The Davis Sewing Machine Co. manufactured a new and greatly improved machine for heavy work, which seems to have taken precedence over all others.
In the mid-1860s Job Davis, an inventor, traveled to Watertown and displayed his Davis Sewing Machine at the Woodruff house. The Davis machine was a great improvement over the sewing machine previously invented by Elias Howe and it aroused the interest of brothers John and Joseph Sheldon.
In February 1868, the Davis Sewing Machine Co. was started in Watertown by the Sheldons with a capital of $150,000, which was quickly increased to $300,000.
When the company started production, it was located in a building on Factory Street, then moved to another location on Beebee Island and later moved to still larger facilities on Sewall’s Island.
These facilities consisted of two buildings, the main structure, which was 175 feet by 40 feet, two stories high with an attic, and 40 feet by 30 feet wing, as well as an office building measuring 50 feet by 30 feet.
In April 1869, they received an order for 1,400 machines from a firm in Paris, with delivery in three months. All employees of the company worked full time to complete orders being received, which tested the full capacity of the factory. The Sheldon brothers’ office and sales room were rented at 1 Paddock Arcade.
By 1875, the company manufactured in excess of $300,000 worth of machines. The number of employees was 175 and assets of the company were about $1,000,000.
Since the Davis Co. did not own a foundry, they arranged with Bagley and Sewall to do the casting of the iron parts. Bagley and Sewall found that their contract with Davis was a very important one. The company was making castings for about 75 sewing machines each day and later the production stepped up and there were weeks when more than 150 machines were manufactured each day.
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