Sewing Machine Research
ISMACS International
International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society

The Grand Sewing Machine Trial

There occurred in 1865 a strange event which was called the Grand Sewing Machine Trial which is much refereed to in the advertisements of the Willcox and Gibbs Company.

As they tell the story it would appear that either all the manufacturers got together to allow their machines to be tested on a number of points by an independent panel of judges or that the company set up a publicity stunt to put their machine through its paces.

Either way, according to the advertisements, the outcome was a resounding success for the American manufacturer. It came out top on all 11 points judged, being the simplest, least liable to get out of order, best made, cheapest, noiseless, works easiest, fastest, cannot be turned backwards, requires the least mechanical skill to operate and requires the least tuition.

Nowhere can I discover any other manufacturer referring to this Great Trial and, what is probably more to the point, I cannot find any announcements stating that the event was going to take place - only the results - according to W&G. Nor did the sewing-machine press of time, refer to the great event editorially.

The trial took place in New York, and as judges there were two engineers and two representatives from the rag trade.

The proceedings took all of seven hours and the W&G company made much of the fact that during this time, not one needle was broken nor did their machines balk at being asked to sew any kind of material submitted to them and each W&G was in perfect working order at the finish.