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.
to >>> History of the Sewing Machine