Saturday, December 29, 2012

Singer Featherweight History



From: (Gordon D. Jones)
Subject: Singer sewing machines

The 221K made in Scotland has a couple of major and some minor differences
from the black featherweights.  It has a toothed belt that drives the lower
shaft instead of a vertical shaft and bevel gears, and the folding cloth
plate is shorter than the black one.  The motor is slightly higher
amperage, hence more powerful, and the foot control/pwr cord does not
unplug. Of course they come in different colors.  I have one thats white in
a green case.  It's not pure white and I suppose one could say it has a
slight green color.  These machines seem to be built to the same quality as
the black ones.  The one's I have encountered sew about the same as the
black machines.  They sound different because of the belt drive between
shafts.  There is a lot of difference between black FW's in the way they
sound and sew.  In my classes, I have the students run their machines wide
open, one at a time, so everyone can hear the difference between machines.
There is quite difference sometimes between machines.  Some run faster than
others and some a lot quieter.  The speed is dependent on the type of belt,
tension of the belt, and condition of the motor.
From: (Gordon D. Jones)
Subject: Old sewing machines

Most collectors of antique sewing machines say a machine must be 100 yrs
old to be classed as an antique.  Sewing machines have been manufactured in
quantity since the 1850's.  During the last half of the 19th century, there
were around 200 companies manufacturing sewing machines in the US.  Of
those, less then 20 survived after the turn of the century.  Of the
surviving companies, none of the machines are manufactured in this country
today, not even Singers.  White sewing machines have been manufactured in
Japan since 1974 and New Home was sold to the Janome company of Japan in

If one is looking for a treadle machine to decorate your home (I have about
a dozen treadles), it will most likely be a Singer.  Why?  It is estimated
that Singer manufactured 21 million machines by the year 1900, and they
continued to make treadle machines through 1930.  You will certainly run
across other names as well.  The Smithsonian book " The Sewing Machine
It's Invention and Development" (unfortunately out of print now), lists
about 4000 sewing machines names that were manufactured by less than 20
companies.  Names such as, Jones ( I have two of these - suprise!),
Duchess, Essex, Pet, Princess, Queen, McDonald,  etc.  These machines were
sold by every department store and Mom & Pop store in the country, hence
the large number of different names.  There was a McDonald dept. store in
the town I grew up in Nebraska, do you suppose??  National, Standard, A. G.
Mason, Davis, New Home, White, and Free made most of these machines for
others.  Singer never put any name but Singer on a machine he manufactured,
with one exception.  In 1905, Singer bought out the Wheeler and Wilson
company and continued to use the Wheeler and Wilson name on some models for
a short time.

Singer is the most successful sewing machine company in the US because of
the founder, Isaac Merrit Singer.  He was a marketing genius, a former
Shakespearean actor that new how to sell.  He was also successful in the
capability to mass produce parts for sewing machines that were
interchangable.  This, he borrowed from the firearms industry.  Before
1850, parts were hand made not interchangable.  The man who is recognized
as having contributed most to the mechanical development of the sewing
machine is Allen Benjamin Wilson.  He invented and received a patent for
the rotary-hook stitch forming mechanism in 1850.  He developed the four
motion feed (motion of the feed dogs), and received a patent in 1854.  All
modern sewing machines use a rotary hook and four motion feed.  A. B.
Wilson formed the Wheeler and Wilson company(Wheeler had the capital),
which was second only to Singer in numbers manufactured from 1850 until
1880.  Wilson was in poor health and had to quite the business, otherwise
the company would most likely have been number one.  I have  a  Wheeler and
Wilson #8, made about 1880. It's a delightful machine.
From: (Carrie Bryan)
Subject: when is an antique an antique

Gordy Jones writes,
> Most collectors of antique sewing machines say a machine must be 100 yrs
> old to be classed as an antique.

