Original Singer sewing machine, 1853.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
This lock-stitch machine was one of the first built by Isaac Merritt Singer (1811-1875) in accordance with his patent of 1851. It was originally called the 'Jenny Lind' after the famous Swedish singer. The shuttle is propelled by a driver moved by a crank pin below the work table, and the needle motion, obtained from a crank pin on the upper shaft, is straight and vertical. The machine was packed in a box, which doubled up as a stand and contained a treadle connected to the handle on the balance wheel by a pitman or connecting rod. The treadle was pivoted near the centre and was worked with a heel-and-toe action. Singer did not realise that he could have patented the treadle, but when this was pointed out to him it was too late, for it was then already in public use.