Singer, Isaac Merrit (1811-1875)

Isaac Merrit Singer, 1811-1875. Painting by Edward Harrison May. Isaac Merrit Singer, 1811-1875. Painting by Edward Harrison May.

Isaac Merrit Singer was an American inventor and businessman who was involved in the development of hand sewing machines and the Singer sewing machine. Singer was born in Pittstown, New York, the son of German immigrants. He worked as a mechanic and cabinet maker, then as an actor in a travelling troupe. Singer's first patent, in 1839, was for a machine that drilled rock. 

In 1849, while working for a print manufacturing shop, he invented a machine to carve and engrave various types of wood and metal. Singer later moved to Boston (USA), a centre for the printing trade, where he tried to find financial backers for his type-carving machine. He rented a workshop from Orson Phelps, who built and repaired Lerow and Blodgett sewing machines.

There were many competing sewing machine manufacturers at the time, producing machines for industrial use in the clothing, shoe and bridle trades, but not for domestic use. The two men started working together and this was the start of Singer’s involvement with the international, home sewing machine market. With Phelps’ agreement, Singer worked on improvements to the sewing machine.

In August 1851, Singer received US Patent number 8,294 for his new sewing machine and in the same year he established I.M. Singer & Co. in partnership with the New York lawyer, Edward Clark. The firm was later known as the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Singer died in 1875 a multimillionaire and was buried near his home in England.

Wikipedia (retrieved 6th April 2016).


Digital source of illustration (retrieved 17th June 2016).


Last modified on Monday, 01 May 2017 14:58