Heinrich Strehblow. Lady embroidering in the workshop. 1892
ATTENTION – QUESTION!
A thimble is a useful item in everyday life; many people have it at home. But thimble manufacturers suffered greatly in the middle of the 19th century – the demand for their goods sharply decreased.
Who caused them such losses?
The answer is a little later.
A LITTLE HISTORY
Where did the thimbles come from? It is said that they have been invented by the 17th century Amsterdam jeweler Nicholas Bentoten. He loved Anita van Ranem, the daughter of a stingy neighbor who made her embroider a lot. With a needle in her hand, she spent over the embroidery frame the whole day and often pricked her fingers.
Once a gift was brought to her house – a small golden hat with the inscription: “Dear Madam, I ask you to accept this invention of mine as a gift so that it would protect beautiful and hardworking fingers from the pricks” And the signature was Nicholas Bentoten. A beautiful legend …
But the obvious lie – thimbles existed much earlier. Back in the Middle Ages, there was another legend – about a tailor who saw elves in the underworld, sewing clothes for gnomes. And to prevent the elves from prickng, the gnomes carried bells from the garden to them …
Since we are talking about elves and gnomes, everything is immediately clear – you just need to drink less. And now archaeologists have found thimbles both in ancient China and in no less ancient Egypt – they are clearly more than two thousand years old. They were made of gold, silver or bronze and were often decorated with ornaments.
THIMBLE – NEEDLE – CLOTHING
If the thimble was invented so long ago, there is no doubt that the needle was invented even earlier – after all, if there is no needle, then the thimble is not needed. Indeed, the first needles are about 50,000 years old, they were found in the famous Denisova Cave, where the contemporaries of the Neanderthals lived.
And the first clothes, of course, appeared before the first needle. The time of its appearance helps to clarify, oddly enough, the genetic analysis of the body louse that lives in human clothes – it separated from the head lice about 170,000 years ago, and that’s when clothes appeared.
By the way, although the needle was invented a long time ago, ancient tailors often worked without it. The first animal skins were often simply tied on the right shoulder, usually with their paws. Loincloths of the ancient Egyptians did not require any sewing – what else is there to sew?
The Greeks wore chitons made of rectangular pieces of fabric, which held two brooches on their shoulders, and a belt on their belt. They simply wrapped themselves in women’s peplos, and the Etruscan toga, fashionable among the Romans, was just a large piece of fabric, which had to be wrapped up correctly.
NEEDLE WITH THREAD
Nevertheless, more and more often sewn clothes were worn. Having defeated the Roman Empire, the barbarian Germans flooded Europe with their barbaric clothes, according to which they were distinguished from civilized people in the Roman Empire – pants. And the trouser-legs need to be sewn, or nothing will come of it.
As early as 36,000 years ago, a unique rarity was left in an ancient cave in Georgia – the world’s first dyed fabric. The art of dyeing developed over time, made it possible to obtain fabrics of almost any color, and embroidery made the clothes of the upper classes of society even more beautiful.
Society gradually grew rich. In ancient times, a person who had two changes of clothes belonged to at least the middle class, and in the Middle Ages, every not quite beggar city dweller had his own wardrobe. Elizabeth of England had 6,000 dresses in general, but she’s still a queen …
The properties of human nature gave rise to another reason to change clothes more often – fashion, the desire to wear something that was not worn at all a month earlier, and a neighbor could wear only a month later. The work of a tailor and a seamstress became even more in demand, but they frankly could not cope.
With the industrial revolution, the problem of clothing has only exacerbated. The work is not prestigious, the pay is modest, and the demand is growing. As you know, there is only one recipe for such ailments in the industrial revolution – mechanization, replacing heavy and monotonous manual labor with a machine.
The pioneer in the fashion business, as you would expect, was a Frenchman. Barthélemy Thimonnier, a tailor married to an embroiderer. He did not know how to draw, but he agreed with the engineer Auguste Ferrand, he made the drawings, and on July 17, 1830, they both received a patent for the world’s first sewing machine that makes 200 stitches per minute (a tailor could make no more than 30).
