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2010/76/2 Embroidery machine, metal / shell, made by Ercole Cornely, France, used by Nina Alice Webb, Australia, 1880-1923. Click to enlarge.

Cornely embroidery machine

Made by Cornely, Ercole in France, 1880-1923.

This Cornely embroidery machine is an important example of the mechanisation of this traditional practice. The first successful machine was developed by the French engineer, Antione Bonnaz, in 1865 and produced chain-stitch embroidery. Ercole Cornely developed this further to produce both chain and moss stitches at his factory in Paris. At first the machines were called Bonnaz machines and later became known as Cornely machines. Many of the early machines were prize winners at the Paris Expositi...


Object No.


Object Statement

Embroidery machine, metal / shell, made by Ercole Cornely, France, used by Nina Alice Webb, Australia, 1880-1923

Physical Description

Embroidery machine, metal / shell, made by Ercole Cornely, France, used by Nina Alice Webb, Australia, 1880-1923

A Cornely embroidery machine. The machine is made of metal and has an inlaid shell design. There is a stamp on the machine that has the following marked on it: 'COUSO BRODEUR UNIVERSEL', 'MEDAILLE EN FRANCE ET A L'ETRANGER Original Kurbel Tambourir Maschine.', 'PAT. IN THE U. STATES 3 MARCH 1874 & 3 OCT. 1876.', 'PARIS' and '39051'. On the stamp there is also an E. Cornely signature.

Marked on the machine is 'CORNELY' and 'MACHINE C'.

The machine has a rotary handle beneath the machine.


Manufacturer's information on the side



208 mm


470 mm



The machine was made in France by Erocle Cornely between 1880-1923


Cornely, Ercole France 1880-1923



This Cornely embroidery machine belonged to Nina Alice Webb (nee Read) or Nettie as she was also known. Nina came to Australia from England in 1888. Before she came to Australia she had exhibited Cornely machines at exhibitions in London. In Australia she met her husband Frank Piggott Webb, a glass engraver, with whom she set up a studio in Sydney in 1894. They ran other businesses up until 1923 where the Museum's Cornely embroidery machine was used.

Nina carried out her embroidering, braiding and embossing business from her husband's studio at 277 Elizabeth Street Sydney. By 1898, N.A. Webb & Co. were also operating from the Queen Victoria Market Building. Eleven years later they were also working at 411 Pitt Street in the name of N. A. Webb where they had a telephone. Their advertisement in the 'Sands Directory Trade Index said: "WEBB N. A - Glass, Gold and Silver Engraver; Fine Art China and Glass Repairer; also all kinds of embroidery work.' In the next few years embossing and glass bevelling were added to their services.

The Technological Museum (now the Powerhouse Museum) purchased items from N. A. Webb and the letterhead of the invoice from 7 June 1912 notes that Mrs Webb offered: 'Embroidery Work Done by Hand or Machine. Badges, Etc. Names on Handkerchiefs Etc. Stage, Evening or Walking Dresses, Braided or Embossed any Design'. It also noted the type of work done by Mr Webb and mentions that all work is guaranteed and completed on the premises. Their business operated successfully until 1923 when Nina and her husband retired to their home in Mosman.

Their grand daughter notes that when they exhibited their work that Nina would embroider a customer's initials in the corner of a handkerchief and Frank would engrave names on small glasses. Nina embroidered small jobs as well as larger ones such as costumes and curtains for J C Williamson productions. After retirement, Nina continued to use the Cornely machine at home to do paid jobs and taught others how to use it. She later gave the machine to her daughter who continued to use it until about 1970.

Reference: Annette Keenan, 'Webb & Rider, Two Sydney Glass Engravers', The Australiana Society Newsletter, January 1981.


Credit Line

Gift of Wendy Lowe, 2010

Acquisition Date

29 November 2010

Cite this Object


Cornely embroidery machine 2019, Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, accessed 25 June 2019, <>


{{cite web |url= |title=Cornely embroidery machine |author=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences |access-date=25 June 2019 |publisher=Museum of Applied Arts & Sciences, Australia}}

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