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Writer and Master Craftsman Alex Askaroff has spent a lifetime in the sewing industry and is considered one of the foremost experts of pioneering machines and their inventors.

Alex has written extensively for trade magazines, radio, television, books and publications worldwide. You may have seen him recently on the BBC show, The Great British Sewing Bee.

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See Alex Askaroff on Youtube with the Singer 12




Isaac Merritt Singer 27th October 1811 to 23rd July 1875

The story of Isaac Merritt Singer is straight out of American folklore. Isaac ran away from a troubled home to a carnival that was passing through his town.

From living on his wits Isaac became one of the wealthiest men of his era, long before the great men of American history like Ford and Rockefeller.

Isaac's story is one of wars and women, in his will he name over 20 of his children and made each one rich beyond their wildest dreams.

Isaac Singer wrote his own history in his unique style and when he died as an old man he was married to the most beautiful woman in Europe, 30 years his junior (cover picture).

Isaac's inventions helped kick start the greatest industrial growth that America had ever seen and made it into the first world super power. His techniques, salesmanship and entrepreneurial skill brought jobs to millions of people world wide and made Singer a household name.

Isaac's story will blow your mind and may just be the best tale that has never made it to Hollywood

News Flash! Nov 2014

At last after 30 years of collecting and compiling I have nearly completed the most up to date and definitive book on Isaac Singer, his invention and his huge family. If you would like more information on how to order a copy please click on the picture or mail: alexsussex@aol.com


At last after 30 years of collecting and compiling I have nearly completed the first definitive book on Isaac Singer, his invention and his family. If you would like more information on how to order a copy please mail: alexsussex@aol.com


Isaac Singer
A brief history of a giant
By Alex Askaroff

Isaac Merritt Singer October 1811 - July 1875

A man touched by fire

What a man! When I first started, as a child growing up in the sewing industry, to hear stories about Isaac Singer I was enthralled. He had lived the American dream. A true rags to riches story, then it all went wrong. But in a final twist between wars and wives Isaac Singer found peace. He also founded a dynasty that continues to this day.

Out of all the sewing machine pioneers that I have written about over the last decades Isaac Singer's life stands out as simply astounding. Imagine a spiders web that stretches across the globe and in its centre is one man. That man is Isaac Merritt Singer.

They say a few men are touched by fire in their lives, Isaac was one of these men. From the day he was born until the day he died he was a man that stood head and shoulders above the crowd, and not only because he was over six foot five!

Although Isaac Merritt Singer claimed to his dying day that he had invented the first proper sewing machine, he did and did not. What the genius did was to take the best of what had existed at the time and make something better, the first practical sewing machine of the age. He also invented a mechanical digging machine for rock excavation, a rock drilling machine, a wood carving and cutting machine and a printers type letter cutting machine and patented dozens of improvements to sewing machines.

With his best creation, his sewing machine, he and his hand-picked men, promoted it with such an astounding flare and capability that it became the number one of its kind in the world. Marketing experts today would do well to examine Singer's methods as they were simply the best. From destroying any opposition to mass give-a-ways and beautiful models, Isaac used every tactic possible to promote his machines.

Let me tell you about the man who became a household name, some say known by more people around the world than Jesus.

Isaac Singer was an extraordinary and complicated man. He grew from a penniless cunning and devious street-wise kid, living on his wits, to one of the richest men in the world. His character also changed from cold-blooded and ruthless in his youth, to a cheerful old benefactor throwing children's parties in his old age.

When Isaac Singer died the public read the papers in disbelief, with open-mouths and with bulging eyes. How could it be possible that one man who had come from nothing, begging on the streets, died one of the richest men in the entire world? And his children! In his will Isaac took the time to name 24 of them by various wives and mistresses, leaving them all sizable trusts that made them rich. Isaac's fortune was so vast that it lasted for five generations before it finally trickled away.

There is also little doubt that he fathered a host of other children and many of his siblings later set Europe ablaze with publicity, scandal and a little intrigue.

Isaac Merritt Singer

Isaac Singer distinguished as ever, shown here later in life as one of the world's richest men. This picture was donated by Singers to the Smithsonian. It shows Isaac in his favourite smoking jacket. His children loved him wearing it at their palace, Oldway in Paignton, England, as they said it made him look like Father Christmas. He had a touch of red in his hair, was well over six feet tall, had hypnotic eyes, and was totally irresistible to women.

At last after 30 years of collecting and compiling I have nearly completed the first definitive book on Isaac Singer, his invention and his family. If you would like more information on how to order a copy please mail: alexsussex@aol.com

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.


 More books by Alex Askaroff on Amazon

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




Here are a few comments from the research that is in my Isaac Singer book. For more information on how to obtain a copy email: alexsussex@aol.com


Hi Alex
Isaac Singer was my great grandfathers brother. I
Enjoyed reading your story about I. M. Singer. I Have read others, but yours is so much more in depth. 
Gary Singer

Dear Mr. Alex Askaroff,

Thank you for the story of Isaac Singer.
It was very interesting to find his connection to
the Statue of Liberty of which I've walked up
into the arm of it as a kid.
Thanks for the very interesting history lesson.
I was surprised that he did include many of his illegitimate kids at his death, to
the rascals credit.

Rogene Calkins


Hi Alex

I love your website and the information about the Singer Sewing Machine and the story about the man behind the machine. Thanks for your informative and fun web site.
Marilyn Jenkins



I read your history of the Singer family on "Sewalot."  Incredible!

My mother's dad was from Alsace Lorraine, with the last name of "Boyer."  Since Isabella's father was South African, is it assumed that her father was White but was he?  It would be great, to know if she was possibly Biracial, i.e. South African Black and French.  Although, in those days, you'd think everyone would have been aghast.  But, you never know, as we are all mixed, when it comes down to it.

