Engineers and scientists

Engineers and scientists

John Heathcoat was an English engineer from Duffield (Derbyshire), who developed various machines for textile production. During his apprenticeship he made an improvement to the warp loom so that it could produce mitts (fingerless gloves) with a lace-like appearance.

John Mercer was an English dye chemist and cloth printer. He was born in Great Harwood, Lancashire, in 1791. In 1844 he developed a process for treating cotton with a method that came to be named after him mercerisation. With this process the cotton fibres pass through a sodium hydroxide (caustic soda) bath, which causes the fibres to swell and makes them stronger and easier to dye. The process was perfected by Horace Arthur Lowe.

Sir William Henry Perkin was an English chemist who accidentally discovered the first aniline dye. Perkin was born in London and as a teenager studied chemistry under August Wilhelm von Hofmann (1818-1892), who was working on synthesising quinine as a treatment for malaria.

Isaac Merrit Singer was an American inventor and businessman who was involved in the development of hand sewing machines and the Singer sewing machine. Singer was born in Pittstown, New York, the son of German immigrants. He worked as a mechanic and cabinet maker, then as an actor in a travelling troupe. Singer's first patent, in 1839, was for a machine that drilled rock. 

Mina Zweigart was the American born wife of Paul Zweigart, one of the founders of the German textile manufacturer, Zweigart and Sawitzki Company. Paul and Mina Zweigart were married in 1878 and she had a strong influence on the company. It would appear that it is due to her that the production of decorative needlework textiles played such a prominent role in the range of goods produced by Zweigart and Sawitzki.