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Sewing Machine Museum
Albrecht Mey Collection

We will be open for you again after a telephon registration from 14 June 2021. After this long break, we are very pleased to welcome you back to the Sewing Machine Museum.


Starting in 1790, sewing machines were developed and produced in different countries.

Thomas Saint sewing machine, reconstruction | mey®

1790

Thomas Saint

London/England


The original version of this first ‘sewing’ machine from 1790 no longer exits. It was reconstructed in 1874 based on patent drawings that were found, built by the Englishman Newton Wilson, and can now be seen at the Science Museum in South Kensington in London.

The machine shown here was faithfully replicated by our engineers Richard Nufer and Thomas Rückauf. The wooden components were made by the Stingel carpenters workshop in Albstadt-Ebingen. The machine is in working condition.

1800

Balthasar Krems

Mayen/Rhineland

 

Pointed caps and liberty caps could be sewn with this machine, which in its day was technically quite an accomplished chainstitch sewing machine. The crank-controlled needle bar, continuous fabric conveyance via a spiked wheel and further details are characteristic of special sewing machines, some of which are still in use today. 

What makes this machine unique is the specifically devised needle with an eye at its pointed end. This needle design is what made the subsequent invention of the lockstitch sewing machine possible.

Balthasar Krems sewing machine, reconstruction | mey®
Josef Georg Madersperger sewing machine | mey®

1814

Joseph Georg Madersperger

The ‘sewing hand’ from Austria.

 

This machine was able to sew a stitch similar to a knotted double lockstitch thanks to its eye-pointed needle. The sewing hand sews from the bottom up with the fabric stretched over the machine in a frame and the needles stitching through it from below.

Unfortunately, the invention did not bring him any economic success. Madersperger died alone at nearly 83 years of age in a poorhouse in St Marx near Vienna.

1831

Thimonnier

France

 

This machine made it possible to sew as many as 200 chainstitches a minute. It was equipped with a barbed needle connected to a needle bar that was moved up and down with a treadle.

He registered a patent for the machine and built approximately 80 sewing machines in Paris, which were used in military workshops. French tailors feared this would lead to their unemployment, which is why they destroyed Thimonnier’s workshop.

Thimonnier sewing machine | mey®
Elias Howe sewing machine | mey®

1846

Elias Howe

The pictured machine is a faithful reproduction of the world’s first functioning double lockstitch sewing machine.

1853

Wilson Watertown

USA

 

This is the first machine with a rotary hook, which only later became a success. In today’s domestic sewing machines, this part is called a bobbin.

Wilson Watertown sewing machine | mey®
Thomas sewing machine | mey®

1854

Thomas

England

 

One of the first free arm sewing machines, which made it possible to easily sew tubular pieces of cloth, such as closed sleeves.

1855

Singer No. 1

USA

 

The archetype of the modern sewing machine. Singer, who had German roots, was born in America.

The first Singer sewing machine is in the possession of Roni Schmid in Switzerland.

Singer No. 1 sewing machine | mey®

1857

Lathbury, A. B. Buell sewing machine | mey®

Lathbury, A. B. Buell

USA

Grover & Baker sewing machine | mey®

Grover & Baker

USA

A portable machine that tailors could use to make house calls.

Gibbs & Jonson sewing machine | mey®

Gibbs & Jonson

USA

Platz & Rexrodt sewing machine | mey®

Platz & Rexrodt

France

They were among the first sewing machine manufacturers in France.

1860

Foliage sewing machine | mey®

Foliage

USA

This machine is made entirely of brass and has a curved needle.

Watson sewing machine | mey®

Watson

USA

This machine is a very rare piece and can sew a chainstitch.

William & Orvis No. 1 sewing machine | mey®

William & Orvis No. 1

USA

This machine also sews a chainstitch (single thread) and has no lower thread.

1861

New England

USA

 

This machine was built in the USA, but unfortunately the manufacturer is unknown.

New England sewing machine | mey®

1862

Weed sewing machine | mey®

Weed

USA

Tailor’s sewing machine, only two of which are known to exist. One of these is on display at our museum.

Wight & Mann sewing machine | mey®

Whight & Mann

England

George Whight invented this machine and had it patented on 12 October 1861.

Pfaff No. 1 sewing machine | mey®

Pfaff No. 1

Germany

Pfaff was originally a brass instrument maker and built this heavy and sturdy long-shuttle sewing machine, which sews a double lockstitch.

Stebbins sewing machine | mey®

Stebbins

USA

Stebbins wanted to support the Union during the Civil War and came up with the idea of sewing undergarments and other articles of clothing for soldiers. He built this sewing machine for that purpose.

1863

Madame Demorest sewing machine | mey®

Madame Demorest

USA

This is a running stitch sewing machine.

Opel No. 1 sewing machine | mey®

Opel No. 1

Germany

This is not the very first Opel sewing machine, but is a sewing machine from the first series made by Opel.

Shaw & Clark Monitor sewing machine | mey®

Shaw & Clark Monitor

USA

There are five different versions of the towers for this machine: the open tower, closed tower, thick tower, thin tower and the hydrant. This was a distinctive feature of Shaw & Clark.

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