In the last century, almost every family had a sewing machine, and for the most part, it was Singer units. They were distinguished by ease of use and maintenance, incredible reliability, and at the same time, financial accessibility, allowing you to make things almost industrial-looking.
However, Isaac Merritt Singer, the creator of this miracle machine, became famous for other inventions. Today, we will tell you about his career, preferences, and juicy personal life details.
Son of migrants
At the end of October 1811, Isaac Merritt Singer was born in the small town of Pittstown near New York. His family could not be called rich – the parents of the future self-taught inventor were migrants. Since they had the surname Reisinger before moving, some biographers suggest that their previous place of residence was Germany, the historical area of the Palatinate.
In addition to Isaac, they had seven other children. But the father, Adam Singer, did not get along with his wife, and eventually, they divorced. 10-year-old Isaac had to move to Hannibal, where his father settled with his new wife.
The boy’s childhood ended early – at the age of twelve, he ran away with a theater troupe, as the relationship with his stepmother did not work out. He had to play in a traveling theater to earn a living. Jokingly, he was called the best Richard of his time, but one of those critics did not speak flatteringly about his game.
Isaac Merritt singer invention
Before coming up with anything meaningful, Isaac Singer tried many professions. He had to work as a carpenter and a turner. In 1839, as a 28-year-old man, he presented his first invention to the patent office – a stone drill. The novelty was checked out, and Isaac was able to make good money by transferring a patent of one of the construction companies for $2,000 (about 50 thousand at the current exchange rate).
The newly-made rich man decided to spend money on his childhood dream. He gathered like-minded people and headed a theater group, giving it the name “Merritt Players”. For five years, he wandered the expanses of America. Nothing is known about the success of this event, but for sure, the financial situation eventually got holes, as Isaac Singer started looking for ideas again.
The next device invented was the machine for cutting wood and metal. However, in the future, Isaac was disappointed: the current problems and the almost failure of the project. The inventor, together with a financial partner named Sieber, engaged in the physical embodiment of the drawings of the machine. However, when almost all the work was done, an explosion occurred in the garage where the design work was being carried out, and their car was broken.
The company was not discouraged: according to a colleague, the owner of a large Boston store, Orson Phelps, could appreciate the idea. Unfortunately, the entrepreneur did not find any special prospects in the wood and metal cutting machine. But he came up with an idea: Lerow & Blodgett sewing machines are in massive demand, but too many of them are accumulated in the warehouse waiting for repairs.
From the idea to I.M.Singer sewing machines & Co
The inquisitive mind of Isaac Singer figured out how to simplify the assembly scheme of sewing machines and make it easier to work with them. Instead of the vertical arrangement of the shuttle, he proposed a horizontal one, which solved the problem of tangling threads.
The needle holder leg helped to make a continuous seam, and the fabric table allowed the seamstresses to conveniently position and hold the product with both hands. In addition, Singer equipped the machine with a foot drive, which freed his hands from the need to work. It would seem that there are only three innovations, but what! Labor productivity has increased significantly.
Isaac Singer hastened to get a patent for his invention. It was issued, but the moment of mass production of updated sewing machines was postponed indefinitely. The fact is that several other entrepreneurs have made similar improvements to the mechanisms. The dispute lasted for several years until, finally, the parties discussed all the legal and financial nuances.
And so, in 1856, Singer became the founder of the I.M.Singer company & Co and put the production of sewing machines on the industrial stream. During the first year, 2,564 pieces were collected. This is quite a lot considering that one copy of a wonderfully beautiful and comfortable car costs one hundred dollars (in terms of today’s exchange rate, it is $2880).
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However, people went to such expenses, as it made it possible not to sit with a needle, making a seam manually, but to quickly scribble the product. For example, before that, a seamstress spent 15 hours making a shirt with a productivity of 240 stitches per hour. And now, this process took only one hour, since the machine was allowed to make 5400 stitches per hour.
Four years later, the production facilities were expanded. The new plant, opened in New York, has already produced 13 thousand copies per year. In the future, sewing machines became much cheaper, and in the store, you could buy it for $10.
The innovation was massively introduced, changing the lives of many housewives. Girls from poor families mastered a new profession of a seamstress. And at home it was possible to sew fashionable outfits – shops offered patterns for self-production of clothes.
100 rooms and 20 children
On the personal front, the inventor also had a constant search for perfection. The man entered into his first marriage at the age of 19. His chosen one was 15-year-old, Catherine Maria Haley. The young charmer gave him two children. However, Isaac at that time did not imagine himself to be a staid head of the family, his thoughts were absorbed by the acting environment.
As a result, he ran away, joining a theater troupe. It is curious that the marital relationship was officially terminated only in 1860, and the reason was indicated adultery of the spouse. But this was only a tribute to the traditions that existed at that time: in fact, Isaac had been living with his stage colleague Mary Ann Sponsler for a long time.
He met this woman in 1836. She knew him both in poverty and in wealth and gave birth to 10 children, 8 of whom survived. The inventor bought a house on Fifth Avenue in New York for this family as soon as his finances allowed him to do so.
However, this family was not destined to live happily ever after. One day Mary Ann noticed her husband in a car driving around the city with an attractive employee. A more detailed investigation revealed that Isaac has another connection on the side. Mary McGonigal has already given birth to five children with the loving entrepreneur.
So the official spouse arranged not just a grandiose scandal, but also accused him of bigamy. The divorce and departure of the disgraced businessman to London followed. However, it turned out that Singer also had an illegitimate daughter from Mary Eastwood Walters in America.
Isaac began his new life in the UK by experiencing the passion of love again. But this was not the woman with whom he crossed the ocean. His heart was won by a beautiful young Frenchwoman Isabelle Boyer, who was only 25 years old. It is rumored that the Statue of Liberty was created according to her forms. And so, the 55-year-old entrepreneur remarries. Wife Isabel gives birth to six more children. And a man in love buys a huge estate in Devon for his wife. Neighbors nicknamed this mansion “Singerton” for its huge size: it had about a hundred rooms.
The death of Isaac Merritt Singer
Isaac Merritt Singer died at the age of 63. He managed to make a huge fortune of $13 million. It was then divided between 20 children. But, as usual, the favorites got more. But one of the sons, who supported his mother during the divorce, received only $500 from an angry industrialist.
Singer’s sewing machine has become the most useful invention for the whole world. But there are other creations of people who have passed the test of time and continue to amaze. Get $2 daily for reading a story. How does it work? Download the app, sign up, and start cashing out. Click the link