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Charles Raymond &

New England

Sewing Machines

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 Alex I Askaroff

 

 

 

Alex has spent a lifetime in the sewing industry and is considered one of the foremost experts of pioneering machines and their inventors. He has written extensively for trade magazines, radio, television, books and publications worldwide.

 

Over the last two decades Alex has been painstakingly building this website to encourage enthusiasts around around the Globe.
 

 
 

 

Most of us know the name Singer but few are aware of his amazing life story, his rags to riches journey from a little runaway to one of the richest men of his age. The story of Isaac Merritt Singer will blow your mind, his wives and lovers his castles and palaces all built on the back of one of the greatest inventions of the 19th century. For the first time the most complete story of a forgotten giant is brought to you by Alex Askaroff.

See Alex Askaroff on Youtube: A day in the life of a sewing machine engineer

Charles Raymond

Sewing Machine Pioneer


Charles Raymond 6 January 1826 - 4 January 1904

The New England Family Sewing Machine 1861


The classic hand painted Charles Raymond sewing machine circa 1861, often called New England design. There are few prettier sewing machines and all serious collectors hunt these beauties down. Harry Berzack has the largest collection of New England machines that I am aware of. I am hard on his tail though...

It has been a great pleasure researching Charles Raymond all these years. He seemed to be one of the only men who outwitted Isaac Singer and Elias Howe as well as other big boys engaged in the sewing machine wars of the 1850's.

Slowly, slowly I have pieced all the information together to bring you a small insight into one of the most successful sewing machine pioneers of the 19th Century. He was knocked back many times but the character of the man was made of stern stuff and each time he was knocked down he came back stronger.

At his prime he was the largest employer in his city and one of the most respected men of his generation.

In the page below I will give you a brief history of the amazing Charles Raymond, sewing machine pioneer.


In the 1860's the hand painted Raymond sewing machine was a thing of beauty and made a good stitch. The first Raymond Chain-stitch machines that Raymond & Nettleton produced used a simple walking foot and no under-feed. The needle actually stopped the work moving as the foot slipped over and then pulled the work forward for the next loop of the chain-stitch, simple but effective engineering. The walking foot was short lived as it needed to be perfectly set to work well and all too often the automatic tension went out. Because of this both the auto tension and walking foot were only on the earliest Raymond-Nettleton machines.

Youtube demonstration by Alex Askaroff on a rare walking foot Raymond circa 1859

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YNCUTFwKrt0&list=UL

By the 1850's Isaac Singer and many other sewing machine Entrepreneurs were well under way to becoming rich from manufacturing (and copying) all the best ideas that made a good sewing machine. Elias Howe was in the press almost daily with his wealth growing by the second. It must have occurred to budding engineer Charles Raymond that there was gold in them there hills!

A mechanical engineer by trade Charles Raymond had seen the beginning of the American sewing machine industry and was determined to be part of it.

Charles Raymond was born in Ashburnham, Massachusetts in the winter of 1826. He was the son of a carpenter, Daniel Raymond and his mum was Sarah Greene. Dad was a skilled carpenter, joiner and cabinet maker and would often get his son Charles to help around his workshop. This early grounding, between schooling and church, gave Charles the perfect start in tools and machinery.

Charles, called Chas by his friends, left his fathers employ at 17 and went to work as an apprentice machinist at The Massachusetts Cotton Mill Company in Lowell (possibly Boots Mill Museum today).

Once his apprentice was complete he went onto a daily wage (as a journeyman) where he worked for his living at the Cotton Mill. By the time Chas was 21 he was a well educated God fearing man who abstained from drink. On Aug 9th in 1847 he married Mary O Marston who was from the small town of Sharon in Vermont.

Charles had become a skilled mechanic used to the intricate mechanisms that produced cloth. Like Elias Howe it was a small step from Cotton and cloth making to sewing the fabric together.

Charles Raymond was there right at the birth of the sewing machine era. He was one of the early pioneers in the field and through the 1840's and 1850's he saw all the big ideas come to light and the even bigger egos behind some of the men who were later to become the richest men in America and fondly named by the press as 'The Sewing Machine Kings'.

Use only Geo A Clark, Dixon, Willimantic,
Or Cooley's linen thread,
No uneven thread will work!

