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Dating Willcox & Gibbs 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 world wide.

 

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Check out the complete history of:Willcox & Gibbs 

 

 

 
 

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.

 

I have a short Youtube clip on the machine as well.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OdeINfVy8pM&feature=youtu.be

Willcox & Gibbs dating

Dating W&G chain stitch machines is not an exact art but this is a close as we are going to get.

There were good years and bad with sewing machine production so numbers can vary greatly from year to year.

Year   Numbers made

1857  1-10,000
1858  10,001-20,000
1859  20,001-30,000
1860  30,001-40,000
1861  40,001-50,000
1862  50,001-60,000
1863  60,001-70,000
1864  70,001-80,000
1865  80,001-90,000
1866  90,001-100,000
1867  100,001-115,000
1868  115,001-130,000
1869  130,001-145,000
1870  145,001-160,000
1871  160,001-190,127
1872  190,128-223,766
1873  223,767-239,647
1874  239,648-253,357
1875  253,358-267,879
1876  267,880-279,637
1877  279,638 - 324,999
1878  325,000 -
1880  365,000 -

 
1905--1906  540,001 - 550,000
1907--1908  550,001 - 560,000
1909--1911  560,001 - 570,000
1912--1913  570,001 - 580,000
1913--1914  580,001 - 590,000
1915--1916  590,001 - 650,000
1917--1921  650,001 - 660,000

Manufacturing of the Chain stitch slowly dropped until production ceased later in the 20th century.

Note: Willcox & Gibbs manufactured several other types of sewing machine and continued for decades with their industrial machines.

Sometime around 1877-1880 most W&G chain stitch machines were prefixed with the letter A though there was a B series as well (scalloped bases) and to add more confusion there was a later series (grey electric) with no letter like the first pre-1877 ones and the free-arm hat machines which had a letter S prefix.

Early rare Willcox & Gibbs 1870 model chain stitch machine


This is the pre 1875 model without automatic tensioner and no letter A prefix before the serial number.

What we are going to do here is concentrate on the letter A prefix models which make up the majority of post 1876/7 machines.

Willcox & Gibbs hat chains stitch model 200 series had an S letter prefix before the serial number


Willcox & Gibbs 200 free arm hat machine

 

Example of letter A prefix Willcox & Gibbs chain stitch sewing machine post 1875

Dating your Willcox & Gibbs sewing machine

To work out an approximate date of for the A series (only for machines with the letter A, Automatic, before the number) try this formula. This is by no means perfect but does work in many cases. You must pick the date which is between the two methods below.

Method A.

Take the number from the sewing machine above, ignore the A, (545351), minus 279638 from it. Divide by 17500. Answer, 15.1836. Ignore everything but the first two digits (15). Add this to 1877. 1877 + 15, bingo date...1892. 

Now using the Courtney Willis method of dating the Willcox & Gibbs sewing machines (with the A, Automatic prefix).

Method B.

Divide your serial number (in our instance A545351) by 8,000. Ignore the numbers after the decimal point and then add the first two numbers to 1838. The date for the our machine becomes 1906.

Finally.

Take the middle date from the two methods, 1906 and 1892. Approximate year of manufacture for the above machine becomes around 1900. Just a few years from correct.

 

By averaging the two dates in the middle, using both A + B methods, you may get close to your manufacturing date.


Here is a great invoice for a new W&G in 1911 with the serial number 578938 sent to me. By using method B we can date this machine to 1910, allowing for a period of time between manufacture and sale method B shows a perfect outcome.

I do hope that helps you work out a rough age of your little W&G machine.

If anyone out there has better records of the W&G machines or worked out a better dating system for the missing W&G dates please do let me know: alexsussex@aol.com

Willcox & Gibbs history  

Copyright   

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.

Fancy a funny story: Ena Wilf & the one-armed Machinist

News Flash!

Both my latest books, Sussex Born and Bred, and Corner of the Kingdom
 are now available instantly on Kindle and iPad.

        

 
  Well that's it, I do hope you enjoyed my work. I spend countless hours 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

A brilliant slice of 1940's life: Spies & Spitfires


Alex's stories are now available to keep. Click on the picture for more information.

 
 

 

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