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Singer Company records
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Singer Company records

Accession 2207

Manuscripts and Archives Department, Hagley Museum and Library


PO Box 3630
Wilmington, Delaware, 19807
302-658-2400
research@hagley.org

Finding aid prepared by Christopher T. Baer, 2000

This finding aid was produced using the Archivists' Toolkit 2013-02-26T11:19-0500

Finding aid prepared using best local practices and Describing Archives: A Content Standard

Cite items for this collection in the following format:
[Description and dates], Box/folder number, Singer Company records (Accession 2207), Hagley Museum and Library, Wilmington, DE 19807

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Descriptive Summary

Title: Singer Company records
Dates: 1851-1990
Accession Number: 2207
Creator: Singer Company.
Extent: 8 linear feet
Language of Material: English
Repository: Hagley Museum and Library: Manuscripts and Archives Department
Abstract: The Singer Company, once the world's leading producer of sewing machines, was the successor to I.M. Singer & Co., established in 1851. The records of the Singer Company comprise a group of materials from its Trademark Department. The largest file is devoted to trademark registrations for all the countries in which Singer sold its products, plus U.S. and Canadian registrations for the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company. The other major category of materials relates to company history, particularly records assembled for or created in connection with the company's centennial.
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Administrative Information


Provenance

Purchased from Mark Tomasko

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Historical Note

The Singer Company, once the world's leading producer of sewing machines, was the successor to I.M. Singer & Co., established in 1851. Isaac M. Singer had patented improvements resulting in the first commercially viable sewing machine. Edward Clark, who joned the firm in 1854, provided the planning skills and business acumen that ensured the firm's success. The company produced its first treadle-​operated machine in 1856, and Clark introduced installment selling the same year. The firm was incorporated as the Singer Manufacturing Company in 1863, and in 1871-72 it constructed a factory at Elizabethport, N.J., that was then the largest in the world devoted to a single product. Singer developed a worldwide sales organization. It built its first foreign factory at Glasgow in 1867 (replaced by a much larger works at Clydebank in 1882-84) and another at Podolsk, Russia in 1902. In the same year, Singer absorbed its major U.S. competitor, the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company.

Singer prospered during its first hundred years, but in the years 1951-57 the domestic sewing machine market collapsed. The amount of home sewing done by American women declined sharply, and increasing Japanese imports caused Singer's market share to fall from 66% to 33%. The company made attempts to diversify into electronics and aerospace and was renamed the Singer Company in 1963. The sewing machine business continued to shrink as more women sought careers outside the home, and in mid-1986 it was spun off to a separate subsidiary, SSMC Inc. After the 1987 stock market crash, the company was acquired by Paul A. Bilzerian, a corporate raider, who quickly sold off eight of the twelve Singer divisions, including all rights to the Singer name. SSMC Inc. was sold to Semi-Tech Microelectronic​s (Far East) Limited in April 1990. The much-shrunken Singer Company was renamed Bicoastal Corporation in October 1989.

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Scope and Content

The records of The Singer Company comprise a group of materials from its Trademark Department that were collected by a former employee.

The largest file is devoted to trademark registrations for all the countries in which Singer sold its products, plus U.S. and Canadian registrations for the Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company. There are many samples of logos such as the "Red S" and the "Singer Girl", who was depicted in the native garb of the country of sale. File copies of a wide variety of manuals, sewing guides, trade catalogs and trade cards are available in English and in other languages, reflecting the world-wide scope of Singer sales. A patent file covers sewing machine improvements from 1860 to 1932.

The other major category of materials relates to company history, particularly records assembled for or created in connection with the company's centennial. These include an unpublished manuscript, "The Story of Singer" (1951); a 1945 history of the Singer Manufacturing Company, Ltd., which operated the Clydebank factory; an account of the early development of the Singer machine by James Bolton, a machinist; a 1930 booklet on the Singer Building in London; memorials of George Ross Mackenzie; illustrated brochures on the Elizabethport factory; a program of a Singer Employees Association athletic meet (1923); and samples of company magazines. Newsclippings, 10-K annual reports, and letters to stockholders describe the company's decline in the 1970s and 1980s, as do several case studies from the Harvard Business School.

There are two small color guidebooks to major European art galleries in German that were distributed by Singer Nahmaschinen A.G.

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Arrangement

Arranged alphabetically by subject.

