionDesign by Stephanie Firestone DesignPhotography by the Smithsonian Office of Imaging, Printing, and Photographic Services The paper used in this publication meets the minimum requirements of the American NationalStandard for Permanence of Paper for Printed Library Materials Z39.48-1984.Image identification. Cover: The Ross, Moyer Manufacturing Co.[n.d.]. Below, TheStandard Sewing Machine Co., (1895). Back cover: New Priscilla Sewing Machines.Priscilla Needlework Co. [n.d.]. Below, List of Parts. Singer Manufacturing Co. (1923).Title page: The Howe Sewing Machine Co. [n.d.], p. 12. Below: “The First PracticalSewing Machine – 1851.” Machine Sewing. A Treatise on the Care and Use of FamilySewing Machines and their Attachments. Singer Sewing Machine Co. (1938)

Sewing MachinesHistorical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Institution CollectionsCONTENTSiiForewordby Nancy E. Gwinniv“To the Trade ” The Trade Catalog Collection at theSmithsonian Institution Librariesby Rhoda S. RatnerviThe Textile Collection at the Smithsonian’s National Museum ofAmerican History, Behring Centerby Barbara Suit JanssenviiiThe Archives Center Collections at the Smithsonian’s NationalMuseum of American History, Behring Centerby John FlecknerixNotes on StylexAccess to the CollectionsxGlossary1Sewing Machines. Historical Trade Literature in SmithsonianInstitution Collections45Bibliographyby Barbara Suit Janssen47IndexManual of Athletic UnderwearManufacture. Union SpecialMachine Co. (1921), p. 33

ForewordThis guide illustrates the range of materials published by and about sewingmachine companies in the United States and other countries, starting in the1840s. Sewing machine catalogs and other industry materials are just oneportion of the remarkable collections of manufacturers’ trade literature heldin the libraries, archives and curatorial units of the Smithsonian Institution. The tradeliterature collection managed by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries (SIL) alonenumbers some 285,000 pieces published since the mid-nineteenth century andrepresenting 30,000 American companies. The Smithsonian Libraries is a 22-branchsystem serving the information and research needs of the Institution’s staff and thegeneral public.The Smithsonian collects trade literature for use by staff who are entrusted with thecare and study of manufactured objects now in the collections of the nationalmuseums. This guide to sewing machine literature includes materials held in threeseparate collections: in SIL’s Library in the National Museum of American History,Behring Center, and in the Museum’s Archives Center and in its Textiles Collection.The sewing machine project illustrates the collaborative efforts of Smithsonian staff toprovide relevant and useful information to the public as well as to the museum andresearch communities. This guide will be of interest to sewing machine collectors aswell as to historians, and the curatorial and program staff within the SmithsonianInstitution. We thank Barbara Suit Janssen of the Museum’s Textile Collection andJohn Fleckner, Director of the Museum’s Archives Center, for their cooperation withthis project. Ms. Janssen prepared the Bibliography that appears in the guide.A finding aid to these sewing machine literature collections including scannedimages of many of the texts can be viewed at /sewing-machines/. It is a work in progress which will continue to grow,providing extensive details about the three collections. The website will eventuallyprovide information on more than 3,000 items with many thousands of images. Fulldescriptions of each of the pieces of trade literature are given in the Libraries’ catalogat www.siris.si.edu (Smithsonian Institution Research Information System). Funding forthe scanning was provided by the Smithsonian Institution Image Archive Fund.The reader is cautioned to read the Notes on Style very carefully. The text of thisguide is based on information found on the pieces themselves and in availablepublished resources. This guide directs the reader only to materials which are in theSmithsonian collections.Many heads and hands contributed to this project, gathering the materials, sortingand classifying them, scanning and cataloging them, and preparing the text and indexin this printed guide. The project was conceptualized by Amy Begg DeGroff, ReferenceLibrarian in SIL’s American History Library, and she contributed her ideas and manyhours of work in organizing and describing the materials. Rhoda S. Ratner, head of theiiSewing Machines

History and Culture Department of the Libraries, and head of the American HistoryLibrary, completed coordination of the materials presented in this print guide.Nancy L. Matthews managed the production of this publication. In the Libraries’Information Systems Division, Martin R. Kalfatovic served as coordinator of theonline project. Courtney S. Danforth oversaw the online design process. InternsChristine Winkler and JohnLee Curtis and volunteer Betty Spungen assisted inassembling and describing the materials. Volunteer Kristina Santilla, a sewingmachine collector herself, helped with several stages of the project. Staff of theLibraries’ Preservation Services Department, headed by Susan R. Frampton, scannedthe images that can be seen online. David Holbert managed the production side ofthe scanning project, and Shawn Adams and Nicholas Worthy contributed to thatwork. In the Libraries’ Cataloging Services Department, Suzanne C. Pilsk coordinatedthe cataloging and metadata collection efforts. Other Libraries’ staff who contributedto the project are Maureen Daley who coordinated the photography for the printguide and Kari Richardson and Gwen Leighty who helped to prepare the fundingproposal to the Lemelson Fund. Mario Rups proofread the text and the index, andSavannah R. Schroll assisted with production responsibilities. This guide wasdesigned by Stephanie Firestone.We are grateful to the Jerome and Dorothy Lemelson Center for the Study ofInvention and Innovation for funds to publish this guide to a fascinating portion ofSmithsonian Institution collections.Nancy E. Gwinn, DirectorSmithsonian Institution LibrariesFebruary 2001Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Institution Collectionsiii

