A sewing machine shrouded in legend
Mr. Carlos Stebbins from Pike in New York State (USA) was an all-round genius. In addition to painting, he also ran an iron foundry.
When the Civil War broke out in the USA (1860-1865), Stebbins turned his thoughts to how he could support the troops in the Union. He came up with the idea of sewing undergarments and other articles of clothing for soldiers. To do so, he constructed a sewing machine, applied for a patent and produced a small number of units. Having his own iron foundry significantly facilitated the undertaking.
According to legend, he is said to have hired 17 young women to run the sewing machines. After the war ended successfully for the Union, he closed his ‘manufacturing plant’ and gave the 17 machines to his seamstresses. The only machine that is still known to exist today can be seen here in our exhibition.
Stebbins subsequently improved his sewing machine, registered two more patents and once again produced just a small quantity. A patent document from this second series is also showcased here.