Saturday, January 24, 2015

Greist Sewing Aids

A while ago, we picked up a lovely old Japanese-made Singer sewing machine for $7.50 at a thrift store.  I find it amazing that these beautiful pieces of machinery trade for so little money.

Included with the machine was this box of attachments made by the Greist Manufacturing Company. There is not a lot of information on the web about this company. It may have started as a bicycle shop. The founder, John Milton Greist (1850-1906) apparently changed the spelling of his name around 1892, because his company was originally called the Griest Manufacturing Company. Below, from 1879: 

Smithsonian Sewing Machines
The company had a large facility in Chicago, but also seems to have been located out of New Haven, Connecticut.  In addition to sewing machine attachments (for which the founder had around 50 patents, a number of which were sold to Singer, including the famous "puzzle box.") the company also made lamps, razors, measuring tools and "Griest's Mechanical Pen and Duplicating Press":
The American Stationer, 1879
In any event, John M. Greist became a very wealthy man, building his stately home "Marvelwood" on a 700-acre nature preserve onto which he brought a herd of elk and deer. He called his home his hobby, and the public were allowed to visit. It's now the site of the Yale Golf Course, which may not be as accommodating to public visits.

The Greist firm seems to have soldiered on until around the 1960's or 1970's, when the Japanese became ascendant in this market area.

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