Wheeler & Wilson's No.8 machine was introduced in 1876 and some 620,000 machines were made before production ended in favour of the New No.9 machine in 1887.
The No.8 was the company's first domestic straight needle machine and it was hoped that it would turn the company's fortunes around as its main rival the Singer Manufacturing Co had a few years earlier become Americas largest manufacturer of sewing machines.
The No. 8 was designed for Family and Light Manufacturing and could be adapted to run by hand, treadle or steam power. The new No.8 along with the company's other new straight needle machines (no's 6 and 7) was awarded The Grand Gold Medal and Diploma at the Paris International Exhibition of 1878.
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We maintain a database of number 8, 9 and D-9 Wheeler & Wilson machines to track the various changes made during production and ultimately date machines please Contact Us with your machines serial number and a clear photo.
No. 8 Serial No.173718.
This machine dates to 1880, it shows extensive wear and is missing the right hand slide plate. It has a glass presser foot (patented in 1861) and the centre boss has the address 44 Union Square, New York.
Some 455,000 No.8's featuring a flat face to the balance wheel were produced.
No. 8 Serial No.600729.
This machine can be dated between August 1885 (the patent date on the bobbin case) and 1887 when the New No.9 was introduced although it's likely there was an overlap in availability of the two models.
Some 155,000 machines with the geared hand crank were produced. This change was designed to make sewing easier and also removed the need for a special balance wheel as a standard treadle head could be used. As a result the wooden base is longer than on the earlier machine. The balance wheel can be disengaged for bobbin winding.
The right hand slide plate is stamped with four patent dates the last being for August 1878. While the centre boss has the Wheeler & Wilson Trade Mark it no longer incorporates the address of the company's New York office.
No. 8 Serial No.614844.
This No.8 was probably made in late 1886 or early 1887 with only another c4,500 No.8's being made before the No.9 was introduced.
This example has a nickel plated balance wheel and yoke and some 13,000 No.8 machines were produced with these particular features.
Since production of the No.8 commenced in 1876
a Volute spring had been used as part of the tension assembly but around 1885 this was replaced with a cone spring.
Photographs showing the bobbin winder which simply swivils into position. Note the split decal is perfectly aligned when the bobbin winder is not in use. The machine came with two bobbins.
The stitch length adjuster has a small sprung plate underneath the thumb screw presumably to stop over tightening.
Photograph showing the bobbin assembly which was also used for the No.9