Posted on 10th May 2018 at 20:49
Unpicking the history of a 125-year-old sewing machine
Have you ever wondered about the history of those vintage items that come into our lives?
Who sat on that chair or polished that spoon before it was refashioned into a ring or used the old wooden tool to carve something beautiful?
With a bit of digging you can usually discover the bare bones of a piece's history, but sadly the story of the people who once owned it often remains elusive...
Take this Singer sewing machine, which I picked up at a trade fair. Thanks to its serial number and the enduring popularity of Singers, it can easily be dated as an early machine. Manufactured in 1893, it is a Model 27, hand-cranked and featuring a vibrating shuttle, which looks a bit like a bullet, and a Bentwood case. Although the decals are a bit worn, I could identify them as the Ottoman Carnation design, influenced by the Victorian interest in foreign travel.
But none of that tells me what this machine actually did - who owned it and what it was used to sew between the late 19th century and today, through the time of two World Wars and six British monarchs!
After I posted a picture of the Singer on my Instagram page, someone suggested that I read Natalie Fergie's The Sewing Machine, a book telling the story of one Singer and the secrets stitched into its history across four generations.
Although it's fiction, it helps me to imagine the experiences my Singer has had in its first 125 years as it awaits the next chapter of its journey.
Tagged as: bentwood, handcranked, history, natalie fergie, ottoman carnation, provenance, sewing machine, singer, trade fair, vibrating shuttle, vintage
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