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Area Rugs: Machine Made Rugs

The machine-made rug industry in the United States began in 1791 when William Sprague started the first woven rug mill in Philadelphia. Others opened during the early 1800s in New England. Included in that area was Beattie Manufacturing Company in Little Falls, New Jersey, a company that operated until 1979.

In 1839, Erastus Bigelow permanently reshaped the industry with the invention of the power loom for weaving rugs. Bigelow's loom, which doubled rug production the first year after its creation and tripled it by 1850, is now part of the Smithsonian Institution's collections. He continued to devote his life to innovation -- 35 separate patents were issued to him between 1839 and 1876. Bigelow introduced the first broadloom carpet in 1877.

Industrialist  / retailer Marshall Field had a traditional Axminster weaving loom modified to create what no one else had ever created -- a machine-made rug woven through the back, just like a handmade Oriental, featuring intricate designs and virtually unlimited color variety. Karastan’s rug mill was established in 1926, and introduced the first Karastan rugs to the public in 1928.

There are many manufacturers today producing both simulations of antique designs and updated "oriental" type rugs by both weaving and tufting processes.



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