Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Singer Sewing Machines

Location:   The Lower East Side
Year:   1856

Isaac M. Singer, born in Pittstown, New York  and living in Otsego, New York invented the first workable sewing machine in 1856. Besides being an inventor and an entrepeneur, Singer was also a roue who fathered at least 24 children. Eventually he settled in England to dodge paying for his numerous American offspring.

There were numerous such machines and numerous inventors working on such machines at the time. Singer arranged for the world's first "patent pool," allowing each inventor to contribute their best idea to the machine ultimately designed. The first Singer factory was on Mott Street in lower Manhattan. In its first year, I.M. Singer Company produced 2,600 machines. In 1860, it produced 13,000. 

Due to the Union's need for uniforms, and the Union Army's introduction of standard sizes, the need for machines mushroomed during the Civil War (and while the tailors of the Lower East Side were making Union uniforms from bolts of blue cloth, they were also making Confederate uniforms from bolts of gray cloth in the same rooms). I.M. Singer became the preeminent name in sewing machines, a distinction it still holds.  

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