Wheeler and Wilson #3

Wheeler and Wilson #3 – 1872

This machine was brought to Alberta from Kawartha, Ontario in 1875, according to the family history, and is 148 years old at the time of this writing.

The W&W #3 is notable as it debuted in 1860 and was one of the first sewing machines to utilize a rotary hook and a four motion feed, which Wheeler and Wilson patented in 1851 and 1854. This hook and feed system is used to this day on many machines although the workings on modern machines are all hidden away.

This machine is a lockstitch machine, with a glass presser foot, made so that the sewist could see the stitches forming, and unlike a modern machine, it sews left to right instead of front to back. This was favoured by shirt makers and an industrial version was offered as well as the domestic model shown here. It also used a curved needle and replacements are available, but they are rare and very costly so this machine would not be one you would want to use daily.

It is interesting to compare this machine, which might be mistaken for a scroll saw, with our Singer 12k which is an 1874 model, (the model debuted in 1864)… and would be instantly recognized as being a sewing machine. It is also the machine that made Singer the dominant global manufacturer they came to be, and was widely copied.

Singer bought up Wheeler and Wilson in 1905 and their Bridgeport facility became the location where Singer produced many of their industrial machines.

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