I like the US Customs definition.  An interesting object becomes an interest-
ing object on which you must pay duty when it is 82 1/2 years old or older.
I can just see the Senators and Congressmen dickering over that one, can't
you?  ;-)
Subject: Dating machines

I've been reading a book written by an old Singer salesman and it provides
some dates I thought others might find interesting:
  late 1800's - model 15 (oscillating bobbin, later used in Japanese models)
  1900 - model 66 (first top loading bobbin, later used in Touch & Sew
  1915 - model 101 (sold for $250, first true electric, but not successful)
  1920's - model 99(66 was top seller, but too heavy for portable so made 3/4
  1933 - model 221(premiered at Chicago World's Fair)
  1935 - model 201 (full rotary, gear drive machine with horizontal bobbin)
  1952 - model 301 (first slant needle machine)
  1960 - Touch & Sew series
Other interesting facts: in the late 1940's there was a big strike at the
U.S. Singer plant, so most machines made at this time were manufactured in
Canada or Clydebank, Scotland. This is when European and Japanese zigzag
models began to be introduced to the U.S.. Hope some of this info is of
interest to some of you - I find the facts about the history of machines to
be just fascinating. Sue M.
Subject: More History...

Thought some of you would enjoy reading the following from the book I have by
the Singer salesman:
 " The machine weighed only 11 pounds, yet performed like a factory-type
machine. It became one of the most popular machines ever offered the American
housewife.  The 221 used all attachments, although a buttonholer created some
strain. The full-rotary mechanism was quiet, efficient, and almost
vibrationless.  The machine could be placed in the special carrying case and
stored in a closet or room without taking a lot of precious space.  Salesmen
liked the machine because it was easy to handle, or carry, for demonstration
purposes.  The machine was a favorite with college girls.  Singer 221 sales
always increased when a new term started.  Unlike previous portable machines,
the basic concept of the 221 was a self-contained unit.  Before the last
machines at the start of WWII, the common way to close a 221 sale was "throw
in the case the machine came in because this is the last 221 until after the
war."  There are many women who "bought the last Featherweight portable
before the war", and could prove it, because the salesman gave her the case."
  I also found information in this book about the Davis machine someone was
asking about.  It seems they produced machines for Sears for most of the
early 1900's. This was when Singer, White or Wheeler and Wilson machines sold
for $40-$75 while a full-size machine in a drop head treadle stand, sold for
$11.25 plus freight from Sears. Later White got the Sears account and after
losing the mail order account, Davis went out of business.
  This book is full of fascinating info - if anyone has any questions it
might answer, please ask. Sue M.
From: (Gordon D. Jones)
Subject: SIMANCO

It was the Smithsonian book that stated that Singer never sold a machine
without the Singer name on it.  Perhaps the name "R. H. Macy & Co." was
placed on the machine after it left Singer's factory and was not
authorized. Then again, the machine may have been an exact copy of a Singer
machine and had a part replaced with a Singer part.  After Singer's patents
ran out, many manufacturers copied their machines.  If the part had SIMANCO
stamped on it, it is most likely a genuine Singer part.  I doubt if anyone
would counterfit parts to that extent.

The Smithsonian book lists Macy under sewing machine names and gives Davis
as the manufacture of machines with that name.

Subject: History and Misc.

     The following excerpts are from an article on FW  I wrote for the Helena
(MT) Quilters' Guild Newsletter in 1988.  My source was SINCERE'S HISTORY OF
THE SEWING MACHINE by William Ewers and H.W. Baylor which I got through
inter-library loan as it is out-of-print.
     "College girls loved them which helped to increase sales at the start of
every term.  Manufacturing of sew. mach. ceased at the start of WWII so this
fact was incorporated into the sales pitch.  Unsuspecting women believed the
salesman when he said he would 'throw in the case the machine came in because
this is the last 221 until after the war.'  To this day many women believe
they truly bought the last machine before the war!
     As they slowly became available after the war, they were once again a
best seller.  Due to quotas, women had to put their names on a list and wait
months for a new FW.
     Singer was commissioned to make a special tool for the Medical Corps
[during WWII].  It was a needle for sewing bone and muscle injuries on the
battlefield.  The instrument was made of a bakelite handle with a 221 FW
bobbin which was fed to a curved needle at the end.  They used pig knuckles
to demonstrate the instrument and to teach medical personnel in its use."
     ....I sold Singers in 1972-73 and one repairman told me that when he
would travel to rural homes and take in a treadle machine as a trade-in, he
and other guys would throw these off a cliff so they wouldn't have to haul
them back to the shop. (Too horrible to contemplate!)  In my 1988 article, a
retired Singer shop owner said the red and white FWs were sold briefly after
the black ones ceased production in 1956 and they were of inferior quality.
From: Kristina Santilla
Subject: Survey Infomation.. a little history

