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Joseph Wertheim

Frankfurt, Germany; Spain and agency in Australia.

Information from Peter Wilhelm's Alte Nähmaschinen translated by Chrys Gunther:

Josef Wertheim worked for Singer in the USA from 1854 to 1858 and may have also worked for Wheeler & Wilson. He went back to Germany in 1859. In Frankfurt from 1862 to 1864 he was a general sales agent for W&W. He also rented space in Hanau where he started manufacturing sewing machine parts. He most likely made his first Wertheim machine here and he lost his W&W dealership. In 1868 he built his own factory in Bornheim. He also had his own foundry which not only made sewing machines but also items for other companies. It was incorporated in 1873. There were problems and the company failed and by 1899 it was owned by the family. In 1907 they opened a new factory called "Deutsche Nähmaschinen AG Wertheim."

In 1932 they moved the factory to Spain. The family was Jewish but had converted to Christianity in 1900. But given the political climate of the time they felt the move was necessary, because they feared the political unrest in Germany. They had already got over the aftermath of WWI and the poor performance of the following years, but preferred to move to Spain. Wertheim had already been involved as a supplier to a Spanish business since 1870 and had opened a business there. Since 1920 it was called Rapida SA with Karl Wertheim (using the alias of Carlos Vallin) as president until 1945.

In 1960 Rapida had 4000 workers. In subsequent years Rapida turned into a sales based operation, supplying competitively priced machines from the Far East.


Wertheim's reincarnation of Singer models began with an S serial letter. Until his sixth attempt Wertheim models were not particularly successful in the public's eyes.

Rapida's name originated from the marketing of English Jones machines, which everybody knew as "las rapidas", hence the name "la casa de las rapidas".

In 1928 Wertheim made an agreement with Gritzner.

Further reading: Hugo Wertheim Importer and Piano Manufacturer

High Arm Transverse Shuttle Machines

"Griffin" - earlier

Serial No: S6450924

Courtesy of Noddy

This High Arm Transverse shuttle machine was sold under the Griffin name in Australia, elsewhere it was known as the New Triumph or New Family machine. The model has the distinctive rounded handle to the handcrank and a front 'slide plate' that extends to the edge of the bed. To the right of the bobbin winder a grinding wheel for sharpening needles may be slipped on. Bobbin winder instructions

New High Arm

Courtesy of Claire Sherwell

The New High arm family machine "with patent locked cover, patent self-acting bobbin winder. The woodwork is of choice, inlaid polished walnut."

The High Arm with embroiderer "The only perfect embroiderer yet produced. Very favourable for making pretty, delicate braids and other ornaments. For children's pelisses, dresses and bonnets, aprons, cuffs, chushions, d'oyley's, mats, antimacassars, curtains, smoking caps, slippers and such like. Can be worked with Pursetwist silk, Andalusian and Berlin Wool, or soft coloured cords, chenille, etc. Patent embroiderer must be ordered at first, as it cannot be fitted afterwards."

"Griffin" - later

Serial No: S 6688953

Courtesy of Noddy

This High Arm, sold in Australia by Hugo Wertheim under the Griffin name, has a later style bobbin winder with a tall upright and guide disks on the treadle belt guard.


Courtesy of Noddy

Attachments were supplied in attractively decorated cardboard boxes before the introduction of German Sewing Machine Attachment Tins. The wording and decoration around the edge of this type of Wertheim cardboard box altered over time. These cardboard boxes fit tightly into the compartment in the lid of the case of the machine. A range of embossed brown cardboard boxes was also available with attachments for Wertheim and other companies.

<gallery> File:Wertcardbox.jpg File:Wertheimtucker.jpg| Tuck marker </gallery.