12 August 2016
Isaac Singer patented his Singer sewing machine on 12 August 1851
On this day in history, 1851: Isaac Singer patented his Singer sewing machine. Pride and joy of many of our foremothers, the Singer sewing machine went on to transform their domestic sewing scene. In the days before ready-to-wear, the requirement to clothe a family meant that sewing skills were a home-making necessity. Singer’s machines were popular both as they were extremely usable and also because he introduced a payment scheme – so that you could buy them on spec.
This advert dating from the Shoreditch Observer (from the British Library newspaper collection available via Findmypast.co.uk) gives a fascinating bunch of facts about the status of the Singer sewing machine as seen through contemporary eyes. Technologically there are hand and treadle options; by 1885, the date of the advert, approaching 6 million machines have been sold worldwide; we have their price £4 4s (and the note that they can be hired weekly). It’s worth noting that the average weekly wage of an agricultural labourer at the time was 13s 5 ½ d (according to the history of wages blog - http://historyofwages.blogspot.co.uk/2011/02/agricultural-labourers-wages-1850-1914.html.
Do you have a Singer sewing machine? Perhaps one handed down by a seamstress ancestor? Treasure it carefully!