American Sewing Pins

Paper wrapping of Howe's sewing pins. Paper wrapping of Howe's sewing pins.

Sewing pins were expensive items in the early USA and were generally imported from Britain. During the War of 1812 (1812-1815) between the USA and Great Britain, there was an embargo on imports from Britain, so pins became even scarcer. An entrepreneur is said to have taught convicts at the Greenwich Village State Prison in New York City how to make pins by hand, which he then sold until the end of the war.

In 1832, John I. Howe patented the first successful USA pin making machine and shortly afterwards he formed the Howe Manufacturing Company (a patent was issued in 1832). Before long, the company was making 70,000 pins a day. The pins still had to be manually packaged, slowing down the production process. So in 1843, Howe and some employees developed a machine that crimped paper and inserted the pins.

From the 1850's onwards pins were produced on a large scale in the USA and became cheap, readily available items.

Digital source of illustration (retrieved 7th July 2016).


Last modified on Saturday, 13 May 2017 09:27
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