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Elias Howe. Portrait of Elias Howe (1819-67), an American who invented an early type of sewing machine. Designed in 1845, Howe's machine was the first American design to feature a needle with a hole in it and to utilise a double thread. His design was greatly improved by Isaac Singer in 1851, who then marketed it successfully. Howe sued Singer, claiming his patent had been infringed. After a lengthy litigation battle, Howe was awarded royalties on all sewing machines sold in America from 1854 onwards.
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