While in Bristol Connecticut Charles Raymond had been working on a simple chain stitch machine and in 1851 he produced his first crude machine. By 1852 he was ready to market his single stitch machine and was immediately stamped on by the rough, tough, Isaac Singer. His idea had to be shelved as the cost of litigation would have destroyed our young entrepreneur.

So a few years went by but by 1856 Charles Raymond, still a budding businessman, was busy collecting information for his new venture. After meeting Willford, Wilfred or William Nettleton (his name seems to change through the years and papers I read) they prepared themselves for another stab at the sewing machine business in Bristol, Connecticut. Little did they know that it was going to be another rough ride.

Patent 17049

Assignors to Henry E Fickett, Glenn's Falls, New York. To all whom it may concern.
 Be it known that we, Willford H Nettleton and Charles Raymond, both of Bristol in the county of Hartford and the State of Connecticut, have invented, made and applied to use certain new and useful improvements in sewing machines.

April 14, 1857


This is the earliest Raymond-Nettleton in my collection, circa 1859, thinner castings and entirely hand made, possibly by one of the partners or his small team of workmen. By October of 1857 Nettleton & Raymond received their second patent and in March of 1858 their third patent for a much simpler chain stitch machine.

By 1858 Charles Raymond formed a legal partnership with Nettleton to produce a basic chain-stitch sewing machine and started basic manufacturing in an old forge and barn. To make ends meet while they attempted to make sewing machines they manufactured shears under licence using the patent of J E Hendricks.

Later that year they moved from their rented barn in Bristol, Connecticut to larger premises in Brattleboro, Vermont, USA where they built a small manufacturing plant and produced a pretty, hand painted sewing machine that did not sew brilliantly but got them a foothold in the expanding sewing machine market.

The machines went on to the market at $14 or even less for quantity. The Nettleton/Raymond machine was the smallest, easiest to use and cheapest machine on the market and only a tenth of the cost of a Singer or Grover & Baker.

Also remember that 'sewing by machine' was relatively new, so most customers had never seen a lock stitch or a chain stitch. Imagine you were out shopping in New York in 1858, you see a Grover & Baker machine, it is complicated and takes ages to learn, it is expensive (a years wages) and heavy. Next you see a Singer which is a big lump of steel and takes ages to thread and sew with.

Then you stumble across Theo Whitfield, agent for the new Raymond machine. It is much cheaper, incredibly easy to use, (needing only one thread), looks beautiful, and seems to join the work just as well. So you think about it over an early Starbucks and go back to Theo, pay your ten dollars and take the machine home on your mule. That night by the light of the candle your family watch in amazement as you magically join together fabric by machine. The future was here! It was this ease of use and price that brought in Nettleton & Raymond big orders.


Here you can just make out 'Patent Applied For' showing this model is pre 1861 and possibly one of the very first Raymond-Nettleton machines. Note the unusual reel tensioner. By 1861 this was replaced as it wore on the castings very quickly. This is the earliest Raymond in my Sewalot Collection. You can also see the delicate hand painting more like an oil on canvas.


Only a handful of early Brattleboro Raymond machines survive to this day. This one is in my Sewalot Collection, I have two hehe. Oh I must take the pills...

New England Sewing Machine Makers

I had better quickly explain the term 'New England Sewing Machine'. This term has been applied to the basic shape of the Raymond 'type' chain stitch.


This is one of the several New England clones of the Raymond machine, made by J G Folsom. Notice the hollow-thinner casting rather than the solid ones on the Raymond models.

There were several manufacturers based around the Tri State Area, all making similar shaped machines. Because Nettleton & Raymond (and around six other sewing machine makers in the same period) produced such similar models the term 'New England' was born.

The Wilson Common Sense Sewing Machine
Manufactured by
The Wilson Sewing Machine Manufacturing Company
Cleveland, Ohio


Note how the Wilson Common Sense Sewing Machine was also called The Wilson New England Sewing Machine.

The manufacturers were mainly in the six states around the New England-Connecticut area of the north-eastern United States. The most successful besides Raymond appears to be Folsom. He managed to set up several times in different locations and produce a limited number of New England sewing machines until 1865.

This is a rare Shaw & Clark New England model circa 1868, notice the classic wavy edge castings but also the pillar design that was used on their later more common 'fire hydrant' models.

New England Makers circa 1858-1869

Thomas H White & Samuel Barker, Brattleboro (they made the Brattleboro sewing machine).

In 1862 White joined William Grout in Massachusetts to manufacture machines.

