Object Record

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Object Name Machine, Sewing
Date 1896 ca
Description Console sewing machine by Willcox & Gibbs. Walnut console/cabinet with three small drawers on the right, with built-in-sewing machine. Wrought iron stand and pedal below. Very similar to sewing machine #1976.1.1375.1a.

This is one of two identical sewing machines that were used by the servants at Blithewold to sew household linens, to repair and alter the family's clothing, and to make simple summer shifts for young Augustine. The machines were made by Willcox & Gibbs who patented their first sewing machine in 1857, and engaged the Providence firm of Brown and Sharpe to produce the machines. They were very high quality chain-stitch sewing machines that differed from the competition (Singer) in that they used a single thread instead of two. They were considered masterpieces of Victorian engineering, and when the Civil War broke out in 1861 Willcox & Gibbs machines were used to sew soldiers' uniforms. The loose chain-stitch was particularly well-suited to sewing through the thick woolen cloth, the seams offering better ease of movement than the traditional straight-stitch. They quickly became one of the most successful sewing machines in history. The Blithewold machines, complete with their original attachments, are in working order and date from around 1896.
Maker's Information From left to right on metal sewing surface, three sections of maker's information appear. Section 1: "PATENTED IN U.S.A./ MAR 28-82, APRIL 17-83 (two) / NOV 22-87, FEB 12, 19, 26-89/ AUG 28-94 (THREE)" In section 2: "WILCOX & GIBBS / SEWING MACHINE CO. / NEW YORK / LONDON / PARIS" In section 3: PATENTED IN/ GREAT BRITAIN/ 1502-82, 1931-83 / 17076-88, 16835-94/ S.G.D.G. / MADE IN U.S.A.
Material Metal/Wood/Fabric/Stain
Dimensions H-39.5 W-16.25 L-28.625 inches
Condition Good
Catalog Number 1976.1.1386a
Search Terms Sewing Room