Blanchard, Helen Augusta

Blanchard, Helen Augusta
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b. 25 October 1840 Portland, Maine, USA
d. 1922 USA
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American inventor who made improvements in the sewing machine.
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Blanchard was the daughter of a wealthy ship owner. She was said to have had inventive talents but seems to have had no technical training. She patented nothing until she was over 30, although that may have been due to shortage of funds. Inheriting the family wealth after the death of her father brought her talents out into the open. She moved to Boston, Massachusetts, and made and patented a number of mechanical devices to improve the sewing machine: these included the "over seaming" machine, a crochet attachment and methods of making knitwear. In 1881, with an unmarried sister, she founded the Blanchard Overseam Machine Company to exploit her sewing machine inventions. Her company seems to have prospered, for in 1891 she was said to own "great estates", a factory and many patent rights, the returns from which made her a wealthy woman. Patents for sewing machine improvements and attachments continued to flow until 1915. She suffered a stroke in 1916, and died six years later; no will was ever probated, so the fate of her wealth can only be surmised.
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Further Reading
A.Stanley, 1993, Mothers and Daughters of Invention, Meruchen, NJ: Scarecrow Press, pp. 518–21.
LRD

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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