Callebaut

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Charles Callebaut


HISTORY OF CALLEBAUT (SINGER) SEWING MACHINES IN FRANCE

By Rijnko Fekkes


The introduction of Singer system sewing machines in France has begun with the aquisition of the Singer patent for France, dated 27.2.1854, by Charles Callebaut, Rue Ste.Appoline 2 in Paris, als concessionair, by licence from 23.3.1855.

He started selling the Singer system machines at Rue Choiseul 6 in Paris. The factory was situated at Claude Vellefaux 6. Around 1863 the sales then took place at Boulevard de Sebastopol 105 and continued until 1877. As new factoryaddress was early 1870s mentioned Gide 58, Levallois-Peret (Seine).

In the Paris addressbook from 1873 the name had changed to “Callebaut (les fils de Ch) “. The sons of Charles obviously had taken over the firm. In the addressbook from 1876 Gide 58, Levallois- Peret (Seine) was then mentioned as the only selling point.

In 1877 is only a E.Callebaut as sewing machine salesman registered at the address Rue Faubourg-St-Martin 77. It therefore looks like the old, by Charles Callebaut founded, firm was disbanded around 1876. Probably the competition from the big companies like Singer, Howe, Wheeler & Wilson and the many French manufacturers and workshops had been to much for the sons.

This E (Eduard) Callebaut, obviously one of the sons, only seems to have been a salesman at that time. He always advertised small and irregular and never mentioned producing sewing machines. He changed in 1888 address to Rue Lafayette 147, to Boulevard Magenta 139 in 1889 and to Boulevard Pereire 127 in 1890. After 1891 he can no longer be found as sewing machine salesman.

Charles Callebaut most times presented his sewing machines for families and ateliers (workshops) in striking advertisements with nice engravings. He also exposed his sewing machines on a lot of international expositions. I have found him on the exhibitions at Paris 1855, Dyon 1858, Bordeaux 1859, Montpellier 1860, Nantes 1861, Marseille 1861, London 1862, Metz 1862, Bayonne 1864, Toulouse 1865, Paris 1867, Porto 1867, Le Havre 1868 and Lyon 1872 (here it were the sons of Charles). It is also known he exposed at St.Petersburgh, Saint-Dizier and Troyes. His sewing machines always were highly valued and he received many gold- and first class medals for them.

PATENTS which were granted to Callebaut concerning sewing machines :

Nr. 18932, 8.8.1855 Certificat d’addition (additional certificate), also 12.8.1857, 21.9.1858 and 7.12.1858, belonging tot the aquired Singer patent with reg.nr. 18932 from 20.4.1854.

Nr. 22762, 15.3.1855 for improvements in sewing machines (add. certificate 8.1.1856).

Nr. 37087, 17.6.1858 for improvemenst in sewing machines (add. certificates 15.7., 20.7., 7.8.1858, 9.7., 30.11.1859, 7.2., 24.5. and 25.10.1860).

Nr.43971, 28.11.1860 Certificat d´addition nr.2. ( belongs to patent nr. 43971, 23.2.1860, granted to Friquet for improvements in shuttle sewing machines).

Nr. 44699, 13.4.1860 for improvements in sewing machines (Polytypes). Add.certificates 27.7., 28.9, 25.10.1860, 15.2. and 30.5.1861.

Nr. 45142, 15.5.1860 for a new system in sewing machines; point de surjet (overlock stitch) Add. certificates 31.7., 27.9.1860 and 30.3.1861.

Nr. 48319, 30.1.1861 for improvements in sewing machines (add. certificate 30.11.1866).

Nr. 53772, 14.4.1862 for improvements in sewing machines (add.certificate 26.2.1864).

Nr. 59635, 5.8.1863 for improvements in sewing machines

Nr.79009, 31.12.1867 for improvements in the construction of sewing machines ( patent granted to Eduard-Charles- and Georges-Louis Callebaut, obviously the sons of Charles).

Patents of Callebaut registered in the UK:

Nr. 1766, 4.8.1858 , Nr. 2409, 5.10.1860, Nr. 1034, 25.4.1861, Nr. 1162, 21.4.1862, Nr. 1900, 28.6.1862 all for improvements in sewing machines and Nr. 2328, 20.8.1862 for sewing machines.

It is clear Charles Callebaut has played an activ and important role in the introduction of Singersystem sewing machines in France. One could say it is remarkable that Singer has delivered a licence to Callebaut to produce Singer type sewing machines with their invented and patented system. They had some bad experiences with Callebaut later regarding the performance of their agreement and regretted then to have done so. They never did give a licence to anyone after that again and produced the machines themselves. An agent took care of the distribution in the country concerned.

Charles has certainly taken a good use of the aquired licence when you look at the many improvements he carried out. He has taken a lot of trouble to produce sewing machines, with the Singer nr. 2 model as base, which could be used for many purposes. At the 1862 London World Exhibition he has exposed a varied selection of sewing machine models. Some of them even with the zigzag function ! He not only advertised them for family and workshop use, but also for the army, industry and navy. For example he delivered sewing machines to militairy tailor-workshops in France, Russia, England, Belgium and Turkey.

The factory of Callebaut was well equiped and contained an iron foundry, needle-manufacturing and workshops for sewing machine tools, woodtreatment and packaging, painting and decoration. The machinery in the factory was driven by a steam motor of 15 horsepower.

In the early 1860s there were about 100 people working in the factory. Callebaut had branches in London and St.Petersburgh at that time and commissionairs in Bruxelles, Milan, Barcelona, Madrid and in big cities in France. How many sewing machines Callebaut has built is not registered alas. Anyway not many machines have survived.

When looking at the facts you can say Callebaut was an energetic business man who also in general has contributed a lot to expand the use of the sewing machine in France in the early days. I have seen in newspapers from that time that they have praised him for that. His motto was in 1864 “ Une machine a coudre dans chaque famille !!! “ (A sewing machine in every family !!!)


RF. 3.6.2020/updated 26.2.2021.