I found out something very cool. The inventor of the easily threaded sewing needle advertised on this die-cut fan Victorian trade card was a woman! I had assumed there were no women inventors at the turn of the century (how backwards thinking of me). Her name was Hannah G. Suplee, wife of a sewing machine salesman.
Impractical Female Occupation
Hannah was an inventor during a time when such an occupation was considered impractical for a woman. You see, inventions by women didn’t generally pay that well. Royalties and profits for many women weren’t realized. That is because they either didn’t file patents for fear of being viewed a failure if it was known a women was the brains behind the invention, or they sold it outright and cheap to a man who took advantage of them. Women that did file patents did so under their male lawyer’s name. Geez, the modern day women’s activist would have a field day with this situation.
Hannah was one that did file patents, but under her male lawyer’s name. I was able to find listings for four of her patents:
- Easily Threaded Sewing Machine Needle, no. 94924 granted on Sept. 11th, 1869
- Improvement in Sewing Machines (together with John H. Mooney), no. 115,656 granted on June 6th, 1871
- Pattern and Lining for Garments, no. 250,998 granted on Dec. 13th, 1881
- Abdominal Supporter, no. 500,356 granted on June 27th, 1893
Hannah exhibited her inventions at the 1876 Centennial Exposition in Philadelphia. A few women inventors came away from that exposition an outstanding success. I couldn’t find out if Hannah was one of those women. Hopefully she made enough money off her inventions to escape the dire economic situation many women inventors faced.
You can find many more Victorian trade cards with great graphics in my store, Remember When Vintage Postcards.
** If you liked this blog post and want to share it, click on the bookmark link to the right.