Strasburg Museum Exhibit of
Willcox & Gibbs Antique Sewing Machines
May 5-31 the Strasburg Museum is proud to exhibit 4 examples of the Willcox & Gibbs (W&G) sewing machines, manufactured 1864, 1905, 1910, and 1933.
James E.A. Gibbs (1829-1902) was a farmer, inventor and business man from Rockbridge County in the Shenandoah Valley. On June 2, 1857 he was awarded a patent for the first twisted chainstitch single thread sewing machine. In partnership with James Willcox of New York he formed the Willcox & Gibbs Sewing Machine Company. When the Civil War broke out in 1861 Gibbs returned to Virginia to serve his state. He came home to Rockbridge County after the war penniless and in ill health. Gibbs borrowed a suit of clothes and walked to New York City to see if anything remained of his company. He was welcomed by Willcox with $10,000 – his share of the profits. Gibbs returned to Rockbridge County a wealthy man with a steady income from a sewing machine company that rivaled Singer in profits. He bought land and built the town of Raphine – a name that derives from the Greek word “raphis” meaning “to sew”.