Saturday, May 9, 2015

page 67 -- Household Sewing Machine, Providence Tool Co., New Home Sewing Machine Co., Wheeler & Wilson

updated 21 August 2017
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Card added to Arnold Collection. Please let me know if you can decipher the printer's mark in the lower right corner. Thanks!
As can be seen below, there were sometimes distractions that made "working from home" more interesting in the 19th century...




The Household Sewing Machine

The Household Sewing machine, as can be seen from the trade card above, was made by the Providence Tool Co.

Now things get a bit complicated. For three years, but only three as far as I can see, they also made the Domestic Sewing Machine under contract with the Domestic Sewing Machine Company, as per this Google Books reference:



The Providence Tool Company did not limit itself to the production of sewing machines. It also prospered making rifles, many of which were made for the Union Army. Serving as President, Col. Richard Borden (b.1795 and, judging by the number of his accomplishments, apparently still alive today) oversaw years of prosperity. As the Google Books passage indicates below, Col. Bordon was a very busy fellow:

(Believe it or not, this is just an excerpt from a much longer list of achievements!)
Consult the source above for the complete story.
1858 Bill of Lading for shipment of merchandise by Providence Tool Co.

Carson Bros. & Co.?


Penfield & Weat was listed as a "Variety Store" in the Hartford County Directory of 1885. In addition to Household sewing machines, pianos, organs, "Picture Frames and Fancy Goods," they sold a series of stereoscope photos:

Penfield & West's Studies for the Stereoscope, Views of Bristol & vicinity from Digital Public Library



Information on the New Home Sewing Machine Company is on pages 184 and 190 of the Earl J. Arnold Advertising Card Collection. See Alex Askaroff's site for the best history of the New Home Sewing Machine Company.



The story of Wheeler & Wilson of Watertown and Bridgeport CT is on Wikipedia. However, on this story, Alex Askaroff has the last word. His "Sewalot" site is the best researched I have seen for those interested in antique sewing machines.

Wheeler & Wilson had one of the largest factories I've ever seen. Here's the picture illustrating the Wikipedia article:


In addition, a tour of the facility is presented on the ISMACS site: "A Tour of the Wheeler and Wilson Sewing Machine Factory," by D.A. Brumleve.

Google Street View captures a 2015 shot of the fountain given to the city of Bridgeport CT in honor of Nathaniel Wheeler, co-founder of Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company in 1912. The story of the fountain was related in the Society for Industrial Archeology Newsletter, v.43 no.1 Winter 2014. Follow the SIA Newsletter link to reveal its connection with Mount Rushmore!


The former Bridgeport Organ Company gives one a good idea of what the much larger Wheeler & Wilson factory may have looked like (Google Earth):


This old factory complex surely captures the feeling of manufacturing in the late 19th century.


For further discussion of the challenges and choices facing Bridgeport CT, I recommend Hugh Bailey's article in CTPost, Breaking Free of Industrial Wastelands.



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