Nathaniel Wheeler and Allen B. Wilson established the Wheeler & Wilson Company in Water Town Connecticut in 1852, A. B. Wilson had patented the rotary hook in the previous year and also patented the four motion feed in 1854.
Having produced about 3000 machines the Company moved to Bridgeport in 1856 and became known as the Wheeler and Wilson Manufacturing Company. By 1858 a total of only 20,000 machines had been produced but then production expanded rapidly and in 1861 the Company sold 19,725, 30,000 in 1862 and in 1865 some 50,000 were manufactured, production continued to increase and in 1871 yearly production reached 128,526 machines of various types. Production in 1876 fell to 109,000 machines.
The factory occupied a 2 acre site and by 1863 had a floor area of 5 acres. An office was opened in England in 1859 at 13 Finsbury Place, London. By 1861 offices & showrooms on 139 Regent Street, London (having previously been at 402 Oxford Street, London) c1878 the Chief Office was at 21 Queen Victoria Street E.C. and in 1880 there were 26 other Depots in Great Britain. By 1897 the Chief Office was at 11 to 21 Paul Street, Finsbury, London.
The Company won a number of international awards, including at the Industrial Exposition, Paris 1861, International Exhibition London 1862, Exposition Universalle, Paris 1868, 1878 and 1889.
In 1904 Singer took over the retailing of Wheeler and Wilson sewing machines and aquired the remainer of the business in January 1907.
In 1866 the Company's range of machines consisted of:
No. 1 machine. The top of the range with silver plated fittings and available in a range of 11 different styles of cabinet work in Rosewood, Black Walnut or Mahogany.
No. 2 machine. With ornamental bronze fittings, there were only 3 standard styles of cabinet work although others could be supplied to order. The choice of woods was reduced to Black Walnut or Mahogany.
No. 3 machine The basic machine with plain fittings again a choice of 3 styles of cabinet work from the two woods previously mentioned.
No. 4 machine. Referred to as 'Large' it was only available in a standard table of either Black Walnut or Mahogany.
No. 5 machine. - 1887 Specially designed for shirt making or other work involving sewing sleeves. It was available with double motion at extra cost and only one style of table was available in either Black Walnut or Mahogany.
Button hole machine. Capable of making 100 button holes in an hour.
In 1876 following the replacement of curved needle machines by those using a straight needle the company used some of the same model numbers so for example the No.6 curved needle machine was designated the New No.6 straight needle machine
Other machines produced later by the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company were:
No. 6 Bed & Cylinder machine introduced in 1872 - c1887 For Special Work.
No. 7 machine 1876 - 1887 For Heavy Tailoring and Leather work
No. 8 machine 1876 - c1887. The No. 8 was designed for Family use & Light Manufacturing. It seems likely that production of the No. 8 machine ceased when the No. 9 machine was introduced.
No. 9 machine 1887 - 1995. Designed for Family use with its high arm it was advertised as 'The Only Perfect Sewing Machine for Family Use'. No. 9 machines use the same bobbin and mechanism as the No. 8.
D9 introduced in 1895 as improved version of the No.9 using the mechanism of the No. 11 manufacturing machine. Externally the most obvious difference between the No.9 and D9 was that the hand appliance was more compact. After Singers take over of the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company the D9 was made under the Singer brand name as the 9W until at least 1913.
No. 10 machine introduced in 1880 For General Manufacturing, Leather work and Tailoring. In 1887 a new D10 machine was available.
No. 11 machine introduced in Oct 1892 - 1897 Medium for clothing manufacture.
No. 12 machine Jan 1888 - 1897 with seam trimer for leather, upholstery & clothing.
No. 15 c1897 - c1902 machine for tailoring uphostery & carpets.
Meteor c1908 Produced after the Company had been bought out by Singer a surviving instruction booklet for this machine clearly displays the Wheeler & Wilson logo and the date March 1908.