Thank you for your great site!


US State of Virginia


Hello Alex
Thank you so much for your fascinating information about Singer.
Julie, Western Australia
Hi Alex,
You kept me up last night reading your Singer story I love your writing style. Very interesting, and very indicative of the "rich and famous" of the time. They had a "if you've got it, flaunt it" attitude about money back then.  
I don't write to many people when I read their sites, but your writing style is so dear to my heart that I just have to let you know.
Marilyn S

 Books by Alex Askaroff

Your story is just fascinating, and so well written. I also so much appreciated the many photos you included.  Thank you so much for doing all that work and for generously sharing it with us.

I don't think there is anyone in history quite like Issac Singer!  If you ever come across it, what I'd really like to see next is a contemporary "review" of his acting!  Was he really talented?  Someone somewhere must have written down some thoughts about that.

Sharon Wyper

Great Site!
My great-aunt was May Bourne Strassburger, she was the eldest daughter of Frederick Gilbert Bourne, President after GRM.  I’m always fascinated by Singer stories. 
Jeffrey H. Sado

Hi Alex,
Great work, Holy mackerel!
So I married a singer descendant. She always talked about being an heiress.

BTW I Have seen a photograph of her great great grandfather with Kaiser Whilhem.


I really enjoyed your page. It was the first time that I have read a
biography about Singer and I found your style very



 Books by Alex Askaroff

Dear Alex,
I discovered your beautiful website today, your illustrations took my breath away!
My husband was the 2nd great grandson of George Ross Mackenzie.
Thank you,
Yours truly,
Carrie C. Mackenzie

Dear Mr Askaroff,

Thank you so much for your informative website. I read every word about Isaac Singer and loved every minute of it. What an amazing man Isaac was.
Sarah Young
Petaluma, California


Isaac Merritt Singer


Touched by Fire

A big Thank You

I must thank the countless people who have helped with the research in this piece from members of the Singer dynasty to The Smithsonian and V & A Museum. Yolande Deveraux supplied some excellent information about Florence Singer.

Many complete strangers on the Internet who have seen Isaac's story and added snippets of their own information and sent in pictures which have added so much. Hardly a week goes by without someone adding another piece of the puzzle.

All the extra information has all been so helpful during my years of research and I deeply appreciate the help from my old friends at ISMACS and everyone from Torquay/Paignton and Torbay Council's to endless library's, patent offices and committees. Also to West Dumbarton Council.

Also thanks to the family members of the Singer dynasty and to the staff at Oldway who I pestered so often and Paignton, Torbay and Torquay hotels and museums.

Well 30 years of research has ended here. Almost...

thank you all.

 Books by Alex Askaroff



Main Sewalot Site Index

Fancy a good read: Ena Wilf  & The One-Armed Machinist

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

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


A short history of Isaac Merritt Singer, a legend in his own time.


Dear Alex,

My name is Sonia McNulty ( nee Anthonisz ). I was so pleased to find your interesting stories on Isaac Singer. My Cousin Edith Anthonisz was married to Fred Singer, who took over his (I think Grandfathers? empire).
Thank you for taking such valuable time of your own to produce this fabulous work, and I hope a Film Director will reward you by turning this into an unbelievable film.

I wish you the best.


Hi Alex
So when's the movie of Issac's life?  Oh my!! I've always been interested in this family's history, just purchasing my first Singer antique...a 1947 model 15-90.
I lived many years in the city of Glendora, CA (near Pasadena) that is home to a Singer mansion or two. They even have underground tunnels between them to evade the public.

Anyway, very interesting read. I had no idea!!!



Hi Alex,
I Enjoyed your wonderfully researched and composed web story about my third-great grandfather Isaac Merritt Singer.

My great grandfather was Mortimer Merritt Singer, son of Isaac Augustus (son of Mary Sponsler).  I remember visiting my great-grandfather when I was about 5 years old, when he lived in the upstairs apartment of the Rye Country Club near NYC, in his early 90s.  He would give me a quarter for achieving a “cat” game in tic-tac-toe! 
Mortimer Merritt had two daughters, Elizabeth Singer and Katherine Singer.  Elizabeth was a rampant liberal, champion golfer and tennis player, and graduated from Smith College, before marrying my grandfather, Herbert DeRieux Lancaster (from the Lancaster banking family in New York City, previously Richmond, VA, and also descended from the Plumard de Rieux family, a branch connected with the court at Versailles that immigrated to Virginia with Phillip Mazzei in the mid-1700s). 
Elizabeth had two children, my father John Singer Lancaster (1927) and his sister Dr. Mary Jane Lancaster (1931).  My aunt Jane is an unusually strong character, obtaining her Ph.D. in geology from Columbia in the 1950s, serving as Associate Professor of Geography at Boston University for many years, where as a private airplane pilot she was an early expert in remote sensing with aerial photography, and she’s still playing tennis and skiing at age 82!
The Singer fortune lasted about 5 generations, pretty much disappearing with my father’s and my aunt’s generation.  My grandmother, Elizabeth, favored communist philosophy as a deep rejection of the extremely wealthy capitalist upbringing she experienced.  My father, having the advantage of a major in philosophy at Yale, retired to the life of a hermit in rural Vermont!!
We grew up proud of the sewing machine stories and aware that Isaac was a “scoundrel.”

Thanks again for your fine and colorful essay!

James Justin Merritt Lancaster
Belmont, MA

Hi Alex
I just finished reading your story about Isaac Singer, the company and the Singer family.  A really fascinating life and groundbreaking company in so many ways. I could definitely see a PBS series on Singer (much like the series on Selfridges, which has been playing here in the U.S.).
Thank you so much for sharing all your research and knowledge.
Linda Classon





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Isaac Merritt Singer

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