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Access Points

Advertising cards.
Advertising.
Clark, Edward, 1811-1882.
Commercial catalogs.
Employees' magazines, newsletters, etc.
Mackenzie, George R. (George Ross), 1820-1892.
Patents.
SSMC Inc.
Sewing machines.
Sewing-machine industry--Trademarks.
Sewing-machine industry.
Sheet music.
Singer Building (London, England).
Singer Company.
Singer Manufacturing Company, Ltd.
Singer Manufacturing Company.
Singer Sewing Machine Company, Ltd.
Singer, Isaac Merritt, 1811-1875.
Technical manuals.
Trade cards.
Trade catalogs.
Trademark licenses.
Trademarks.
Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company.
Wilson Sewing Machine Company.
Women in advertising.
Young and Rubicam.
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Series Descriptions and Inventory

Box
1 Annual reports - Form 10-K, 1975, 1980-1984
Box
1 Color guides to major European art galleries (in German) distributed by Singer Nähmaschinen Aktiengesellschaft, 1957
Box
1 Centennial, 1951
Box
1 “A Century of Home Sewing”, by Young & Rubicam, Inc., 1951
Box
1 Elizabethport, N.J. factory: program of Singer Employees Association athletic meet, 1923
Box
1 George Ross Mackenzie, 1892
Box
1 Memoirs of James Bolton: account of early Singer sewing machine development by a machinist, 1949
Box
1 Harvard Business School case studies of “International Manufacturing Co.” (code for Singer)
Box
1 News clippings, 1978-1989
Box
1 Singer Building, London, England (illustrated brochure), 1930
Box
1 Singer Company (U.K.) Ltd. - History, 1945
Box
1 “The Singer Saga” (includes Singer family tree), 1942
Box
1 “The Story of Singer” (ms. company history), 1951
Box
2 Misellaneous company magazines
Box
2 Singer Almanac, 1909
Box
2 Red S Review, 1951
Box
2 Singer Light, 1951, 1968
Box
2 Singer Magazine, 1978-1979
Box
2 Distributorship agreement, 1962
Box
2 Letters to stockholders, 1917-1989
Box
2 Manuals: Adjusters
Box
2 Manuals: Chinese
Box
2 Manuals: Directory of products and services, 1983
Box
2 Employee handbooks, circa 1965-1986
Box
2 Manuals: French
Box
2 Manuals: General
Box
2 Manuals: German
Box
2 Manuals: Italian
Box
2 Instruction books
Box
2 Manuals: Japanese
Box
2 Manuals: Machine Sewing, 1924-1950
Box
2 Manuals: Motors
Box
2 Manuals: Needle lists
Box
2 Manuals: Polish
Box
2 Manuals: Portugese
Box
3 Manuals: Products and services, 1983
Box
3 Manuals: Slav
Box
3 Manuals: Spanish
Box
3 Manuals: Swedish
Box
3 Patents: Miscellaneous sewing machines, 186-, 1932
Box
3 Patents: Singer procedures under foreign laws (2 volumes), 1908-1954
Box
3 Trade cards - Birds of America, 1900
Box
3 Miscellaneous Singer catalogs
Box
4 Miscellaneous Singer catalogs
Box
4 Catalog of Singer sewing machines, 1908
Box
4 Hebrew catalog, undated
Box
4 List of Singer sewing machines, 1924
Box
4 Singer surgical stiching instrument catalog, undated
Box
4 Trademarks: Album of logos
Box
4 Trademarks: Centennial trademark, 1951
Box
4 Trademarks: Corporate identification manuals, 1970s
Box
4 Trademarks: London office - Lists of documents relating to trademarks
Box
4 Trademarks: Manual, 1961
Box
4 Trademark registrations, Aden-Brazil
Box
5 Trademark registrations, British Guiana-Hungary
Box
6 Trademark registrations, Ireland-Saudi Arabia
Box
7 Trademark registrations, Sierra Leone-Zanzibar
Box
7 Trademarks: Sample book of thread spool labels used in Europe from Königs & Bücklers GmbH
Box
7 United States - Miscellaneous trademarks, patents and copyrights
Box
7 Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Co. - Original U.S. and Canada trademark registrations
Oversize
1 Singer sewing machine posters (one in Dutch, 1885)
Oversize
1 Wilson Sewing Machine Company broadside advertisement with 16 panels of multicolor litho of sewing machines on reverse
Oversize
1 Three issues of E'port Observer (employee newsletter), 1973-1974
Oversize
1 90th anniversary issue of The Singer Light with company history, 1941
Oversize
1 “The Merry Singer” by Henri Le Verne, sheet music, 1891
Oversize
1 Album and loose sheets of decals for lettering and figurative designs applied to Singer sewing machines