Grout & White, Orange, Massachusetts, (Grout then made machines on his own in Winchendon).

Wilson Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co, Cleveland Ohio.

J G Folsom, Winchendon, Massachusetts. Bristol, Connecticut and Brattleboro.

Grant Brothers or Grant & Company, 3rd Street Philadelphia.

Shaw & Clark, Biddeford Maine.

 


The Grant Brothers New England family had a standard Wheeler & Wilson four-motion-feed with a Raymond looper.

Shaw & Clark were based in Biddeford Maine and for a few short years, before the legal team of the Sewing machine Kings caught and prosecuted them, they sold machines infringing on the main patent holders of the time. However once they were forced to pay a licence fee for every single machine they made they used it to their full extent. In their advertising they (falsely) claimed that anyone caught buying a 'non-licensed' machine were prosecuted. For a few short years Grover & Baker, Elias Howe, Isaac Singer and Wheeler & Wilson ruled supreme as The Sewing Machine Kings. However like Shaw & Clark it was short lived. Shaw & Clark machines are extremely rare today and can fetch huge sums at auction.

 

Shaw & Clark


This fascinating badge was put onto all Shaw & Clark machines (after they had to pay a licence fee). It shows all the main patent holders from the famous 1846 patent of Elias Howe to the later Singer and Grover & Baker patents. Those 10 patents from 1846 to 1864 held back mass production of sewing machines for over 14 years. Note Elias Howe's name has not been included (as he had died in 1867) but his 1846 patent had to be there for legal reasons.

Now back to our old friend Raymond. Charles Raymond most likely had southern sympathies which would explain the seven stars that he put on much of his early advertising. This may have also been a little dig at the 'Yankee Americans' who, as you will find out, forced him out of his own country into Canada. It wasn't all bad news, the lad made his fortune there.

Our budding entrepreneurs journey

Big things were going on in the sewing world in the 1850's and entrepreneurs and investors saw huge potential in this new fangled machine that joined cloth quickly. Many of these investors were cold-blooded big money men and they knew that all opposition obviously needed to be crushed at birth.

Business was booming for Nettleton & Raymond and before long Charles and his pal employed two-dozen workmen and three young lads to fetch and carry and an office girl for the paperwork.

Chas had a great little machine, cheap and easy to use with the simplest threading of any sewing machine yet invented. The adverts were bringing in a good response and yet more expansion was needed. All this time the machines were improving, if you study the early 1860 machines you can see the many minor differences as they perfected their little superstar.


The earliest Raymond machines had a thin casting incorporating the needleplate as part of the one-piece bed. By 1860 This was replaced with a removable needleplate. I bought this machine from my fellow collector and friend Maggie Snell. I knew it would be a cracker as she seems to find some amazing pieces.

"Rub hard shaving soap into
Thick cloth for a smooth stitch"

However the Indians were circling and there was trouble at the camp. It was not long before (once again) powerful law suits were brought against Raymond and Nettleton for patent infringement. Even though some were unfounded a nice drawn out law suit would close most businesses and had been used by the Sewing Machine Kings many times to close down competition that grew too large.


This shows one of Raymond's early patents July 30 1861. Now with the new removable needle plate

Charles had several patents, all legal and applied for in America, Canada and Britain, but that made little difference to the lawyers whose job was to destroy all opposition by any legal means. Isaac Singer had patented a similar idea slightly earlier than Charles Raymond and it was enough to tie Raymond up in expensive litigation.


Note the clever walking foot that simply dragged the work forward. This was only used on the early Raymond machines as it jammed on thicker work.

It looked like their new business was, once again, going to bite the dust almost as soon as it got started. However Raymond noticed on examination of the patents that they were only for America and Canada was exempt, still a virgin territory as far as sewing machines were concerned.

April 14, 1857 two thread chain stitch machine
Willford H. Nettleton & Charles Raymond


Another Sewalot first on the Internet the Raymond-Nettleton patent sewing machine of 1857. The ideas went into production but not the beautifully cast and ornate silver plated patent design. Only one is known to exist.

To avoid the law suits Raymond and Nettleton had to shut down their American business. The big money men probably all lit up cigars poured sippin' whisky and all had a good laugh. But Charles Raymond was far from finished.

Charles Raymond quietly moved some of his equipment to Montreal but that proved a disaster and almost 30% of his hard earned investment capital was lost in one bad move.