        I spent a lot of time on the phone with Dale Pickens one
evening last week (so get your survey responses in quick because
my DH is going to kill me in a month when he sees the phone bill)
and one of the interesting things we talked about was figuring out how
many Featherweights were made. Singer would do runs of machines. Those of
you who have gotten back data pages from Singer when you asked for
birthdates will know this already. In Nancy's book she says that two
machines with consecutive serial numbers might not be the same model
of machine. This is true, but only at the beginning and end of runs.
Runs (at least what we know about then so far) seem to be anywhere
from 3000 to 20000 machines. Now I challenge you to follow this:
        The first AJ machine was made 12/9/48 (not necessarily a 221)
and the first AK machine was made 11/10/50 (also not necessarily a 221).
This means Singer produced 1,000,000 machines in 23 months. Which means
they made an average of 10,000 machines each week for those 100 weeks.
This averages to be 2000 machines per day if my math is close,  for a
five day work week. So, if Singer tells us in the data sheets that a
particular machine is part of a 10,000 run, was this run really a week
long?  Or did Singer manufacture parts at certain times of the week,
month or year, and then do assembly runs that could put out this vast
number in such a short time?  So far, we have about ninety responses
to the survey, and have multiples with the same birthdate (but I'll get
into that more when I get a little more info, I have sent to Singer for
any birthdates that the owners didn't know, and will let each owner know
the results) we also have a couple instances where the birthdates are one
or two days apart, but I don't know if they are considered part of the
same run. Maybe those of you who have read the book mentioned recently
about the Singer employee have more insight into the manufacturing.
What my goal is here, is to understand the process, so we can make an
educated guesstimate on the total production number of Featherweights.
If any of you have register ranges on a data page from Singer, please
let me know.  They are going to prove invaluable.

        Someone on this list asked if anyone had seen any good original
advertisements for Featherweights, and according to Dale, Singer had a
paper sign that they had available to their dealers ( now probably
extremely rare, but worth hunting for) that showed among other Singer
machines, a Featherweight which it said originated in 1932. Keep in
mind, the World's fair it was supposedly introduced at was in 1933.
The sign also showed the bird's eye maple cabinet for the Featherweight.

        I have to retract something I said some time ago. My husband told
me he knew of someone who had a table that matched their machine. I took
this to mean that the serial numbers matched, but I was wrong. He just
meant that they were purchased at the same time. This is obvious by the
tables that have been sent in to the survey. The serial numbers are
either one letter followed by six numbers, or three numbers followed by
one letter. So far there is no consistency in numbering the tables.

        A Canadian dealer my DH bought a machine from recently told him
a couple things I thought were worth passing on. He said that freearm
machines were never sold in the US. This explains why they seem to pop
up more in Canada. He also said that Singer has just come out with a
reproduction of the Featherweight manual. He is sending us a copy, but
I didn't realize they weren't available before. I read about people
with older treadles getting manuals from Singer. Couldn't you get
Featherweight manuals too?
From: Terry

  The following information was gleaned from a March 3, 1986 article in Time

  Singer (quote) plans to spin off its sewing operations to a separate firm
owned by Singer shareholders thus ending a 135-year old tradition.....The
market started to unravel in the mid-1970s when sales began declining from a
peak of 3 million units a year...Singer correctly read the writing on the
wall.  Its sewing business had become an albatross.
  Mahatma Gandhi called the Singer sewing machine "one of the few useful
things ever invented."  Admiral Richard Byrd carted six Singers with him to
the Antarctic.  During the late 19th century, Russia's Czar Alexander III
ordered workers to use the machines to make 250,000 tents for the Imperial
  "Isaac Merritt Singer [said]: "I don't care a damn for the invention.  The
dimes are what I'm after."  He eventually pocketed about $13 million, some
of which supported the 24 children that Singer fathered by two wives and at
least three mistresses. (unquote)
Subject: Singer Trade Cards & Etc.