But Thimonnier’s machine was not good enough to overcome the curse of this (and not only this!) Era – hatred of innovation. When he opened the world’s first mechanized garment factory for sewing military uniforms, local workers yelled: “Because of such bastards, we will be out of work!” and burned down this factory and almost killed the owner. He died in poverty.
His fate, apparently, scared the American Walter Hunt a lot, the inventor of the well-known safety pin to all of us, that he, having invented his own version of the sewing machine back in 1834, did not take a patent at all – so that the seamstresses left without work would not tear it to pieces …
Luddites are always historically doomed – progress cannot be slowed down for long. Hunt did not dare, and the weaving mechanic Elias Howe in 1846 received a patent for his machine, which worked at breakneck speed, making 300 stitches per minute. Hunt tried to sue, and the court recognized his priority, but left the patent for Howe – Hunt himself did not want to get it!
Howe was initially unable to organize the production and sale of his machines in the United States. He went to England, where he found a buyer for the right to use his machines in the British Empire. But when he returned to his homeland, he immediately saw that the situation for his business was very complicated.
THE BEST VILLAIN RICHARD THE THIRD
The reason for this was the last child of an emigrant from Germany (most likely from the Palatinate), whether a Jew or a Hungarian, noone knows – with the unbearably long for hurry-American surname Reisinger, which they quickly cut off to just Singer.
His debut in life turned out to be rather bleak. Parental divorce, a quarrel with a stepmother, running away from home at the age of 12 is a common set of teenage misfortunes for single-parent families. Such, as a rule, really want to find a reliable profession that will save them from such a life.
But the young Isaac Merritt Singer did not act like everyone else – he decided to becomeabecome an actor to learn a craft that in the Puritan States of those years corresponded in prestige to something as a drug dealer and a deputy nowadays. But it was already feeding him somehow – he was clearly not talentless.
Singer was proud of his stage success, even boasted, often without reason. For example, his words that he is the best Richard III of his time on the American stage are not supported by the facts – critics of that time spoke of him without reverence.
But his personal life was stormy. At 19, he married Catherine Mary Haley and had two children. But after 6 years he started to live with Mary-Ann Spancer with whom he played on stage, and she gave birth to 10 children over the decades of their life together. Please note – this is just the beginning …
HAPPINESS IS NOT THE THEATRE
In addition to theater, Isaac Singer had a hobby rare for an actor – invention. In 1839, he received his first patent for a drilling machine, sold it for $ 2,000 and was able to pursue a less lucrative theatrical career. However, you cannot order the heart …
However, in 1850 he turned his back on the ramp lights to work on improving the sewing machine. He did not invent it, and never said that he had invented it. There were already several models, including Howe’s machine, and he decided to figure out what was hindering their success.
Singer spent a little over a week on it – one of the biographical articles about him called this time “the ten days that shook the world”. But during this time, he identified three main shortcomings in all machines, and not only revealed – he also managed to fix all these shortcomings!
Firstly, Isaac positioned the shuttle horizontally and the thread stopped tangling. Secondly, he equipped the machine with a table-board for fabric and a leg-holder of the needle, which made it possible to make a continuous seam. Thirdly, he created a foot pedal drive for thd machine. That’s all.
It turned out that in order to make a sewing machine simple and convenient, nothing else is needed. Is it possible to carefully compose patent documentation in the amount of several thousand titles of protection, ideally protecting the rights of the author.
PEACE IS BETTER THAN WAR
Singer sold the very first copy of the new sewing machine for a hundred dollars and fully recouped all the development and patenting costs, and even made a profit – it is very likely that this is the first such case in the entire history of the world. It remains only to expand production.
But a number of sewing machine inventors, including Howe, were deeply outraged by the violation of their inventive rights (at least the way they understood these rights). The lawyers were already rubbing their hands, hoping that all the earnings from the invention would go to them.
