Alminana & Sarkissian
Vertical VS Walking Foot Machine c.1874
Courtesy of Rijnko Fekkes
THE BRIEF HISTORY OF ALMINANA & SARKISSIAN SEWING MACHINE PRODUCTION
It always was a question for me who has made my Alminana & Sarkissian sewing machine. Often collectors said te me your machine is probably made by Berthier and not by Alminana & Sarkissian, because it is written these were only merchants.
I thought it was time to find out what the truth is and therefore searched for information in the old French online archives and journals. I have found the following facts.
Antoine Alminana and Pierre Sarkissian formed a firm by acte from 5th september 1871 at the address Rue St.Maur 75 in Paris. They called themselves “ fabricants “ (manufacturers) of sewing machines. Could I find proof if this ? Yes, I think so.
At the “Exposition universelle et internationale de Lyon“ in 1872 Alminana & Sarkissian have displayed their sewing machines in Groupe IV, Classe 45. On these exhibitions you could show the products you had made. A special commission had at first to examen the machines and had to decide you were admitted to the exhibition. The sewing machines of Alminana & Sarkissian were admitted to the exposition and were rewarded, on their names, with a bronze medal. Berthier (Ch) et Cie. were also examed with their sewing machines and admitted (which indicates that the sewing machines of both were considered as being from different origin). There is a silver medal mentioned for the Berthier machines ( handed over to the successor; the Société générale des machines a coudre)
Alminana & Sarkisian also have exposed sewing machines of varied constructions and for shoemakers on the World exihibition at Vienna in 1873, Gruppe XIII, section C. They were examened and got a “ diplôme de mérite “ ( merit diploma ).
So they were checked as manufacturers to times and this all means, in my opinion, that Alminana & Sarkissian were sewing machine manufacturers and were not only merchants. A factory is not known, so they probably constructed their machines in an “atelier” (workshop) like many “fabricants” did at that time. They registered a “marque de fabrique “ consisting of round medallion with a capital A and S mixed together in the center.
This finding is also supported by the fact they were granted patents:
Nr. 98416, 10.3.1873, to Sarkissian & Alminana, for improvements in sewing machines.
Nr. 101458, 12.12.1873, to Alminana, Sarkissian and Gigaroff, for a “machine a broder et a soutacher” (machine to embroider and to add embroidered decorations). Gigaroff was a sewing machine manufacturer since 1860. This cooperation could indicate they possibly have received the machineparts to construct the machines in their workshop from him.
They must have had difficult times with their new firm due to the heavy competition from cheaper import machines and from the many other workshops and sewing machine companies, particularly from the Berthier sewing machines, which looked very much the same and had already a good reputation. The machines of Alminana & Sarkissian brought nothing new.
Already three years later a “Declaration de faillites” (declaration of bankruptcy) was published in the newspapers. This was however not the end, because in the “Archives commerciales de la France” was published that the court had pronounced a “Homologation de concordat” (postponement of payment). This was however also not of much help as in the “Journal officiel de la republique Francaise” from 14 nov.1875, you could read a judgement pronounced by the “Tribunal de commerce de la Seine” that the firm Alminana & Sarkissian was disbanded (acte from 24 oct.1875). A striking fact is that Gigaroff had also ended his business that year.
This was the early end of the Alminana & Sarkissian sewing machine production and that is why not many of these machines have survived.
A remarkable fact has to be mentioned that still on 27.9.1876, nr. 114.716, a patent was registered on the names of Alminana & Sarkissian for a new kind of handle applicable on all sewing machines. Probably the approval and registration procedure for this improvement had taken a long time.
Another fact is that in a Swiss collection an identical sewing machine has turned up with the name Berton, Bagnolet 11 at Paris on a sideplate. I could find out this man, a mechanic, had exposed his machine at the Paris exhibition in 1878 and was awarded with a mention honorable. He was registrated at this address in the streetdirectories for 1880,1881 and 1882. After 1882 I could not find him anymore in the streetdirectories. So It looks like he had tried to continue the production of the Alminana & Sarkissian model, but was not successful with this.