Job A. Davis
Job A. Davis, an inventor from New York City, was granted is sewing machine patent, number 27,208, on February 21, 1860. It was the first in a long line of successful machine, until the Davis Sewing Machine Company closed its doors in 1924. He was granted another patent, 58,614, on October 9, 1866. A third, 99,067, was granted January 25, 1870. Shortly afterward, the machine that made Davis famous, the Davis Vertical Feed, was ready to sell. They moved the factory to Watertown, New York, and started pushing sales on the new machine.
Top feed machines were not a new innovation many were used in industry — but the Davis Vertical Feed was different and was offered for consumer service. The basic design featured a walking foot, which, in conjunction with the presser foot, moved the fabric from the topside only. The machine was popular in the farm belt because it could easily sew canvas, ducking, feed sacks, and any light leather goods.
In the sewing machine industry, the name Davis immediately conjures up the vertical feed machine, but the company also made many conventional models. During the era when they supplied Sears, Roebuck & Company with literally millions of Minnesota and lesser known name machines, Davis was one of the top manufacturers in the world.
Job Davis was granted patent 208,967, on October 15, 1878, for a new style oscillating shuttle-bobbin arrangement. Later, patent 251,195, issued on December 20, 1881, illustrated the emergence of the sewing machine head shape as we know it today. It also had the improved oscillating shuttle and bobbin case, tension assembly similar to our present-day variety, a thread take-up arm operating from a cam on the main shaft, and a two-way presser bar lifter. The main shaft was shifted to the upper arm, and the balance wheel was moved up to the extreme end of the main shaft. A later improvement, similar to one used earlier on the Florence machine, was a reverse lever. It was more functional because the lever could be adjusted for different stitch length. In 1886, plant operations were shifted to Dayton, Ohio, where they remained until 1924.
The factory, unnamed, adorned countless Sears, Roebuck & Company catalogs for more than twenty years.
The Davis Sewing Machine Company manufactured countless different machines during their tenure. Minnesota is the most famous, along with the Vertical Feed, but later models like the Davis Rotary were top quality merchandise. One of the better innovations was an adjustable needle plate. When the needle hole became worn from numerous needle strikes, the plate could be adjusted for continued use.
Davis cabinetry was top-quality. One of the big sellers was a model with all iron work and treadle concealed in a console-type cabinet. Lower price machines were set in oak cabinets, and top-line machines in the more expensive rosewood models.
1994 Vacuum & Sewing Hall of Fame Inductee