Charles Raymond sat down and did his homework properly. Next time he found the ideal new town, north of the border where he could produce his $10 beauty.

Guelph

Guelph in Ontario, Canada, offered Charles Raymond everything he needed and was exempt from patent protection from the big boys down south.

Guelph was founded on St George's Day April 23, 1827. The growing town was ideal, located beside the Speed and Eramosa Rivers which flow through the town. Originally the town was named to honour Britain's royal family descending from the Guelfs.

John Galt, the Scottish novelist, designed the town to attract settlers and built the town to resemble a European city with squares and wide streets and little narrow lanes connecting roads leading to a grand square all around a clever basic layout of a ladies fan.

Charles Raymond, back in the good old USA, offered his men a new life in Canada if they would follow him and help him start a-new. Sixteen key workers moved with Charles Raymond with only one later returning home. He probably got upset at Charles Raymond's no drinking rule!

In all my research I cannot find any mention of Nettleton at the Guelph factory so it may be around this point in 1861 that the men parted company.

The Raymond Lock-stitch
Patent 32785, 1861


The Chas Raymond sewing machine of 1861. Note the reel of thread under the sewing machine. This was a lock-stitch machine. Patent No 32785. I was so excited when I discovered this patent. Train spotters have nothing on me! Harry Berzack currently knows where one lives, it may be unique.


This is a super rare picture of a twin thread Raymond Lock stitch sewing machine. Note the extra reel of thread on the back going to the hook area.

In the autumn of 1861 Charles Raymond opened Guelph's first sewing machine factory. Strangely although Charles Raymond was a huge beneficiary to the young town little mention of him is currently made in Guelph's history. Hopefully that will change as it comes to light all the good deeds he did for the city. I feel another statue coming on...


Note the plate that Raymond used covering part of the looper, developed on the 1861 models. The machines went through constant minor alterations and improvements.

Charles Raymond's business flourished over the coming years and during the 1860's competition from America slumped as they fought their Civil War. His move to Canada had proved to be perfectly timed. All the time Raymond was gathering worldwide patents and slowly stretching out across the Globe. This was to prove a great success when other companies (trading within their own borders) were hit by the oncoming recession. In Canada his factories grew along with the prosperity of the town itself.



The Raymond Factory on the corner of Suffolk and Yarmouth Street Guelph, Ontario, Canada.


 

Originally the site of the Arms and Worswick Sewing Machine Co, bought by Charles Raymond in 1875 after a fire destroyed his old wooden factory.


The Raymond Factory is on the right but to the left of this picture kindly supplied by Mary Gillett you can see Charles Raymond's own grand house complete with white picket fence.

Some of the buildings still exist today including Charles Raymond's house.
 You can see them through Google Maps, (Norfolk and Yarmouth Streets).

Free from most patent litigation his business boomed and he protected himself with further patents in Canada, America and Europe. He wasn't going to get burnt by Singer again!

Much of his new prosperity was due to his cheap manufacturing. Charles Raymond was able to sell his first chain stitch machine at $12 then $10, a fraction of the price of other makes like Singer and Howe machines. Also his machines were small and light and by now stitched a good seam, although still only as a chain-stitch.

Charles Raymond had designed and patented a lockstitch by 1861, complete with a reel of thread under the machine, like the Grover & Baker. But he was doing so well with his little chainstitch that full mass production of the Raymond lockstitch was years away.


This model from the Berzack Collection has an added on skirt to weigh down the machine when sewing. How many of these are original is anyone's guess.

To sew De Laines or other unstarched cloth
Use smooth newspaper underneath.
It will leave you with nice work.

 

In 1869 Mary, his beloved wife died. His son had died when he was young but his two daughters, Emma A Raymond and Ada F Raymond were grown, and probably proved immensely helpful in getting Charles over this difficult time. Emma Raymond married John B Miner who was a confectioner from Brantford, Ontario. While the eldest daughter, Emma, married John Crowe, who worked for Charles in his foundry in Guelph.

However love soon blossomed and in 1870 Charles married for a second time to an old friend, Helen Janet Gill, who was a girl that he had first met in Brattleboro. To complete his new family they adopted a son and daughter. Once more Charles Raymond could get down to business.


This rare model is the Raymond No1, another first for the Internet. The picture was kindly sent in by Jane in Nova Scotia in Feb of 2016 and is the first real one that I have seen. It just shows that they are out there! Notice the beaver trade mark.