 The oldest are all dated 1892 and are color pictures of people from around
the world in native costumes using a Singer machine. The back of the card
tells about the country but does not advertise any Singer products. I have
17 of these.
      The next group are all dated 1894 and are the same as the 1892 cards
except they show different countries and came in a sleeve that says
Costumes of all Nations.  I have 18 of these.
      The next group is called the American Singer series and the various
cards are dated 1898, 1899, and 1900 and are color pictures of song birds.
The back tells about the bird and either a Singer product or a general
statement about using Singer machines.  The only specific machine shown is
the Model 20 and it cost $3.00. These cards are numbered and the highest
number I have is 15.  I do not have all of the numbers below 15 but have
duplicates of some numbers which have the same bird on the front but with
different backs.
    The next group is called American Songbirds and are dated 1926 to 1929
and are similar to the Singer series except they are not numbered and the
backs show 1920's machines.  I have 15 of these.
      Next is a group of 3 early photographs of the Boston Commons and are
undated.  The back simply says Singer Sewing Machine Co and does not
advertise any product.
      I also have 2 cards with pictures of a family setting with the wife
using a Singer.  One is Greek and the other is Japanese and the back of
both cards shows a treadle from the early 1900's and lists the models
available.  The Smithsonian book shows this same card with an American
family so there must have been an entire series.
      2 other cards I have mention the improved Singer but no picture of
the machine and no date.   The last is called Mothers helper and is dated
1899 and is advertising an extension to make the work surface on a treadle
     Other interesting things you can look for are brochures.  I have one
from the early 1900's which shows 7 different styles of treadle cabinets
and also advertises a motor which is like a round ball.  It came in 2
versions, one attached to the machine and the other version sat on a stand
next to the hand wheel which it turned with rubber rings on the end of the
motor shaft.
       Another brochure is dated 1937 and shows Singer machines, vacuum
cleaners and an iron.  It shows the Featherweight in 2 versions, the first
being the Model 221-1 and the second is a Model 24-80 which is a
chain stitch for women who prefer this stitch.  It fits in the same case as
the 221-1.
      Another is a Singer souvenir brochure of the 1904 Worlds Fair in St.
Louis.  No advertising of Singer products but it does have a picture of the
Singer Pavilion at the fair.
      Another is a 1908 Singer Almanac.  Lots of interesting stuff such as
the chemicals that every wife should have in her chemistry set which she
uses to keep from poisoning her family if she is so unfortunate that she
has to buy groceries at the store rather than raise her own.  Sounded like
people really needed the Pure Food and Drug Act.
      There is also a really cute Singer bank from the 30's.  It's shaped
like a book and is covered in red leather.
From: Dawn Scotting
Subject: More bits and pieces

Singer never put any name but Singer on a machine he manufactured, with
one exception.  In 1905, Singer bought out the Wheeler and Wilson
company and continued to use the Wheeler and Wilson name on some models
for a short time.
The man who is recognized as having contributed most to the mechanical
development of the sewing machine is Allen Benjamin Wilson.  He invented
and received a patent for the rotary-hook stitch forming mechanism in
1850.  He developed the four motion feed (motion of the feed dogs), and
received a patent in 1854.  All modern sewing machines use a rotary hook
and four motion feed.  A. B. Wilson formed the Wheeler and Wilson
company (Wheeler had the capital), which was second only to Singer in
numbers manufactured from 1850 until 1880.  Wilson was in poor health
and had to quite the business, otherwise the company would most likely
have been number one.  I have  a  Wheeler and Wilson #8, made about
1880. It's a delightful machine.
Subject: Featherweights, Medallion

     Guess what! Another Featherweight medallion has been "discovered"!

