Old Sewing Machine Pictures - Priceless Antiques Of Another Generation

Ah, The Passing Of An Era

As a child, I remember finding a sewing machine in my grandmother's attic that was unlike any I had ever seen before. It was really heavy, with no plastic to be found on it and the power plug on the end - was just basically two metal rods. I looked at it for hours, wondering how it must have been to watch this wondrous machine at work.

What I had stumbled upon was an old Singer model, probably made in the early twentieth century. Of course, my remembrances of that machine far outdat the days when I came to realize what I had behold before my eyes. Had I known then what I know now, I might have asked to have it when she passed away, as a remembrance of how things were built at the dawning of the age of electricity.

Would it be worth anything today? Perhaps not, but I enjoy holding onto a piece of history as much as any other collector. Here's a picture of it as I remember it, with the exception being that this model ran on electricity.

Antique Singer Sewing Machine
Antique Singer Sewing Machine

The Turn Of The Century Was A Busy Time

With mass production reaching its dawning, many new products were becoming available to people for the first time. Manufactured on assembly lines to make them more affordable, they were now in reach of the common man, and they were purchased in droves - to wind up in attics many years later, for wondering eyes like my own.

In my search for this wondrous memory from my past I found a few others I would like to share with you. Perhaps I will recreate a moment of history for you as well.

Antique Sewing Machine Collectors Abound!

As I progressed through my research I was surprised to see how many people collected these vintage machines. Well ... maybe not so much by the fact that there were collectors as much as how many of these antique sewing machines have survived the test of time. It seems they were made to last forever, and I honestly believe some will stand the test of time.

In the video above Sylvia Adair claims to do all of her sewing with her antique sewing machines, and I believe her. Again, a testimony to just how well these machines were made. If only they could somehow have recorded all of the memories that surrounded them during their dawning years, but I suppose we have old film reels for that.

The Singer Featherweight 221
The Singer Featherweight 221

The Singer Featherweight 221

Highly coveted by collectors, the Singer 221 was introduced at the Chicago World's Fair in 1933 and had a long production run - all the way up until the mid 1960s.

Made of cast aluminum, they might not be considered lightweight by today's standards, but they were state of the art back in the day. Due to their durability there are still many in use today. It was a straight stitch machine weighing in at about 11lbs making it very portable.

Though it wasn't as capable as some other sewing machines of its time, its durability and ease of maintenance earned it a place in many a housewife's heart. To date, many are still in use around the world - making it both collectible and practical.

The Ward Arm And Platform
The Ward Arm And Platform

The Ward Arm And Platform

As the age of iron and steel crept into the hearts and minds of men, exquisite devices were created, combining function and beauty in one. Back then, many such novelties were only for the wealthy, and such devices were given lavish d├ęcor to make them fit in with their surroundings. The Ward Arm and Platform is no exception to that rule.

Manufactured in the UK during the 1860s and 1870s, it's a timeless piece that we can all look at and fall in love with. Interestingly enough, even back then, the pieces of the modern sewing machine were nearly in place. Ah, the sewing machine is such an old device with such a great history of revolutionary ideas!

The Bradbury 1A
The Bradbury 1A

The Bradbury 1A

I saved my favorite discovery for last - the Bradbury 1A. Though it wasn't the first sewing machine, it's certainly one of the most interesting - at least to me. Produced in the 1870s, it was a design that made use of a foot pedal the operator rocked back and forth to move the needle, allowing the person sewing to have her hands free to work the fabric through - and it was a her back then, as men of the 19th century would sooner watch their trousers fall apart then be seen operating a device considered to be made only for women. Ah, gotta love that 'get in the kitchen and cook me a potpie' mentality. thank God for women's lib!


Here's a closeup that might give you a better idea why I so admire this machine:

A Closeup Of The Bradbury 1A
A Closeup Of The Bradbury 1A

Elegant in its design, it could easily have its place anywhere in a Victorian Age home without anyone wanting to drape a cover over it. I can only imagine the smug look on the husband's face as he had it carried into the house or the gasp of glee as his wife sat down before it for the first time. Is only the age of elegance had lasted onto our days.

History In Motion

Of course, what I would really like to see is one of these antique sewing machines in motion, and I'm sure you would to. I spent some time over on Youtube and came up with this gem that shows an old antique Husqvarna sewing machine in operation - and as you can see, it still works!

I especially am thankful to the camera man for remembering to pan down and show the foot pedal in action, allowing us to relive a piece of the past that occurred at the dawning of the century.

I Hope You enjoyed This Travel Back In Time

Well, that's all I have for today, but if enough reader interest is generated I'll add some more videos and pictures of other models. It's been a pleasure for me writing this article and I sincerely hope it's been a pleasure for you to read it.

And if you find yourself in possession of an antique sewing machine, know that what you have is a genuine piece of history that you can sell to a collector for profit - or hold onto as an enduring piece of memorabilia. Should you decide to part with history, do yourself the favor of taking a photo of it first, so you can always remember that wondrous moment when you beheld your eyes upon a wondrous piece of history.

Thank you for accompanying me upon an article that I had a great time writing, and I am certain I will revisit it often - you're willing to do so as well, and don't be afraid to tell others ...