Look at this beauty that turned up in France, kindly sent in by Y. Fatin. This is the finest I have seen so far and it hasn't even been cleaned yet!


The Raymond No1 lockstitch sewing machine woodcut with patented shuttle and hemming foot.

With the help of the latest steam powered machines his factories grew and grew and By 1871 Charles Raymond employed 76 workers including 14 children also 19 women to hand paint and decorate his machines (seven in the office). His business turned out over 10,000 machines a year and he was becoming one of the largest sewing machine manufacturers in Canada. However production would slow up in the oncoming recession.

Chas Raymond is currently seeking to employ!
Both skilled and unskilled may apply
$6 per week & bonuses (skilled).
Apply to the Works Foreman


The Raymond Sewing Machine Company Trademark, a wild Beaver. First used in 1872 on his Raymond Household Lockstitch Sewing Machine. The beaver was used by Raymond many years before it became a national symbol for Canada!

In 1872 his skilled workers earned a dollar a day plus bonuses for reaching production targets.


The beaver was put onto many of Charles Raymond's machines. This one is from his Weir/Raymond chainstitch. Legend tells the beaver (and the wealth it brought) was one of the biggest draws to explore Canada. You might like to read about The Luton Hat Trade.

Markets in America fell dramatically after a long recession starting around 1870 and import restrictions were imposed so Charles Raymond looked further afield to fill his market. This is where his global expansion many years earlier was paying back big dividends.

Australian Agents
W T Stevens
Ballarat & Geelong
Victoria

Charles Raymond sought out countries all over the world and took on agents and importers, especially in the big European and British markets.

Charles Raymond had hit the big time. His Yarmouth Street factories were producing a little cracker of a chain-stitch sewing machine which was widely copied and has become popularly known as the 'New England' style.

I am sure to annoy his American competitors Charles Raymond called his little Canadian beauty 'The American Hand Machine'. Cheeky!


This is a rare sight of an early advertisement for Charles Raymond's first production machine, sold as the Family and Improved Family machine in Canada.


Louis Beckh, Mannheim. Here is a rare cover for the German Raymond imports kindly sent in by Odile. It shows that Raymond lost no time in expanding his worldwide markets when his American markets hit trouble.

  The Weir-Raymond Connection


J G Weir 1839-1911

Now, Britain was one of Charles Raymond's biggest markets outside America. In Britain Charles Raymond dealt with James Weir. For a period they were inextricably linked so I must include a little of James weir's history here (even though he has his own Weir page).

In the 1860ís James Galloway Weir, a Scotsman with a canny business sense, saw the potential for a cheap machine in the Victorian market. As a travelling salesman for a haberdashery company he travelled the width and breadth of England constantly meeting customers who needed sewing machines.

He knew the potential of a cheap and portable machine. He later met his first wife on his travels near me in Brighton, East Sussex.

Laws prohibiting how you advertised your wares were scarce and hard to enforce in the 1860's. In 1863 Weir set up as an importer or commission agent. He imported the beautiful small and cheap Raymond Chainstitch sewing machine from Canada and called it his own.


This is a woodcut of the later improved Weir based on the Raymond sewing machine possibly by a French manufacturer (but no evidence has yet surfaced).

And So the British Weir/Raymond sewing machine business was established. James had spent some time in Canada and had struck up a relationship with Charles Raymond the Canadian machine manufacturer. It was only natural that he saw the potential of a business relationship between the two.

The son of James Ross Weir, James Galloway Weir was born in 1839. He was a man on the move by his early 20's he was already importing machines from the other side of the globe. His first machine, the Lady, was a German imported chain stitch. However James was looking for a cheaper more reliable machine and he found them in Guelph, Canada. 

The machine was know under various names such as Improved Common Sense and Globe.

Chas Raymond Patent 1052

The Globe sewing machine

The Weir Globe sewing machine of 1869, identical to Weir's other models but sporting patent 1052

The name that really stuck in America was, The New England Machine. It is interesting to note that Weir himself advertised these machines in Britain as The American Hand Machine, though they were from Canada!

Back in Britain it was not until the Trades Description Act of 1890 that people were banned from stating they made an item that they in fact just imported. Many importers got away with false descriptions until 1890. Thomas Shakespeare also imported, or possibly copied, the Raymond machines and marked them The Royal Sewing Machine Company, Birmingham, England. These are super rare machines today and few have survived.

