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International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society

ISMACS' Sewing Machine Book List

SEWING MACHINE HISTORY

The First Conglomerate, book cover.

The First Conglomerate - 145 years of the Singer company

Author:

Don Bissell

Publisher:

Audenreed Press, Brunswick, Maine

Format:

Hardcover. Illustrated.

Date:

1999

Pages

239

ISBN:

1-87941872
0967595509
978-0967595504

 

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A thorough history of 145 years of Singer concentrating, not on the machines, but on the company's role in the financial market. Fair history, but many factual errors on the technical side.

Genius Rewarded, or the Story of the Sewing Machine

Author:

John Scott

Publisher:

J. J. Caulon, New York:

Format:

Paperback

Date:

1880

Pages:

63

Heavy Singer-bias. No credit to anyone else and likely commissioned by the Singer Company. Excellent descriptions of Singer’s factory practices and procedures at a time when it was just getting into its swing. Has been serialised in ISMACS News. Downloadable online.

The first two chapters of the ISMACS News serilisation can be found here:

Genius Rewarded Chapter 1
Genius Rewarded Chapter 2

History of the Sewing Machine

Author:

James Parton

Publisher:

Originally, The Howe S.M. Co. Reprinted by Merchant Books (Watchmaker Publishing) 2008.

Format:

7 1/2" x 9 1/4", softcover (2008 ed.)

Pages:

45

Date:

1867

ISBN:

1-60386-171-8

 

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"As originally published in The Atlantic Monthly, May 1867..." Lots of early history but told from a distinctly Howe point of view. Shameless P.R. but plenty to interest. Howe Snr.'s own story is pure melodrama. At the back is printed the Howe 1867 catalogue. Recently reprinted at a reasonable price.

The International History of the Sewing Machine

Author:

Frank Godfrey

Publisher:

Robert Hale (London). Trans-Atlantic Publications (U.S.A.)

Format:

Hardback

Date:

1982

Pages:

300

ISBN:

0-709198760

Covers industrial and domestic machines but, sadly, concentrates on easily-available material rather than serious research. The history is taken up to the 1960 Japanese virtual-takeover of the industry.

Peacefully Working To Conquer the World: Singer Sewing Machines In Foreign Markets, 1854-1898

Author:

Robert Bruce Davies

Publisher:

Arno Press, New York. (Originally published: Business History Review 43 (1969): Pages 299-325)

Date:

1976.

ISBN:

0 40509270 9

Academic but readable thesis by University of Wisconsin professor detailing Singer’s exemplary global marketing, based on company records. Sound history with some technical errors.

The Queen of Inventions: How the Sewing Machine Changed the World

Author:

Laurie Carlson

Publisher:

Millbrook Press, Brookfield, Connecticut, USA

Date:

2003

ISBN

0 76132706-1

For children.

Selling the Sewing Machine Around the World: Singer’s International Marketing Strategies, 1850–1920

Author:

Andrew Godley

Published in:

Enterprise & Society - Volume 7, Number 2, June 2006. OUP, Oxford Journals, pp. 266-314

Format:

Readable online

Meaty, academic rationale of Singer’s pioneering and hugely successful globalisation by the Reader in Business History at Reading University.

The Servant in The House – A Brief History of the Sewing Machine

Author:

Frederick Lewis Lewton, Curator of Textiles Division

Publisher:

The Smithsonian Institute, from the Smithsonian Report for 1929, pages 359-383. Smithsonian publication 3056.

Format:

Available online (download) with 8 plates.

Date:

1929

Pages:

24

Academic history of the industry told in biographies of the principal protagonists.

The Singer Saga

Author:

Charles M. Eastley

Publisher:

Merlin Books

Format:

Paperback. No illustrations.

Date:

1983

Pages:

52

ISBN:

0-86303089 0

Lightweight biography of Isaac Singer with considerable censoring of the old reprobate's real lifestyle.

Singer and the Sewing Machine (A capitalist romance)

Author:

Ruth Brandon

Publisher:

Barrie & Jenkins Ltd. 24 Highbury Crescent, London N5 1RX (U.K.), J.B. Lippincott Company (USA)

Format:

8 ½” x 5 ½”. Paperback. B&W

Date:

1977 (hardback), 1996 (paperback – publ. Kodansha International)

Pages:

244

ISBN:

0-21420156-2

A well-researched, warts-and-all biography of the extraordinary Isaac Singer. A complicated subject expertly handled as an easy-to-read story, rather than a list of historical facts. Good bibliography for detectives. Not technical. A must for fans.

Recovering the Lost Years - essays on the history of the Podolsk S.M. factory (formerly Singer's)

Author:

LudmillaTolstukhina

Publisher:

Moscow

Format:

8 ½” x 5 ½”. Paperback. B&W

Date:

2000

Pages:

455

ISBN:

5-88289-143-4

A fascinating and frank account of the Russian Singer factory, celebrating its hundredth anniversary. A candid commentary on the Soviet appropriation of the factory (sub-headline: "Bye bye America") and its subsequent progress. It outlasted nearly all the other Singer plants. Loaded with photographs, documents, first hand accounts and biographies of the individuals concerned. In Russian.

stories of oldway cover

Stories of Oldway

Author:

Joyce Packe

Publisher:

Torbay Borough Council Print Unit, Torbay, UK.

Format:

8” x 6”, paperback, B&W photographs

Date:

1988

Pages:

21

A short but thorough, illustrated history of The Wigwam, Singer’s extravagant retirement mansion in Torquay, UK. Probably intended as a guidebook for visitors – it’s a fascinating subject.