     This one reads:  Texas Centennial Exposition, 1836-1936. The one found
last week read: Golden Gate Exposition, San Francisco 1939. I have heard of
but have no info on a 1933 World's Fair edition, but I now assume it will say
something like: Century of Progress Exposition, Chicago 1933-1934. This got
me doing some research on World's Fairs. There was the New York World's Fair
of 1939-1940 (which was going on at the same time as the San Francisco one
which also lasted until 1940) and then three during the 1960's while
Featherweights were still in production. This means even more medallions
could turn up!
     While we are doing a history lesson (my apologies to those who fell
asleep during History in school) I thought these passages from "The
Illustrated History of the Centennial Exhibition" by James D. McCabe were

quite interesting. This fair was held in 1876 in Philadelphia, at a time when
the telephone, telegraph, sewing machine and typewriter were still quite
     There was a building called Machinery Hall, "All the sewing machines of
the country were represented here, and the display made by them was one of
the most attractive features of the Exhibition...The handsomest displays were
made by the Wilson, Weed, Wilcox & Gibbs, Howe, Domestic and Home companies."

     At this point I was frantically looking for a reference to Singer, and
was so disappointed that there wasn't one. Many pages further I found out
why. "The Singer
Sewing Machine Building was a pretty frame cottage a cost of
$20,000...Among the novelties on exhibit here were a wax-thread lock-stitch
machine, and button-hole and eyelet machine, a book-binding machine, and
several others that were new to the public, one of which was capable of
making 30,000 different styles of stitches...At the close of the Exhibition
the company presented to one of the lady visitors whose name was inscribed in
the register the two millionth machine of their manufacture...Sixty-one
machines, each being of a different style, were in operation here." The book
mentions two awards that Singer won at the show for "Sewing Machines for
Stitching Buttonholes" and for "Family Sewing Machines".
     Also, a couple of early AJ machines, one with a birthdate of 11/18/49
have the centennial medallion, which says 1851-1951. According to its proud
owner the woman at Singer Customer Service said this might not have been
unusual as Singer might have figured by the time it sold it would have been
1950 or 1951. I wish we had  some oldtime Singer dealers or reps on this
list. I would love to get some info on things like this.
Well, Happy Featherweighting!
P.S. Does anyone know which machine made 30,000 stitches?
From: Kristina Santilla (
Subject: Singer sewing machine that sews everywhere 

Anyway, I did find some interesting items at the Library of Congress. I
saw a copy of Jan. '51 Readers Guide. It had an article entitled "Singer
sewing machine that sews everywhere". It was all about the company and
how they grew and was very interesting. One thing it said was that
"Singer advertising in the form of picture cards, pocket mirrors, tape
measures, thimbles, face-powder tissues, fans and calendars accompanied
Singer salesmen everywhere." Great! more stuff to look for!
It also said "In India an ingenious Singer agent popularized the name by
printing it on thousands of yards of white cotton cloth which he sold at
slightly below cost for loincloths, thus creating hundreds of walking
Singer ads". I will *not* be looking for one of these.
"Consumers' Research Bulletin" dated Nov. '49 rated sewing machines and
put the Singer model 221-1 under the heading "Recommended" for portables
and listed it as tied with the Necchi BF and White, Head 77.
"Consumers' Research Bulletin" dated Jan. '53 evaluated the Singer Blind
Stich attachment #160616 ($5) and although they judged it "easy to use
(with practice)" and "easy to attach" bottom line was "Results not fully
satisfactory on all materials. They said it was hard to "get a good hem
without stitching a fold into the right side of the material.
Found some other information I'll post later. The trip to Library of
Congress was overwhelming and quite aggrevating when a request came back
as "Not on shelf" or "Lost". But still worth the trip if anyone ever has
the need to do serious research.
Subject: I Have FW Twins!
From: Terry (
Christine: When the White Sewing Machine Co. took Sears, Roebuck's account
away from Davis Company, they manufactured a Franklin Sewing Machine.  One
of the first Franklin Machines made from the expired Singer Class 27 patent
appears on pg. 176 of Sincere's History of the Sewing Machine (dtd. 1925).
It is beautifully ornate. After Davis lost the Sears account, Davis
eventually went out of business.  (Singer did not drive Davis out of
business as someone on this list was once told.) The National Sewing Machine
Co. also mfg. a machine called Franklin.
From: Kristina Santilla (
Subject: History