1890 was many years away and James Weir happily marketed the Raymond machines under his own name, right up until 1885 he was claiming to be a manufacturer and in truth may have had some input to the machines design because of his relationship with Raymond.

The fact that J G Weir states that he made his own machines is possibly true later on in his career but no one has yet ascertained positive proof that he made any machines from scratch. As an importer it would seem like a whole different profession. Few importers bother to manufacture even today.


Sperm Whales were hunted for their bright burning candles, lamp oil and sewing machine oil!

The Raymond company initially produced chain-stitch machines. They were exported world-wide. In Canada Charles hired Orlando Dunn as his main agent for Toronto. In Europe his agents included William Moore in Ireland, P Frank in Liverpool (who was also an agent for Richard Mott Wanzer and was initially an importer for Raymond machines) and finally our man in London James Weir. P. Frank was established in 1863 and became Raymond's main importer after the acrimonious split with J G Weir.


Frank, in Liverpool, was an importer for Raymond sewing machines from 1863.

Raymond had sold his London machines through the Highbury Sewing Machine Co of 75 or 73 Holloway Road North, London, but soon supplied Weir with most of his machines. For a few years all went well with the Raymond and Weir partnership.

A very rare note from Weir advertising his New American in my Sewalot Collection.

But by the late 1870's Raymond's production in Canada was in trouble as were several other Canadian sewing machine companies. With the American Civil War over competition from the huge American manufacturers on their doorstep was proving too much. A recession hit North America in the late 1870's that lasted a decade.

During this time the same Charles Raymond machine was sold under many names from the Household Fairy to the Star.

The American Sewing Machine Company
Family Sewing Machine
The Star (7stars)
Chas Raymond machines


The Raymond Star sold in Britain during the 1870's. Probably to the disgust of J G Weir after their break.

We know that James Weir and Charles Raymond had some sort of falling out and supplies from Canada to James Weir suddenly ceased. Did Charles Raymond find out that James Weir was about to produce his own model? Did Charles Raymond put his prices up too much? We will probably never know. In all probability it was a bit of both, Weir had seen more and more agents popping up selling Raymond machines and this was cutting into his profits. The canny Scot had probably been searching for a decent manufacturer to copy the Raymond machine for some time.

None Genuine unless marked with our Soho Address!

J G Weir

Once the collaboration between Weir and Raymond was over, the Scotsman was livid and from then on made sure all his machines were clearly marked with his London address. This was to let his customers know that other supplies from Canada flooding Britain were not 'his' Weir machines but Chas fought back.

Whight & Mann
Agents For
Raymond Machines

For example Charles Raymond secured Whight & Mann of Holborn, London, as his London agents. Whight & Mann had sold the beautiful Prima Donna sewing machine. He sold his standard Raymond chainstitch machine to Whight & Mann as well, infuriating Weir who was just around the corner in London. I have to wonder if James Weir didn't have a sneaky peek in Whight & Mann's shop window!

Raymond, also not happy at the split, even went so far as to take out adverts in trade magazines letting everyone know that they had broken up and where to secure his 'original' Raymond machines.

The French Connection


The Globe Sewing Machine of 1874. Typical of the New England / Weir / Raymond models

After his split with the Raymond Company, for whatever reason, James Weir quickly found a French manufacturer who was already making bases for Raymond machines. Weir may have influenced the French base makers to produce his popular model.

'La Favorite Des Dames'
Machine A Coudre Raymond
La Canadienne
H Vigneron
70 Boulevard Sebastopol
Paris


This is one of the French made Raymond copies by Henry Vigneron, very similar to Raymond's machine with the added bonus of an adjustable central gear to mesh the top and bottom gears perfectly. I believe that only the French models (built by Vigneron) had this adjustment so you can tell which he imported from Raymond to sell and which ones he made himself.

This was possibly Seeling's of Paris possibly in partnership with Ms Goodwin of Paris. However I am unsure of this so if you happen to know mail me this instant!


A rare Seeling base to a Raymond machine kindly sent in by Odile.

Compagnie Francaise des machines a coudre Vigneron

I do know that Henry Vigneron took over Seeling's business when he died (and married Seeling's widow). After a big payout from a sucessful law suit against Wheeler & Wilson Vigneron started producing his own machines. By 1884 he was producing nearly 8,000 machines a year. If you have any extra info I would be delighted: alexsussex@aol.com.  