Potential defendants last met in Albany – and found a way out. The president of Grover & Baker, which owns the rights to one of the sewing machines, proposed merging patents instead of a trial, creating the first-ever patent pool to build sophisticated machinery without patent wars. Singer got $ 5 from each machine, and Howe also got $ 5, and lawyers – nothing!
Sewing machines were produced a lot, their sales grew by leaps and bounds. Their production was put on the assembly line long before Ford, and the cost of one machine dropped to $ 10. In 1863, 20,000 sewing machines were already produced. Singer did the best, and here’s why …
CAUTION – CORRECT ANSWER!
Now it is completely clear why the production and sale of thimbles has sharply decreased – those who sew on a sewing machine do not need a thimble!
Only hand-sewers continued to use thimbles, and there were significantly fewer of them.
As the actor Isaac Singer was mediocre, as an inventor he was good, but the advertiser – just wonderful! Even in churches, he handed out advertisements that resembled sermons. Their main slogan was: “Dear sister, do you want to be saved from domestic work?”
He did not neglect patriotic motives either. Just in the United States, the Civil War broke out, and many sewing machines were used in factories that sew military uniforms (remember, Thimonnier started that way!). A new Singer slogan has appeared: “We dress our army!”
To advertise his product, Singer even used collections of cards depicting the songbirds of America, as well as a series of similar images of famous opera singers. What’s the connection with sewing machines? So the word “Singer” is translated into Russian by the word “singer”, who sings songs!
In 1867, Isaac opened his first factory outside the United States – in Glasgow. And in 1902 a huge enterprise was opened in Podolsk, making up to 600,000 machines a year – for Russia, Turkey, Persia, the Balkans, Japan and China. When the plant moved, Agathon Faberge offered to take out his unnecessary archive free of charge. What for? Yes, he collected from it the largest collection of stamps in Russia!
It’s even hard to find fault with this invention. Unless historians of technology joke that at least some part should be made in the machine, which breaks down after a hundred years of operation, otherwise they all work and work, interfering with increasing sales – too good is also not good!
FAVORITE OF WOMEN
Women had something to love Isaac Singer – he saved them from hard work. But he loved them no less than they loved him. Do you remember how he left his first wife with two children to go to another woman who bore him ten children? I already warned – it was just the beginning!
Only in 1860 he divorced his first wife, when two years later Mary Ann also left him, finding him in a carriage with Mary McGonigal under circumstances that exclude the possibility of double interpretation. Interestingly, she had already given birth to five children to Singer by that time!
Mary Ann tried to attract an unfaithful lover for polygamy, but he quickly left with Mary McGonigal for London. Along the way, it turned out that he had another lady of the heart, Mary Eastwood Waters, who gave birth to his daughter. 2 + 10 + 5 +1 = 18! Maybe that’s enough for him at last?
In London he met Isabella Boyer. Unlike the four previous ones, she did not bear the name Mary – maybe he was attracted by such an innovation? It is possible that it was she who was the model with which the sculptor Bartholdi sculpted the Statue of Liberty. For this and for something else, she was nicknamed the Statue of Liberty. It did not stop her from giving birth to Singer 6 more children.
So this 24-time father really evoked female love – sometimes for quite worthy reasons. Mahatma Gandhi said about his invention: “This is one of the rare useful things invented by mankind for peaceful purposes”. Singer said: “I have devoted my life to making happy more than half of humanity”. And it is the truth …
LET’S SUM UP
The fact that for some people progress may become a success, for others – it can cause problems (thimble manufacturers). But progress can not be stopped anyway – we need to find a new balance!
The goal of inert and limited people is the absence of any changes. To achieve it, they will burn, break and kill. Don’t give them a reason to go crazy – make changes. But reasonable and tidy.
If you are suing for some money, you give most of it to lawyers. If you agree, you save this money. So decide for yourself what to do right.
A good product also needs to be sold correctly. Don’t worry – selling a bad product is much more difficult. But doing nothing and waiting for it to be bought up is also pure ruin.
Everyone loves creative people – especially people of the opposite sex. This is another motive to engage in creativity, if not for other reasons, then at least for the sake of this …