Case 4: Industry    


The French first conceived the concept of the industrial fair, and its system of awards by juries, to encourage the advancement of national manufactures. England hosted the first international exposition in 1851. British manufacturers feared an international exhibition would harm national industry, by creating a demand for imports. Instead, the exhibition inspired a healthy level of competition and national pride among exhibitors, which encouraged invention, innovation, and fair pricing. The event was open for six months and viewed by over six million people from around the world. The prevailing theme of the 1851 exposition, and subsequent fairs, was the synthesis of art and industry. The concurrence of textile and needlework exhibits exemplifies this.

Proceedings of the Central Committee of the United States on the Industrial Exhibition of 1851: at the meeting held September 16th 1850. Washington, D.C.: Robert A. Waters, 1850.

Late Manufacturer. The Great Industrial Exhibition, in 1851. [London: 1850?].

William C. Richards. A Day in the New York Crystal Palace, and How to Make the Most of it. New York: : G.P. Putnam & Co., 10 Park Place., M.DCCC.LIII. [1853]

Exhibition of 1861: Why it should be. What it should be. Where it should be. London: Bradbury and Evans, 1859.


"Knitted Parasol by Miss Kettlewell" from The Illustrated Exhibitor. London: Printed and Published by John Cassell, 1851.

"The case of Miss Mary Kettlewell contains some very good specimens of Irish Work, comprehending articles in knitting, crochet, embroidery, and pillow-lace. Knitting, however, occupies the most conspicuous position in the collection; and we have selected two of the prettiest articles for illustration. The parasol is knitted with extremely fine cotton, each section is gradually brought to a point, as represented in the engraving , and the plain knitting above is ornamented with raised embroidery in satin stitch. In like manner the whalebone ribs are covered with embroidery on knitting. This parasol being made of light silk, the knitted cover is tacked over, and finished with a frill of pillow lace...."



The term "Pin Money" originally applied to the annual allowance given to women by their husbands or guardians for the purchase of pins. In the nineteenth century supplemental income earned from the sale of needlework became "pin money."

Americans relied on English imports of pins until the War of 1812 restricted imports making supplies scarce. During the war, convicts at the Greenwich Village State Prison in New York City began manufacturing pins under the direction of some English entrepreneurs. They continued production until the end of the war when imports resumed. In 1832 John J. Howe patented the first successful American pin machine and twenty years later introduced a machine to mount them in sheets for retail sale.

"Pin-Money." Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine, January 1853.

National Needle Company. Springfield, Massachusetts: 1876. Centennial Exhibition Trade Card.

Shrimpton's Brass Pins Manufactured Expressly for Chas. Ketcham, Dealer in Dry Goods…Mountainville, New York. New York: American Warehouse and Office, [ca. 1890]. Sheet of Pins from the collection of the Ketcham family.


"Pin-Money;" National Needle Company. Centennial Exhibition Trade Card; Shrimpton's Brass Pins Manufactured Expressly for Chas. Ketcham, Dealer in Dry Goods…Mountainville, New York.


"Our Practical Dress Instructor, Evening-Dress."Godey's Lady's Book and Magazine. November, 1854.

With the introduction of the sewing machine periodicals recognized the need for dress patterns, but those provided were often confusing and difficult to make. To prepare a pattern it was necessary to scale it up and resize it for the wearer, then draw it on paper. Madame Demorest's Emporium of Fashion and E. Butterick & Company introduced paper patterns scaled to size after the Civil War.


"Our Practical Dress Instructor, Evening-Dress"


The Silk Culture in the United States. New York: Greeley & McElrath, 1844.

Lack of investment capital and adequate machinery for spinning retarded the silk industry's progress in the eighteenth century. In the wake of the industrial revolution, access to new spinning and spooling technologies encouraged investors to buy enormous numbers of mulberry trees for the nourishment of silk worms. However, in 1839 a harsh winter killed the trees destroying all prospects of domestic silk production. The American silk industry finally became successful when manufacturers decided to rely on imported cocoons for the spinning of sewing silk.