A few of my Raymond-Weir machines. They make an eye catching display in my Sewalot Collection.

Back to Charles Raymond

Now that Weir is out of the way we can get back to Charles Raymond. We need to back-peddle a little.

By 1871 Charles Raymond had been a busy boy. A big factory with a nice house opposite to walk across the road from each morning. Lots of new ideas and new machines coming on line, and at last some proper lockstitch machines, models 1, 2 and 3. All basically the same machine but increasing in size for light to heavy work.

Interestingly Charles Raymond never copied his main competitors machines in Canada, (Richard Mott Wanzer). This showed a deal of character of the man.

Lockstitch Patent No 1433

In April of 1872 Charles Raymond applied for his Improved Lockstitch Sewing Machine and later that year he was granted his first Canadian Patent for a lockstitch No 1433.


A rare Raymond trade card for the New Raymond circa 1878, Mike Smith.

In 1875 disaster struck with a fire destroying most of the old wooden works. A spark from the foundry caught in some old straw that had been badly cleared from the stables (remember there were lots of children who worked at the plant) and wind blew it onto the old dry wooden buildings. Before long the entire works were consumed in flame. By the time his works manager, J Sully, came flying into the restaurant, where Charles was eating with some of his fellow Guelph politicians, the factory was little more than rubble and ashes. I guess that gave him heartburn.

Attachments for New Raymond Sewing Machines

Charles Raymond was not a man to be knocked down easily, he acted quickly buying out another local sewing machine competitor that had started up, the Arms and Worswick Co, and used their premises and staff while rebuilding his old works, this time in brick! Amazingly by the end of the year production had only fallen by 27%. Within two years it had not only matched previous years but stormed by it.

As new production and foundry came on line his latest machine was a beauty.

 
The Charles Raymond High-Arm sewing machine. Notice the CR logo on the plate next to the Raymond name, This changed to RM in 1895just before he retired in 1897. If your machine is marked CR it is probably pre 1895 and RM, Raymond Manufacturing post 1895.

 


The Raymond Manufacturing Company Ltd, Canada 1890 model

All this pressure took its toll and in 1877 Charles Raymond suffered badly with his health and decided to have a break. The two factories were now employing over 200 men 11 women and 28 young lads. The business was well run and the factory managers almost ran the place anyway when Charles was hit by his constant illnesses. Charles Raymond had no worries when he was away as the business was in the excellent hands of J G Sully and Christian Kloepfer.

22/9/1878
Winder improvement patent

Time away from his factories allowed Charles Raymond time to play and, as a keen politician, inventor and philanthropist his mind was always occupied with new ideas.

J F Sherlock, General Agent for
Raymond Sewing Machines
222 Dundas Street
London

In 1879 Charles Raymond and a couple of his friends installed Guelph's first telephone exchange, remarkably early for the time. Charles Raymond was amongst the leading Guelph men of the day and he had a hand in most important decisions that influenced the growing town. For example he was a member of the school board, building the Central School, director of the Guelph Railway, instrumental for his business. A member of the hospital governors (where he later died) and even the County Poor House.

It is interesting to note that by 1880 Charles Raymond was still only making four distinct sewing machine models but they were making around 700 complete sewing machines a week!

7/5/1880
Further winder improvement patent

In 1886 Raymond became an alderman. He belonged to the Guelph board of trade and Canadian Manufacturers Association. He oversaw the construction of several important buildings in Guelph many still standing today. Deeply religious he was a deacon of the Guelph First Baptist Church and read sermons regularly there. It was with his help and donations that the church was built on Woolwich Street. Charles Raymond was also a friend of the Black community in the town and an active member of the Guelph Board for Foreign Missions. All-in-all an opinionated but thoroughly decent human being. Something to be proud off.

"It is to the personal efforts of Charles Raymond
that the people of Guelph are largely indebted."
The Guelph Herald 1880

It is interesting to note that there was almost no notable landmark in Guelph that Charles did not have a hand in. There was no wonder he was worn out. However, he hated drink and no one who worked for him was allowed to drink. He abstained even from a celebration tipple. In fact he once ran for local office on a platform of alcohol abstinence and lost badly. Obviously the other Guelph inhabitants did not quite see eye to eye with him on his moral crusade.

The Raymond Manufacturing Company Limited

In 1895 Charles Raymond incorporated his business to become the Raymond Manufacturing Company Limited.