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Comments 9 comments

suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 7 years ago from Asheville, NC

Nice - I always enjoy a look at history.


bingskee profile image

bingskee 7 years ago from Quezon City, Philippines

recalling my mom's sewing machine! not exactly like this but it resembles.


Vizey profile image

Vizey 7 years ago

sewing machine.. different hub.. Usually people ignore such topics as it has a lot of imortance to everyone's life.


trish1048 profile image

trish1048 6 years ago

What wonderful memories this stirred in me! Watching the sewing machine in action, hearing its sound reminded me of my mom and grandmother, who could always be found creating something at their machines.

At some point in my adult life, I have come to love anything antique. One year, for my birthday, I came home to see this 'thing' with a sheet over it in the middle of the living room. I was instructed to not peek.

Well, lo and behold, when it was revealed, it was an old Singer treadle machine. It seems my son found it discarded on the side of the road, and he spent hours constructing the table for it to sit in, as that was all that was missing. The funny thing is, I don't sew. I never asked to be taught how to sew. I had a sewing class in school, and I hated it. The two items I managed to make, yet never complete, were used as dustrags :)

A charming hub, thanks for the memories.


Tracy Monroy 6 years ago

These machines are beautiful museum pieces! And the craftsmanship is amazing on these as well. Someday I would love purchase one for a collectible, but I don't think I will ever have the funds. Nice hub.


Chuck 5 years ago

OK, hope someone can help. I am a civil war collector and ran across a very old sewing machine. They would not separate the box which is what i wanted as it looks union army or period made to fit the machine, and it has definate evidence that it eas stored and rode a wagon together.

I was told it was the local grandaughter of a womon who used it and sewed uniforms and such for the union army during the civil war, she also stated it was an Elias Howe. So i thought ok, big deal..it weighs a ton, solid cast iron with wheel driven power by hand. So it at least dates prior to 1864.

After 1 google the whole story of Elias Howe, his life, his invention and that he is credited with the first proven and patented model machine, read it! Its i n ok physical and mechanical cond but the intricate design of the howe machines of that era are somewhat visible.

Anyway can someone lend any info or possible Offer?

Thanks Chuck........csbaker1991@yahoo.com


yoshi97 profile image

yoshi97 5 years ago from a land called 'what if?' Author

Chuck:

I found an excellent article on the internet regarding Elias Howe. Perhaps it's the same article that you had found, but I'll still provide the link, as I believe the information it contains (as well as the pictures) are fascinating.

http://www.sewalot.com/elias_howe.htm

As for the worth of such a machine ... to a collector who owns an original civil war era Elias Howe, they are priceless. However, trying to sell such an antique could prove problematic.

Many collectors already have their 'museum piece' they value and aren't looking to add more to their collection. Oddly enough, the sparsity of a collection is often what creates its worth. After all, having two similar machines side-by-side denies the rareness of these antiques.

So, how does one judge the value of such an antiquity then? To be honest, there are many factors involved. The largest factor is the number of similar machines known to still be in existence. As I always tell people ... if you find an old bullet at the Gettysburg battlefield you've found something of historical importance, but not something likely to provide you with a huge financial return. However, if you happen to find a gun there that has the name of a famous general inscribed upon it then you've found something unique - and valuable.

The earliest if Elias Howe's sewing machines were made by hand, which would make them rare, as the time needed to make them would lower the number actually able to be produced. However, once they went into factory production they were being mass-produced, lessening their collectible worth. It's at this point that the condition of the sewing machine would play a heavy roll in what it was worth.

Of course, if many of these mass produced machines were then disposed of and lost to time or if they were remanufactured into other items they would slowly diminish with time and become extremely rare - upping the collectibility and the asking price.

I would recommend taking the machine to a private collector of sewing machines and having them appraise what it is worth. Yes, they will hand you a low-ball price, but you will then have a figure of minimal worth that will tell you of you have a serious collectible. Provided the number they offer has four digits or more to the left of the decimal point, you would know you have found something special. And if they were offer a paltry sum of less than a $100 ... then you would know you have fallen upon an over-manufactured commonality that would be best kept to serve your own need to own a piece of the past.

When you ask for an appraisal don't act eager to part with it. As a thought, you could tell the collector that you are having the machine appraised for insurance purposes, not as a matter of resale. Don't appear eager or hungry - just be nonchalant. This should afford you the best chance at an accurate figure.

If you have a real stellar find the collector will almost certainly offer to purchase the machine from you. Again, don't be eager (even if you are in it to sell it) and know that the first offer is always below the final one - provided you are patient enough to wait for it.

The final offer is always the one made as you are parting company and walking out the door. You can always call back and accept it once you have left, so don't feel pressured to make a decision on the spot. Remember, you have an item to sell and they want to purchase it at the lowest price they can. This places the ball solely in your court.

I hope you have found that rarity that nets you a big prize, but even if you haven't you can revel in the fact that you own an amazing piece of Civil War history.


BOB HODGSON 5 years ago

Where can I post pictures of my very old sewing machine in hopes that someone will recognize it? I need a power foot pedal for the machine.

Bob


Christine Greser 15 months ago

Hi there, I read you article and have a Vintage 1910 Singer Hand Crank for sell do you know where I could sell it except EBay?

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