Appleton's Cyclopedia of American Biography, edited by James
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BIGELOW, Erastus Brigham, inventor, born in West Boylston, Massachusetts, 2 April 1814; died in Boston, Massachusetts, 6 December 1879. He was the son of a cotton-weaver, and it was his parents' desire that he should become a physician, but, his father's business not being successful, h e was unable to continue his studies, and so turned his attention to inventing. Before he had reached the age of eighteen years he had devised a hand-loom for suspender-webbing, and also a machine for making piping-cord. His work on "Stenography," a short manual on shorthand writing, was written and published about this time. In 1838 he patented an automatic loom for weaving counterpanes, which he subsequently modified so as to produce an article equal to the finest imported counterpanes. He then invented a loom for weaving coach-lace, and soon afterward turned his attention to carpet-weaving. In 1839 he contracted to produce a power-loom capable of weaving two-ply ingrain carpets, such as had been hitherto woven exclusively by the hand-loom, which only produced eight yards a day. With his first loom he succeeded in obtaining ten or twelve yards daily, which he increased by improvements until a product of twenty-five yards was regularly obtained. Afterward he invented a power-loom for weaving Brussels tapestry and velvet tapestry carpets, his most important invention, which attracted much attention at the World's Fair in London in 1851. The town of Clinton, Worcester County, Massachusetts, owes its growth and manufacturing importance to him, as it contains the coach-lace works, the Lancaster Quilt Company, and the Bigelow Carpet Company, all of which are direct results of his inventive ability. In 1862 Mr. Bigelow prepared a scheme of uniform taxation throughout the United States by means of stamps, and he published "The Tariff question, considered in regard to the Policy of England and the Interests of the United States" (Boston, 1863). Mr. Bigelow was elected a member of the Boston Historical Society in April 1864, and in 1869 presented to that society six large volumes entitled "Inventions of Erastus Brigham Bigelow patented in England from 1837 to 1868," in which were gathered the printed specifications of eighteen patents granted to him in England. See the memorial sketch by Robert C. Winthrop in "Winthrop's Addresses and Speeches" (Boston, 1886).
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