        I finally found an article that tells why the FW and its big
sisters were given the pink slip by Singer. The Dec. 20, 1958 issue of
Business Week has an article entitled *More push overseas for Singer
sewing*. Apparently the "Old Guard" at Singer believed they knew just
what consumers wanted in a sewing machine and were whammied by Necchi and
Pfaff importing zig-zag machines. Then they were double whammied by the
Japanese with low priced machines. When Singer finally figured out what
hit them, Singer was only selling 1/3 of the household machines on the
market, compared to 2/3 prewar. "Still... Singer continued to rest
chiefly on its old reliables-heavy, black(with gold lettering),
straight-stitch models dating from pre-war days."
        Singer's answer was to finally install a new president along with
less conservative executives whose marketing stategies included heavy
advertising, pushing models with prices under $69 instead of over $300,
and for the first time selling through 70 department stores and dime
stores. I remember reading that much earlier Singer had sold through
Wannamaker's but that was different in that all Singer salespeople there
were factory trained and it actually operated more like a Singer outlet.
        Foreign markets became more important to Singer as foreign
sales climbed to 60% of total income. Singer decided to produce locally
whenever possible. Previously the St. Johns, Canadian plant had exported
as much as 80% of its production to Latin America and the Clydebank,
Scotland plant was supplying both Great Britain and the U.S. About this
time they opened plants in Brazil, Mexico and Australia to supply local
areas. This article also mentions that the plant at Clydebank had 13,000
employees, and I read somwhere that that factory was so important to
Glascow that a Singer sewing machine was put on the city's coat of arms.
        I guess we should be glad that the Singer people didn't catch on
sooner to the change in the consumer wants, or it would be even harder to
find a Featherweight.
Subject: S.M History & Minnesota adverts
From: (Dawn Scotti
Joyce, according to my 'History of the Sewing Machine' book (library
loan) Howe only patented a machine in 1846. A German named Karl
Weisanthal invented a machine (it doesn't say it was the first one) in
1750. There were five other inventors between him and Howe including the
first American Walter Hunt in 1832-1834.
BTW am I the _only_ person who is curious as to what 'zsuxxa' means?
I've finally finished typing up 'The History of the Sewing Machine' and
sent it out to the two people that requested it, if there's anyone else
that would like it just let me know.
Here's the first few entries:
1750 - Karl Weisenthal, a German, invented a machine with an eye in the
middle of the needle and a point at both ends capable of sewing a single
thread running stitch.
1790 - Thomas Saint, an Englishman, patented a design for a machine to
sew leather. This machine made a chain stitch with a tambour-type needle
to produce a mechanical crochet or chain stitch. It is doubtful whether
it actually worked.
1810 - Baltasar Krems of Mayern, Germany, made a chain stitch machine for
sewing night caps. This had a crank-operated needle and a continuous
material feed, but its greatest innovation was a needle with an eye in
the tip.
                            * * *
Susan Risty has very kindly offered to copy the 'Minnesota' adverts from
the old Sears catalogue for anyone who wants them, you'll need to send
her an sase size about 13x9" if you want them unfolded. She should have
them in about a week.
Subj:    Howe
From:    CTislander
The Singer Sewing Book by Mary Brooks Picken, copyright 1949 has a short
history of the invention of the sewing machine. (Consider the source when
reading this.)
"History tells us that as early as the seventeenth century, men tried to
devise a machine that would sew. Early in the eighteenth century, a French
tailor named Barthelemy Thimmonier invented a crude wooden sewing machine but
it was destroyed by a mob of angry tailors who saw it as a threat to their
livelihood. Others tried and failed. Then in 1846, Elias Howe, Jr., from
Cambridge, Mass., made and patented what is popularly regarded as the first
sewing machine. But it wasn't truly practical. It could sew only six or seven
inches at one time. Not until four years later did another American, Isaac
Merritt Singer, develop the first really practical machine -- one that would
sew continuouusly or until the thread ran out, with a stitch that was the
same on both the right and wrong side of the material."
You all might want to look around in used book stores for this book
(hardback, 244 pages).  It covers the use of just about every attachment and
has very clear illustrations.  Mrs. Picken, who authored 91 books on sewing
and crafts, gives advice on sewing successfully. She says "Prepare yourself
mentally for sewing.... Never approach sewing with a sigh or
lackadaisically.... Never try to sew with the sink full of dishes or bed
unmade.... When you sew, make yourself as attractive as possible. Go through
a beauty ritual of orderliness."
Subject: Standard Sewing Machine Co.
From: Terry (