To the Trade The Trade Catalog Collection in the Smithsonian LibrariesIf you were to consider the words ‘book’ or ‘magazine,’ there are few among uswho would not have an image in mind of what these are. This is not necessarilytrue of the term ‘trade catalog,’ the name applied to commercial trade literature.As it is most often defined, the trade catalog is a multi-page listing ofmanufactured or produced items of any kind offered for sale by stock number orspecific name. These include sale and parts catalogs, technical manuals, companyhistories, instructions for using the product, testimonials from satisfied customers,pattern books, design books, price lists, and internal factory record books. The earliestcatalogs were directed ‘to the trade,’ meaning wholesalers and retailers. Today manytrade catalogs are published for the ultimate consumer as well as for the sales andrepair industries.The trade catalog developed as a result of and along with the industrial revolution.By the second half of the eighteenth century, the growing factory system enabledworkers to do twice to ten times the work of a single individual. Production rose,leading manufacturers to substantially increase their market territory to stimulatedemand. The trade catalog became a critical means by which the resulting demandwas met.Trade literature is a primary historical record of innovations in machinery andindustrial processes, in new techniques introduced for merchandising, and of othereconomic data relating to energy, manpower, and finance. The research value of thesecatalogs to the history of business, labor, and technology has only recently been fullyrecognized. The catalogs form both a by-product of and an index to industrializationand mass production.The range of research possible in these materials is enormous. A researcher cantrace a patent dream to reality. Outstanding authors and historians often wrote thecopy, and accomplished artists and engravers provided the woodcuts and lithographs.Manufactured objects, including products that no longer exist, are fully documentedas to size, materials, and operation, providing invaluable information to museumcuratorial staff and collectors. Illustrations of the workplace may display laborconditions or manufacturing procedures and perhaps the function of tools. The itemsoffered for sale are of special interest to those doing historical preservation orre-creations of interiors as indicators of cultural values and perceptions of status atthat time. The history of technology and industry as they evolved emerges from abroad study of this literature. Throughout, trade catalogs reveal the shift of theconsumer base from the privileged few to the general population, which productswere commercially successful and which disappeared from the market, and the spreadof innovations and techniques to different cities and regions.ivSewing Machines

Lawrence Romaine, a collector and dealer in trade catalogs, was the first todocument and champion the trade catalog in the United States. In his 1960 book,A Guide to American Trade Catalogs, 1744 – 1900, he wrote, “It is high time thatsomeone compiled and printed a record proving that Americans recognized the value ofadvertising catalogs and the mail order business even before they recognized the realvalue of freedom. There are ten thousand volumes that tell and retell the story of theAmerican Revolution. I offer one that will, without bloodshed, convince you of thecreative ability, imagination and Yankee ingenuity of the builders of this Republicthroughout the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.”The Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ collection of historical trade catalogscontains over 285,000 items representing approximately 30,000 companies datingfrom both the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It is the largest collection of its kindin the United States and encompasses the full range of products—from porcelaindinnerware to pipe fittings, seed catalogs to tractors, automobiles to medicalequipment. This is one more national treasure being protected, preserved, and madeaccessible by the Smithsonian Institution Libraries. It is our hope that this guide to onesmall segment of Smithsonian Institution Libraries’ trade literature collection will forma catalyst to others in the goals of preservation, access to researchers, and recognitionof a rich source for historical research.Rhoda S. RatnerHead, History and Culture DepartmentSmithsonian Institution LibrariesOctober 2000Historical Trade Literature in Smithsonian Institution Collectionsv

The Textile Collectionat the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History, Behring CenterSewing machines, along with firearms, clocks, and agricultural machinery, playeda major role in developing nineteenth-century American industry. When historymuseums focus on the evolution of American technology, sewing machines serveas primary evidence in this study. Sewing machines were originally collected bySmithsonian Institution curators because of this importance to the early history oftechnology. Increasing interest in design, material culture, social and cultural history,economic history, labor history, technical communication, and advertising closelyrelates to the sewing machine industry and ensures that sewing machines will continueto be researched and explored.During the nineteenth century, the United States Patent Office Museum of Modelsexhibited models of patents that had been granted. Ultimately, the number of modelson display reached 150,000 and in 1926 Congress decided that the models shouldbe dispersed. The Smithsonian was given the first chance to select models for thenational collection, a responsibility shared by Museum curators Frederick Lewton andCarl Mitman. Fortunately for the Textile Collection, Lewton collected heavily in textilemanufacturing, particularly sewing machines.A major acquisition from the Singer Company in 1960 included many importantpatent models of sewing machines and attachments. Some recent accessions includeMrs. Tom Thumb’s sewing machine; Watson’s Family Sewing Machine, about 1850;an 1855 American Eagle Sewing Machine (cast in the shape of an eagle); and acollection of Singer Industrial Design Prototypes from the 1940s to the 1970s. TheNational Museum of American History sewing machine collection currently numbersapproximately 750 sewing machine patent models, 750 sewing machine attachmentmodels (tuckers, guides, buttonholers, etc.), and about 250 commercial, family, treadle,cabinet, electric, and toy sewing machines. The dates range from 1842 through 1976.Early research based on the Textile Collection of sewing machines and modelsbegan with The Servant in t