Growth Chart of the Silkworm from The Silk Culture in the United States


William B. Dana. Cotton from Seed to Loom: A Hand-Book of Facts: for the Daily Use of Producer, Merchant and Consumer. New York: William B. Dana, 1878.

The invention of the cotton gin in 1793, which coincided with the application of Watt's steam engine to the textile industry, made it possible for the supply of raw cotton to meet the demand of manufacturers. The total production of raw cotton increased from 189,500 pounds in 1791 to 3,826,086 bales in 1860.

Alfred Jenks and Son. Illustrated Catalogue of Machines built by the Alfred Jenks and Son. Bridesburg, Pennsylvania: C. Sherman, printer, [1853].

Alfred Jenks was a protégé of Samuel Slater, (the inventor of the first American spinning machine) before he came to the Philadelphia region. In 1810 Jenks established the first American factory for the manufacture of cotton machinery in Holmesburg, Pennsylvania. In 1819, he commenced the manufacture of woolen machinery for Betheul Moore at Conshohocken, the first woolen mill in the Commonwealth. By the mid-nineteenth century, Alfred Jenks offered a wide variety of textile machinery, including looms, Jenks' cotton-spreader, carding engines, Jenks' fly frame, Jenks' patent spinning frames, and Jenks' improved cylinder cotton gin.


Spooling Machine from Eighty Years Progress of the United States. Hartford, Conn.: L. Stebbins, 1867.

Spooling Machine from Eighty Years Progress of the United States. Hartford, Conn.: L. Stebbins, 1867.








E.C. Haserick. The Secrets of the Art of Dyeing Wool, Cotton, and Linen...and Random Yarns. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Welch, Bigelowe, & Co., 1869.

In the eighteenth century, it was common for families to dye their own fabric and yarn in the winter months. They used natural substances, such as leaves and berries, which they collected throughout the year. Nineteenth century urban migration made it difficult for families to continue this tradition. Instead, they relied on professional dyers with adequate facilities and knowledge of new chemical dyes. This book provides examples and recipes for the professional dyer to succeed in the "delightful art" of color.





Charles Leroux. A Practical Treatise on the Manufacture of Worsteds and Carded Yarns. Philadelphia: Henry Carey Baird, 1869.

Samuel Slater's spinning machine was subject to constant improvements at the turn of the nineteenth century. American manufacturers strived to produce a strong finely spun thread, equal to that imported from England, which would not break when used on a power loom. Charles Leroux shares his knowledge of this growing industry in his treatise. "We believe we are rendering a service to manufacturers and their foremen, by offering them a practical treatise upon the spinning of combed (worsted), carded combed, and carded wool, a sort of vade-mecum in which they may find all desirable information, and simplified calculations for daily use in a manufactory. The work contains also a description of all operations to which wool is subjected, from the time it leaves the sheep till it is converted into yarn, and of all the most recently invented machines employed in spinning."

Ambrose Blacklock. Treatise on Sheep. New York: Wiley and Putnam, 1841.

Wool produced in colonial America, for home consumption, was coarse and unappealing, but aftre the revolution finer breeds began to arrive from Europe. In 1793 Mr. William Foster of Boston returned from a trip to Spain with two merino sheep, the first of their kind in the country. He presented them as a gift to his friend Andrew Carnegie (no relation to the philanthropist) Ignorant of their worth Carnegie ate them. Imports of sheep continued steadily, and by 1850 twenty-two million sheep thrived in the United States..


Charles Leroux. A Practical Treatise on the Manufacture of Worsteds and Carded Yarns.


