Advert for Singer & King sewing machines
Printer: Straker, W
Medium: Print on paper
Isaac Merrit Singer began manufacturing sewing machines in large volumes in New York in the 1850s. They retailed at $100 per machine. Prior to this period, all sewing machines had been hand-crank operated, but Singer's model was powered by a foot-tread and was the first to use a needle that moved vertically rather than horizontally.
As well as selling his machines through stores on the high street, Singer sold direct to the customer, introducing the concept of hire purchase in the process, which enabled people to buy the machine on an installment plan. In 1867, Singer opened his first factory outside the US, in Glasgow, Scotland. In 1880, world sales of Singer sewing machines exceeded 500,000 units.