Elias Howe patented the lock stitch sewing machine in 1846, although it wasn't until 1865 that he and the Stockwell brothers formed the Howe Machine Company and erected a factory at Bridgeport, Connecticut, U.S.A. In the first six months of 1871 the Company produced 34,010 machines and in 1876 it was reported that the factory could produce a 1000 machines a day.
By 1867 the Company had offices at 64 Regent Street, London later moving to 46/48 Queen Victoria Street, London (c1875) and at some point 150 Cheapside, London.
Elias Howe died in 1867 but the Company continued producing sewing machines and in 1872 established a factory at Avenue Street, Bridgetown, Scotland. The following year the Howe Machine Company bought out the "Howe Sewing Machine Company" which Amasa B. Howe (Elias's elder brother) had established in 1854.
The Howe Machine Company produced various models for both domestic and manufacturing purposes which were based on the firms original design. By 1876 a Letter 'D' industrial machine with combination arm for leather work was being produced. New conventionally designed models for domestic use were later introduced - a Family model and the Model 'G' with a high arm which appears to have been introduced in 1882.
In the early 1880's the Company's Bridgeton factory started producing bicycles and tricycles.
In Great Britain The Howe Machine Company Ld closed in 1887 and in December of that year the company's assets were offered for sale by tender as one lot. The company was sold to Firmin Mignot and Francois Fontaine who registered the company in Belgium.
In August 1890 the company was placed in Voulantry Liquidation and in January 1891 the New Howe Machine Company Ltd was formed. Initially producing both sewing machines and cycles but later it concentrated on manufacturing cycles. The Bridgeton factory finally closed in the Autumn of 1899.
In America the company closed earlier in 1886 and there were reports that the Company was to be re-established as "The New Howe Manufacturing Co" the intention was to start producing Family and Manufacturing machines together with parts for old style Howes by February 1887, whether this actually happened is unclear.
Howe Family: Serial No.1058964.
Dating to the late 1870's and produced in Scotland this treadle machine has "The Howe M Co Ld" cast into the treadle plate.
On the bed, is a medallion featuring a portrait of Elias Howe J.R., this was the Company's Trade Mark which according to the Company's literature "is embedded on every Genuine Howe Sewing Machine".
The slide plates are brass and have various patent dates listed, the earliest being Sept 10 1846 and the last one being Jan 30 1872.
The balance wheel is set into the table and operates a primitive bobbin winder mounted on the bed of the machine (Early models have the bobbin winder mounted under the table!).
There is a small swivel drawer with recessed pull at one end of the table but the machine does not have a cover nor any fittings for one, despite this the decals though slightly worn are in good condition.
Howe: Serial No.1403840.
Produced in Scotland around 1882 this machine has the Howe Medallion inset on the bed behind the pillar and the Howe M Co Ld cast into the balance wheel.
The brass slide plates have the same patent dates listed as for the above machine.