The Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company
The Wheeler & Wilson Manufacturing Company : Sewing Machines. Branch, 71, Union Street.—
In noticing the Glasgow branch of the Wheeler & Wilson Sewing Machine Manufacturing Company, it is not our intention to enter into any minute particulars by way of describing their various productions. Indeed, if we had sufficient space at our command to do so, which we have not, we feel that we could not do justice to their wonderful inventions. The celebrated firm of Wheeler & Wilson was founded in the year 1851 by Nathaniel Wheeler and Allen B. Wilson, at Bridgeport, Connecticut, United States, America. The enormous factory at Bridgeport covers seven acres of land, and finds employment for considerably over three thousand hands. It is not for us to declare dogmatically that Wheeler & Wilson’s sewing machines eclipse all others. If, however, the palm is to be awarded to the firm which has received the largest and most widespread patronage, then Wheeler & Wilson come off victorious.
At the Vienna Universal Exhibition of 1873 this firm, out of a large list of competitors, obtained the “Grand Medal of Progress ” and the “Grand Medal of Merit”, and the senior partner of the firm (or president of the company), the Hon. Nathaniel Wheeler, had conferred upon him by the Emperor of Austria the knight’s cross of the imperial order of Francis Joseph, as being the founder and builder of the sewing machine industry. Again, at the Paris Exhibition, 1878, they obtained the Grand Prize over eighty-one competitors. At all the great Exhibitions throughout the world, from the London Exhibition of 1862 down to the late International Health Exhibition, Wheeler & Wilson’s machines have obtained the highest honours awarded, and the company — as it is now termed — are “by appointment” sewing machine makers to H.R.H. the Princess of Wales, and are also contractors to her Majesty’s Government.
The company manufacture a variety of machines adapted for different kinds of work, such as plain sewing, hemming, tucking, felling, frilling and puffing, gathering and gauging, binding, quilting, cording, braiding, embroidering, &c. ; also heavier descriptions of machines for manufacturing purposes, some being fitted for working by steam or other power. In fact, one or other of their machines is capable of stitching materials as different in character as the finest muslin and the strongest workable leather. Their specialities are the automatic buttonhole machine, which makes over three thousand finished holes per day ; the leather seam trimmer, and attachments for blind stitching and ornamental long-stitch work.
The head office for Scotland is situated at 71, Union Street, Glasgow. The establishment is a large and commodious one, and has an imposing frontage. All the various styles of machines adapted for every class of work are on view in the spacious showrooms, and young ladies are always in attendance to show the capabilities of each machine to intending purchasers. In the rear of the showroom is a saloon which is divided into four compartments, viz. the manager’s, clerks’, travellers', and canvassers’, and in the lower flat are situated the storeroom, mechanics’ shop, and showroom for factory castings, &c.
The company do an enormous trade in Glasgow, and employ a very numerous staff in the several departments of the business, and the establishment is managed with great ability and upon the best possible lines. The company’s representative in Glasgow is Mr. William F. Fair, who is responsible for all Scotch business.
It may not be out of place here to give a short sketch of their exhibit at the International Exhibition (1888), where they have some twenty machines running by power in the machinery section. These machines are used for manufacturing boots, shoes, and other leather goods, stays and corsets, shirts and collars, caps and clothing, binding lace curtains, hemstitch and French veining, buttonholing, &c. The most interesting is the automatic buttonhole machine, on which complete buttonholes are turned out in such quantities as to perfectly astonish the onlooker. The arrangement for each operator starting or stopping her machine is very complete, having perfect command over it, running fast or slow at will. Beside each operator is a hand lever, with which in case of accident she can stop the main shaft instantly. Another important improvement should also be noticed, viz. a patent automatic swing stool for operators in factories. This is fixed to floor and bench, and provides a comfortable seat, but as soon as vacated goes automatically under bench, so that no one can stumble over or break it.
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