Zippers in the 19th century


You've been quiet lately, Amy.

Be that as it may, I'm wondering about Charlotte, the new maid. How's she doing with sewing the gown for the lady of the house, as well as keeping up with the housework - with two fingers missing on her left hand no less!

She gets up way before anyone else in the house?
Yeah, it's pretty normal in the 19th century for servants to get up early and work late. It's just the way it is for hired domestic staff, I'm afraid.

You walked into town with her this morning? She needed to buy a LOT of buttons for the gown? And then you laughed and told her to just to buy a zipper, dummy? And she had no idea what you were talking about?
Whoa. Remember the century you're in, Amy. 
The word zipper would make no sense to anyone. You might be considered a little wonky talking about such things.

You need to be careful about what you say or reveal about future inventions.

And I don't think friends went around calling one another dummy back then either

In 1851 Elias Howe went out and got a patent for what he called an "Automatic, Continuous Clothing Closure", although he didn't put his heart into marketing it.
It won't be until 1893 when Whitcomb Judson will present to the world his invention, the "Clasp Locker" through his business, the Universal Fastener Company.

The Clasp Locker by Judson will be seen by the public for the first time at the Chicago World's Fair in 1893, but will see little success.

It won't be until 1901 when Gideon Sundback, a Swedish-American electrical engineer is hired to work for Judson's company (now called the Fastener Manufacturing and Machine Company) that an improved zipper will be constructed. Sundback will devote himself to create a reliable fastener and by December 1913 will have designed the modern zipper. In 1917, he will receive a patent for his "Separable Fastener".

In the years to come, Sundback, an American, will retain non-US rights and use these when he arrives in Canada, setting up a Canadian Firm called the Lightning Fastener Company in Ontario.

In the 1930s, a campaign will be launched featuring zippers in the clothing of children. Advertised especially to parents, this campaign will praise zippers to attract sales, promoting an easy way for children to learn to dress themselves.