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The Willcox & Gibbs Sewing Machine company was founded by inventor James E. A. Gibbs and investor James Willcox.

In 1855, Gibbs saw an illustration of a Grover & Baker sewing machine while reading the newspaper. Because the picture was not accompanied by a description, he came to the conclusion that it used a single thread. Based on this assumption, he was able to develop a sewing machine.

In 1856 he saw a Singer sewing machine at a Virginia tailorís shop. Although he was impressed by it, he felt that it was much too expensive, large, and complicated.

James Gibbs then decided to continue the development of his own sewing machine that he believed would be easier to use and cheaper in cost. Because Gibbs was a poor farmer with a family to support, he could only spend a limited amount of time on his machine. As he did not have many tools at his disposal, his machine was made almost completely of wood.

Gibbs met James Willcox, a manufacturer of new inventions, in Philadelphia. Willcox was immediately impressed with the sewing machine and both men agreed to form the Willcox & Gibbs company.

In 1858, the company began the manufacture of a chain stitch sewing machine which gained popularity at once. While Grover & Baker and Wheeler & Wilson sewing machines were selling for $100, the Willcox & Gibbs machine sold for $50.

In 1876, the company introduced its Automatic model that was a chain stitch sewing machine with an automatic tension device. This machine would continue in production until 1947 at which time Willcox & Gibbs stopped production of its domestic machines to concentrate on specialized industrial models.

--From The Encyclopedia of Antique Sewing Machines, 3rd Edition