For those who asked, Standard Sewing Machine Co. of Cleveland, Ohio started
mfg. machines in 1884 and made a machine called 'Oreole'.  That company was
purchased by OSAAN Fur Machine Co. which was then purchased by Singer in
1931. Standard also made machines called 'Margareta' and 'Margets' and
Household S.M. Co. made a 'Marguerite' but I don't find a Margaret.  My book
only covers American-made machines and this 'Margaret Co.' may be Canadian
as was mentioned.  Standard S.M. Co. and National S.M. Co. both made
machines called 'Damascus'. National mfg. machines from 1890 to 1953 and
sold most of their machines through department stores and mail-order houses.
They were located in Belvidere, Illinois.
Subject: Spelling Error, 99s, White FWs, Muller
From: Terry (

        ABOUT THE F.W. Muller Co.:  [Quote from Toy and Miniature Sewing
Machines by Glenda Thomas] Friedrich Wilhelm Muller of Berlin, Germany,
established F .W. Muller Hardware Factory in 1868.  A few years later, he
started producing toy sewing machines.  In 1887, the Muller model No. 1
was built.  Some of the models were offered for just a few years, while
others were made for 40 yrs.  Production ceased during WWII, but resumed
after the war.  The factory closed in 1979. [End quote.] It goes on to say
that many machines were exported and sold by U.S. companies.
        "A Stitch Back in Time" in Texas carries the book F.W. MULLER TOY SEWING
MACHINES by Peter Wilhelm, 32 pgs., text in English and German.  Call them
at 1-800-352-1174.
Subject: more Singer bio plus a little history

Well, you all got me interested in this Mr Singer and I have always been
interested in history so I went to our little local library to see what I
could find.  di nada!  Not even in the encyclopedias.  humph! So I was
talking to the librarians about this before I left, oh, because they were
showing me how to use our MCAT computer that we just got so we can search all
the libraries in the state of Maine.  (I did find The Invention of the Sewing
Machine by Cooper which should be coming to me by InterLibraryLoan.)  So I
went home feeling grumpy because of living where there isn't any anything and
the librarian called me about an hour later and said she just remembered that
when she read *Life at the Dakota* by Stephen Birmingham, Random House, 1979
that it had a chapter with a lot about Singer!  This is because Edward Clark,
the man who built the Dakota (an absolutely fabulously unique apartment
building in NYC which still stands today and yes where John Lennon lived) was
the lawyer who was Singer's partner.  So I got to read that and it was
interesting and later I was talking to my Mom, (who is 82) about this because
she grew up in NYC.  Recently Mom went back to college at 78 and got her
Master's in History and she said *well of course, I wrote a paper about Isaac
Singer for my History of Technology course!*  Yes she still had it!!!!  I was
astounded, to put it mildly.  It's a very good paper and has an excellent
bibliography, if anyone is interested in it I will xerox and send it via
snail mail - I mean the Bib.  She also had a list of her course readings and
some it it is very interesting.  The invention of all this technology did not
necessarily free women up.  In fact one book is called *More work for mother*
 The point being that many many families (not just the upper classes) farmed
out a lot of their house work - ie went to laundresses, seamstresses, bakers,
etc.  With the loss of servants and the increase of new machinery Mothers
started doing all the things that had been delegated to others before - so,
although the work was easier, there was more of it!  An interesting point.
 Enough for today, which is better than the good old days!  Henrietta in Blue
Hill, Maine (
Subject: Re: more Singer bio plus a little history

