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Legacies: Collecting America's History at the Smithsonian, by Steven Lubar and Kathleen M. Kendrick
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Patent model of Isaac M. Singer's sewing machine, 1854Patent model of Isaac M. Singer's sewing machine, 1854

Singer received his first patent for a commercial sewing machine on August 12, 1851. Three years later he introduced a domestic model that made him one of the wealthiest Americans of the century. As with many inventor-entrepreneurs, Singer's success came not from mechanical skills but from a genius for marketing: he aggressively advertised his sewing machines to women consumers and sold them through a nationwide chain of company stores, which featured demonstrations and offered repair service. This model was donated in 1960 by the Singer Manufacturing Company.

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