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The Atlas Sewing Machine Company
By Alex I Askaroff 

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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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  The Atlas Sewing Machine Company

London 1874-1914


The Atlas Sewing Machine Company Trademark

 

Atlas was the Greek god that held the world on his shoulders.

The strength and reliability of Atlas meant it was the perfect name for a sewing machine.

Although the Atlas Sewing Machine Company of Camden was trading for over 40 years hardly anything is know about the small sewing machine importers. I have spent many years collecting all I know about this elusive company. I hope you find it interesting.

 

The Atlas Sewing Machine circa 1874

In an advert in the Daily Express of 1900 The Atlas Machine Company stated that they had been established for 26 years. This would make the companies first trading year around 1874.


Atlas Sewing Machine Company

The Atlas Sewing Machine Company traded from 182 and 184c High Street in Camden Town , London, England . Later they added premises at  63 Seven Sisters Road and  14 High Road, Kilburn, London.

Their first imported Atlas model was the ‘A’ made by Bremer und Brückmann. This was a Elias Howe copy made under licence from his 1860’s design. The machine also sold as the Collier Advanced by Collier’s in Clapham Road, London and the Brunonia.

 
The Atlas Model A was sold under several names by diff
erent dealers

Then came the very popular vibrating shuttle model ‘B’ another German import which was made by the Grimme & Natalis Co, Braunschweig. The model 'B' clearly states on the bed made in Brunswick, which sounds so English. There seemed to be a thousand Brunswick's from Brighton to Scarborough but in reality it was a German import from Braunschweig.

Anything made before the 1890's Trade Descriptions Act was exempt from accurate description. Any company could claim, more or less, what they liked. Putting Brunswick on the bed would make buyers think they were buying British and not in fact the British pronunciation of 'Braunschweig,' Germany.

Very few importers bothered to point out the machine was German. One exception was Charles Bradbury as can be see in his advert further down.

 
The Atlas Ockstitch. Het there were nearly as bad at spelling as me! Nearly two pounds was a months wages in 1900! 

K. A. Natalis and Carl Grimme had been producing sewing machines independently but in December 1870 they joined forces. The model ‘B’ was fondly nicknamed the Brunswick Special. All model ‘B’s’ were guaranteed for a period of four years and retailed in 1900 for the princely sum of nearly two pounds. You will notice two model B Atlas machines. I can only assume that they switched suppliers half way through deliveries?


The Atlas model B sewing machine probably made by New Home Sewing Machine Company USA. See also the Atlas model D & G sewing machines below...

 

Remember the weekly average wage was probably only about ten shillings. So the machine would have been a months wages! You can see from  the advert that they had retail premises in Severn Sister Road and Kilburn High Road, London.  


You can see in this advert a few of the names of sewing machines that the Atlas Sewing Machine Company sold.

Several other wholesalers such as the Co-op or Co-operative Society sold the imported Atlas but under their own brand name. The badge below of a typical Grimme & Natalis is from Henry Webster.

The Atlas Sewing Machine Company imported machines from all over the world including Germany, America and Canada. From Canada they imported the Atlas Countess sewing machine which was actually made by Richard Mott Wanzer.


The Atlas B was sold under many names such as this one above

Atlas Sewing Machine Models

Atlas Model A

Atlas Model B, German and American models.

Atlas Model C

Atlas Model D (no gears, cam model)

Atlas Model G

Atlas Countess sewing machine

Atlas Original Princess sewing machine

Atlas Una sewing machine

Atlas New Family, a copy of the Singer 12

Atlas Improved Family sewing machine

The model B and the later model ‘C’ and ‘D’ were popular from the late 1880’s up until just before the First World War when many Germany companies switched to arms manufacturing. They also sold the Countess, the Original Princess and Una sewing machines.

 
The beautiful Atlas sewing machine Model B and my reflection and a rare Cookson in the corner, what more! This model was mad in German by the Grimme & Natalis Company who supplied several importers besides Atlas
.

There was a beautiful Atlas Mother of pearl inlay fiddlebase model, basically a smaller 3/4 size copy of the Singer New Family transverse shuttle.

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Although Grimme & Natalis made similar machines it could also have been imported from the German company that made the Vesta machine called LOD, short for L.O. Dietrich. They produced machines as early as 1871. Or possibly Gustav Winselmann of Altenburg , one of the oldest German sewing machine companies. They produced machines as early as 1853 and made a very similar model.


The Atlas Countess sewing machine, extremely rare today.


Here you can clearly see that the Atlas Countess and The Little Wanzer are identical. The girls looks a little miserable because in the old days of photography she would have had to remain perfectly still for 90 seconds. You cannot hold a smile for that long so the photographers would say to adopt a plain relaxed face.

Mother of pearl became so expensive that by the late Victorian period it had become un-commercial. Having to hand polish 15 layers of japanning to find the inlaid mother of pearl took endless hours of work, but how wonderful it looked.

The last machine I am aware of at the moment is the model ‘D’ imported from the Giant American New Home Sewing Machine Company previously the Gold Medal Sewing Machine Company and today trading as Janome.

 

Atlas Improved New Family sewing machine. Possibly a Winselmann, Grimme or Dietrich Import. Also called the Atlas Fiddlebase. Slightly smaller than their New Family model.

The Grimme & Natalis Company's Agent in Britain from 1883 until around 1887-9 was Charles Bradbury and Charles possibly organised the gold-work on the Atlas ‘B’ models to be designed for the Atlas Company.  There are several almost identical models, like the Empress, from that period probably all imported via an agent and supplied to different wholesalers and large stores.

 

Now, one additional point to mention is that there was an Atlas marketed in America around the same period, probably by the New Home Sewing Machine Co.


The Atlas model D Sewing Machine USA made by New Home.

I have not seen a mention of the British Atlas Company after the First World War and expect they ceased trading around that period. It makes sense as many of their machines were German imports and very few people in the UK bought anything German after the Great War.


The American made Atlas model D (probably made by New Home). Sold in the United Kingdom through the Atlas Company of Camden Road, London. Circa 1900-1910. It was clearly marked made in the USA.


The Atlas Model G sewing machine possibly made by New Home in the USA.

 

Also in America there was another sewing machine company in the 1950's that sold the Atlas Deluxe sewing machine which was made by the Japanese Brother Company but they are not connected to our British firm and it folded in 1962.


Atlas Deluxe sewing machine by Brother, Japan 1959

Values

Atlas sewing machines are rare far rarer than, for example, Singers or Jones machines. They do turn up now and again since Ebay came on line so you can occasionally pick up one of these rare old beauties.

The most expensive one I have seen in superb condition went for over £700, $1200 but it is all up to model and condition. More basic poor condition ones do not fetch that amount and I have never seen an Atlas Una sewing machine or Atlas Original Princess sewing machine come onto the market.

I hope you found this research useful and as I am constantly updating my information. If you found this page helpful or if  you have any details please do mail me.

Bye for now,

alexsussex@aol.com  

Time for a great story: Ena Wilf & the one-armed machinist

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

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Dear Alex,
First , let me thank you for your generosity in sharing the knowledge you have gained over 40+ years.  I am thrilled to have discovered your website and videos.
Jo-Ann Ward
NY
USA

Dear alex
I am from srilanka, your publication about sewing machine is very grate and wonderful.
I have old sewing machine my father said ’silent model’
thanks again.
upali madana

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