The annual number of patents increased dramatically between 1790 and 1850, from an average of 77 per year to 2,525. The items illustrated here offer a glimpse at the variety of inventions intended to improve the craft of needlework. The home knitting machine, largely a failure in the nineteenth century, resurfaced in the twentieth century and developed a substantial following of crafters. Cobalt lenses also found new life a century later as a fashion trend. The original intent of this optical marvel was to ease eyestrain when working on white needlework. Inventions such as the sheep-shearing chair and carpet rag looper were quickly outmoded.

"Lamb Knitting machine" from Horace Greeley's The Great Industries of the United States. 1872.

"McCall's Patent Sheep Shearing Chair." Barnesville, Ohio: C.H. & J.J. McCall, 1876. Centennial Exhibition Trade Card.Naylor and Jefferies.

Perfect Sight: How to Retain It. Imperfect Sight: How to Restore It. Philadelphia: James W. Queen & Co., Opticians, 1876.

Cobalt Eyeglasses. Late Nineteenth Century. Lent by the Ketcham Family.

"The Great Centennial Carpet Rag Looper, patented April 13, 1875." Philadelphia: Girard Printing House, [1875].James W. Queen and Co.


Lamb Knitting Machine

Sheep Shearing Chair Trade Card
Cobalt Glasses and Perfect Sight


David H. Strother. Virginia Illustrated. New York: 1857.

In the nineteenth century, hand knitting remained a necessity for African American slaves. Staples such as socks, stockings, and other warm apparel monopolized their needles. However, accounts and newspaper advertisements of runaway slaves describe in great detail the unique designs and colors of their knit apparel, illustrating some influence of fancywork's popularity.



George P. Burnham. A Hundred Thousand Dollars in Gold, How To Make It. Springfield, Mass: W.J. Holland, 1876.

Through a series of entertaining short stories, the author, who gained and lost a hundred thousand dollars in gold, gives the reader financial advice. In particular, the story of Fannie in "Two Clear Heads Sometimes Better Than One," presents us with a young wife who applies her skills in embroidery and crochet to earn money for her savings account. Her industrious nature in times of comfort becomes a lifeline when her husband loses his job in the panic of 1837.


Book Cover


The manufacture of American hosiery in the mid-nineteenth century consisted of two branches: fashioned and un-fashioned. Fashioned hosiery was shaped by narrowing and widening the fabric during the process of knitting in the loom. Unfashioned hose consisted of knit fabric produced in lengths, cut to form, and sewn together, which resulted in unsightly seams, runs in the fabric where cut, and an unshapely appearance. Some manufacturers wet unfashioned hosiery and dried them on blocks to give the illusion of shape.

(From left to right in photo on right)

Stockings, Hand Knit. Linen. New Hampshire: 1847. Lent by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Stockings, Machine Knit. Cotton. England: Ca. 1850-1860. Lent by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Stockings, Hand-Knit. Cotton with Beadwork. Mid Nineteenth Century. Lent by the Philadelphia Museum of Art.



The use of trade cards for advertising began in the last third of the nineteenth century. Businesses recognized the need for a new form of advertising to distinguish the wide variety of products available to consumers. Trade cards were given to store patrons by retailers or sealed in packaged goods making them the most ubiquitous advertising gimmick of the nineteenth century.


"That's the King, Bring Me Some More." J. & P. Coats Best Six Cord Spool Cotton. [ca. 1870s]
"Gulliver and the Liliputians." J. & P. Coats Best Six Cord Spool Cotton. [ca. 1870s]
"Knitting and Embroidery Materials, A.B. Häpke, Knit Goods, Harrisburg, PA." [1876].
"John Mustin, Trimmings, Hosiery, Gloves, Corsets, Zephyr, and Knitting Yarn, Thread, Needles Etc. Etc. At Lowest Prices. [Philadelphia: ca. 1870s].
"The Singer Manufacturing Company Sewing Machines." New York: 34 Union Square, 1876.
"The Olden Time." American Sewing Machine Company. [ca. 1870s].
"Wilkie & Osborne." Centennial Exposition Trade Card. 1876.