The Charles Raymond High-Arm sewing machine. Notice the CR logo on the plate left of the Raymond name, This changed to RM in 1895 just before Charles Raymond retired in 1897. If your machine is marked CR it is probably pre 1895 and RM, Raymond Manufacturing post 1895.

By 1897 Charles Raymond decided enough was enough. He was getting old and in failing health so at the age of 71 he sold the Raymond M C Co to his faithful factory manager Sully, and his old partner Chris Kloepfer.

You would think that Charles Raymond would put his feet up and take it easy. I wonder if he kept his old mansion opposite the factory and used to sit in the garden watching his old business while puffing on his pipe? I know that although he retired he still kept playing with his sewing machines working on ideas including the latest new idea of petroleum engines right up until his death in 1904.

Charles Raymond's monument is within the Woodlawn Memorial Park, Woolwich Street, Guelph.

Charles Raymond was 78 when he died in the same month of his birth following a failed operation on his bladder. It is quite possible that Charles Raymond knew his time was near for he gave most of his wealth away in several bequests before his death and when he died it was with almost no riches, just a few thousand dollars and his grand home.

Despite new models, without his inspiration and guidance the Raymond Manufacturing Company Limited floundered.

In 1916 the Raymond Sewing Machine Co was sold to the giant White Sewing Machine Company that survives to this day. They immediately put up prices of the Raymond machines which lead to a massive drop in orders. What a surprise.

In 1922 the White Company decided to shut down their plant in Guelph. Today some of the factory buildings still survive as apartments.

John Sheen & Co
Rattray Street, Dunedin
South Island, New Zealand
Main agents for the famous
Raymond Household sewing Machine
Over 5,000 models sold
Prices from £4.4s
Also available
The Raymond Home Shuttle

There were several versions of this Raymond Household all highly collectable today


The Chas Raymond Household sewing machine circa 1870. I sold this machine to a Canadian collector many years ago.

In all the years Raymond produced only eight distinct models with about 14 different versions. For example the Raymond Family had 11 different names from the household Fairy to The New American.

The first and second Chas Raymond sewing machine models are the most sought after which were the Raymond Family and the Raymond Household.


 

Most of us know the name Singer but few are aware of his amazing life story, his rags to riches journey from a little runaway to one of the richest men of his age. The story of Isaac Merritt Singer will blow your mind, his wives and lovers his castles and palaces all built on the back of one of the greatest inventions of the 19th century. For the first time the most complete story of a forgotten giant is brought to you by Alex Askaroff.

Books by Alex Askaroff

And so once more we come to the end of our history on one of the great early pioneers in the sewing world.

See Alex Askaroff on Youtube: A day in the life of a sewing machine engineer
 

 
 

Well that's it, I do hope you enjoyed my work. I have spent a lifetime collecting, researching and writing these pages and I love to hear from people so drop me a line and let me know what you thought: alexsussex@aol.com.

Also if you have any information to add I would love to put it on my site. And spelling mistakes! I love this picture of me how I wish my grey hair was that dark now...

 

 

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Hello Alex,

Our researcher just came across your article on Charles Raymond. Itís timely for us because, as the historical cemetery in Guelph, his monument is within our grounds. It is a magnificent family lot with a fence around it, as was the style in those days. We are gathering information on the family and the lot in an attempt to preserve the fence. Some suggestion has been made to have it removed. We are putting information together on the family to ensure the historical value of the lot is recognized, even if it is in bad condition, We believe it would be worth fund raising to preserve it. In the photo, it actually doesnít look too bad, but we will not repair unless it is in the same format as originally used when the fence was made, and that makes it a little more difficult. Thought you might like to know that your interesting article is being put to use.


Ceska Brennan
Memorial Designer & Officiant
Woodlawn Memorial Park
Guelph,

Hello. My name is Quintin. I live in the states. Oklahoma as a matter of fact. I wanted to tell you that I am a HUGE fan of your sewing machine videos. You have a gorgeous collection of machines that I would die to see some day.
Quintin P USA

 

 Skylark Country don't miss this...

See Alex Askaroff on Youtube: A day in the life of a sewing machine engineer

 

 

 

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As a new collector I have found your site has increased my knowledge in a short time to a degree that I couldn't have imagined.
Thank you again for all the useful information you give freely to us.
Kind regards
Brenda P