Barnett, James Nutcombe (sewing machine collector)

Date: 1860-1955Extent: 169 objects
sewing machine in the Barnett collection of sewing machines
Sewing machine. MERL 81/58/1-2

James Nutcombe Barnett was a University of Reading member of staff from 1964 working for the department of cybernetics and engineering. Barnett became interested in the history of sewing machine development and gathered his own collection to illustrate the changes. He bequeathed his collection of sewing machines to the University of Reading.

This collection contains of almost 100 sewing machines including early machines mounted in cabinets, simple machines designed for children and heavy-duty industrial machines.

Barnett also collected a sewing machine archive which we hold at The MERL. This predominantly consists of instruction booklets, advertising material, and photographs.

More Information

  • The objects are catalogued on the online database. Search using the phrase ‘Barnett collection’
  • A handlist of The MERL’s sewing machine collections is available here.
  • The archive is catalogued on the database under reference number ‘TR BNT’
  • The library holds ‘Sewing machines: a catalogue of the Barnett collection’ by J.N. Barnett
  • Find out about the Barnett Project exploring the historical significance of the sewing machine, and engages with relevant issues within the textile industry today.
  • Looking for a specific item?

    We are regularly updating the collections that we publish on our website but if you are after something specific that you can't find online, then drop by for a visit or feel free to contact us and we will be happy to help you.