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Walter Hunt - Inventor of the Safety Pin
The safety pin was the invention of Walter Hunt. 
Safety Pin - Image Copyright  Jay Boersma.
safety pin 
Sewing Machine
History of the Sewing Machine
Related Innovations
Elias Howe
By Mary Bellis

The safety pin was the invention of Walter Hunt. Hunt was a mechanic from New York, whose other inventions include a forerunner of the Winchester repeating rifle, a successful flax spinner, knife sharpener, streetcar bell, hard-coal-burning stove, artificial stone, road sweeping machinery, velocipedes, ice ploughs and mail making machinery. In 1834, Walter Hunt built America's first sewing machine, which was also the first eye pointed needle sewing machine. He later lost interest in patenting his sewing machine, because he believed the invention would cause unemployment.

The safety pin was invented while Walter Hunt was twisting a piece of wire, trying to think of something that would help him pay off a fifteen dollar debt. On April 10, 1849, the safety pin was patented. Walter Hunt also thought little of his safety pin as an invention and soon sold the patent for four hundred dollars.

For those of you who don't know what a safety pin is; it is something you use to fasten cloth diapers.

More on the Hunt Sewing Machine
The eye pointed needle sewing machine was later re-invented by Elias Howe of Spencer, Mass. and patented by Howe in 1846. In both Hunt's and Howe's machine a curved eye pointed needle that passed the thread through the fabric in an arc motion; on the other side of the fabric a loop was created; and a second thread carried by a shuttle running back and forth on a track passed through the loop creating a lockstitch. Howe's design was copied by Isaac Singer and others, leading to extensive patent litigation. A court battle in the 1850s showed conclusively Howe was not the originator of the eye pointed needle and gave credit to Walter Hunt. The court case was brought by Isaac Merritt Singer, the largest manufacturer of sewing machines. Singer was attempting to fight Howe's patent, to show that the invention was already some 20 years old and Howe should not have been able to claim royalties for it. Since Hunt had abandoned his sewing machine, Howe's patent was upheld in 1854. Singer's machine was somewhat different its needle moved up and down, rather than sideways, and it was powered by a treadle rather than a hand crank. However, it used the same lockstitch process and a similar needle. Howe died in 1867, the year his patent expired.

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