CDV ADVERTISEMENT OF ELIAS HOWE, 17th CONNECTICUT VOLUNTEER INFANTRY & INVENTOR OF THE SEWING MACHINE

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Item Code: 172-4836

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Image shows Elias Howe with the wording advertising his business, “LATEST IMPROVED SEWING MACHINE / ELIAS HOWE, JR. MAKER AND INVENTOR NEW YORK, U.S.A. / ELI OVERTON, MANAGING AGENT, 205 GENESEE STREET, UTICA”. Image is clear with good contrast.

Reverse reads, “THE NEW IMPROVED HOWE MACHINE. Is without an equal. Will save its cost every year if used one fourth the time. This has been proven by over one half million people. GET THE ORIGINAL MACHINE, if you would be rich and happy. The Howe Machine Co. are making a Specialty of the Manufacture of a Superior article of Silk. Sold by the yard and no cheat in weight. - Try it. Mr. ---- Combs Agt. At Grant N.Y.”

Elias Howe Jr. (July 9, 1819 – October 3, 1867) was an American inventor and sewing machine pioneer. Howe spent his childhood and early adult years in Massachusetts where he apprenticed in a textile factory in Lowell beginning in 1835. After mill closings due to the Panic of 1837, he moved to Cambridge, Massachusetts, to work as a mechanic with carding machinery, apprenticing along with his cousin Nathaniel P. Banks. Beginning in 1838, he apprenticed in the shop of Ari Davis, a master mechanic in Cambridge who specialized in the manufacture and repair of chronometers and other precision instruments. It was in the employ of Davis that Howe seized upon the idea of the sewing machine. Despite securing his patent, Howe had considerable difficulty finding investors in the United States to finance production of his invention, so his elder brother Amasa Bemis Howe traveled to England in October 1846 to seek financing. Amasa was able to sell his first machine for £250 to William Thomas of Cheapside, London, who owned a factory for the manufacture of corsets, umbrellas and valises. Elias and his family joined Amasa in London in 1848, but after business disputes with Thomas and failing health of his wife, Howe returned nearly penniless to the United States. His wife Elizabeth, who preceded Elias back to the United States, died in Cambridge, Massachusetts shortly after his return in 1849. Despite his efforts to sell his machine, other entrepreneurs began manufacturing sewing machines. Howe was forced to defend his patent in a court case that lasted from 1849 to 1854 because he found that Isaac Singer with cooperation from Walter Hunt had perfected a facsimile of his machine and was selling it with the same lockstitch that Howe had invented and patented. He won the dispute and earned considerable royalties from Singer and others for sales of his invention. Howe contributed much of the money he earned to providing equipment for the 17th Connecticut Volunteer Infantry of the Union Army during the Civil War, in which Howe served as a Private in Company D. Due to his faltering health he performed light duty, often seen walking with the aid of his shillelagh, and took on the position of Regimental Postmaster, serving out his time riding to and from Baltimore with war news. He enlisted August 14, 1862, and then mustered out July 19, 1865. Between 1865/67, Elias established The Howe Machine Co. in Bridgeport, Connecticut that was operated by Elias's sons-in-law, the Stockwell Brothers until about 1886. Between 1854 and 1871/72, Elias's older brother, Amasa Bemis Howe, and later his son Benjamin Porter Howe, as Amasa died in 1868, owned and operated a factory in New York City manufacturing sewing machines under the name of The Howe Sewing Machine Co., which had won a gold medal at the London Exhibition of 1862. Then in 1873, B. P. Howe sold The Howe Sewing Machine Co. factory and name to The Howe Machine Co. which merged the two companies together. Elias's sewing machine won a gold medal at the Paris Exhibition of 1867, and that same year he was awarded the Légion d'honneur by Napoleon III for his invention. Howe died at age 48, on October 3, 1867, of gout and a massive blood clot. He was buried in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, New York. His second wife, Rose Halladay, who died on October 10, 1890, is buried with him. Both Singer and Howe ended their days as multi-millionaires. Howe was commemorated with a 5-cent stamp in the Famous American Inventors series issued October 14, 1940. In 2004 he was inducted into the United States National Inventors Hall of Fame.  [sm]

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