Yes, I did read that Edward Clark was Singer's Partner.  I think he was a
lawyer and a crafty one.  He did get one up on Singer, which I understand
was a hard thing to do.  I did not know that he built the Dakota, but I'm
very familiar with the building.  I go next door to the Dallas BBQ as often
as I can.  Great food there.  Singer was a wild man.  If I recall correctly
he had about 5 "wives," and sometimes he had wives 2 at a time, and 20 kids.
His genious was not in inventing, although he was OK at "improving" things,
but at marketing.  The sewing machine was originally aimed at tailors, but
Singer invented the idea of marketing to housewives.  My dad called me
yesterday with some old newspapers he had bought and was reading to me from
them.  He said there were alot of ads for sewing machines from various
companies, and the Singers were advertised at $75 to $100, not a cheap sum
by any means, especially for 1860.  One of the marketing techniques
mentioned that there was a shortage of household help so that the sewing
machine was really necessary so that the homemaker can get the clothes sewn.
I can't wait to get my hands on the papers so I can read the ads myself.
Henrietta, I would be most interested to read your mom's paper.
From: Graham Forsdyke (
Subject: Singer Enamel Signs

Re the Singer store signs. Of the last four Singer enamel signs that I bought,
two came from NH and one from Mass so you are in the right area to find them.
Be prepared to pay a premium for the earlier pictorial signs. Singer changed the
design four times to up-date the woman's dress.They were produced between 1905
and 1935. These came in various sizes from 1ft high to 5ft.
Even more of a prize is the large Singer lithograph framed and glazed showing
the first Singer machine in use. As I understand it one of these was presented
to every major Singer outlet in the 1910 period.
From: Jim Wagner (
Subject: Trade-in info pt2 Machines.

As promised here is the final installment of the Trade-in information from
Singer to their dealers.  Unfortunately, they didn't see fit to list the
dates of manufacture for the Featherweight.

Dates of manufacture of various Singer machines.

9-W-7.......................................................1909 to 1913
115-1.......................................................1912 to 1935
15-30.......................................................1895 to 1933
27-4........................................................1889 to 1913
127-3.......................................................1913 to ----
66-1 (Egyptian (green) Ornamentation........................1902 to 1906
66-1 Scroll (red) Ornamentation.............................1906 to 1923
66-4........................................................1923 to ----
128-3.......................................................1917 to ----
128-13......................................................1917 to ----
66-13.......................................................1920 to ----
99K5........................................................1924 to 1925
99K10.......................................................1922 to 1924
99K13.......................................................1924 to 1924
99-13.......................................................1925 to ----
101-10......................................................1922 to 1926
101-11......................................................1925 to 1929

Electric Tables
66-6-19.....................................................1921 to 1925
66-6-20.....................................................1923 to 1926
66-6-305....................................................1925 to 1925
66-6-306....................................................1928 to 1931
66-6-40.....................................................1925 to ----

101-1-17, 18, 19............................................1920 to 1925
101-2-20....................................................19?? to 1926
101-3-40....................................................1925 to 1930
101-4-40....................................................1929 to 1937

Average Cash Price of Treadle Machines
1906 - 1912  $36.80 to 41.60
1913 - 1917  $39.60 to 44.40
1918 - 1920  $44.40 to 55.60
1921 - 1928  $60.80 to 67.20
1928 - 1935  $72.25 to 85.00
1935 - 1946  $84.00 to 115.00

Average Cash Price of Electric Portables
                          128     99      221-1
1922 - 1934             $59.50  $77.00      **
1934 - 1941              59.50   85.00   $88.00
1946 - 1946              69,50   95.00   105.00

Average Cash Price of Electric Consoles
                           66      101     201     15-91
1920 - 1925            $120.00  $140.00     **       **
1926 - 1935             140.00   178.00     **       **
1936 - 1946             155.00     **    $175.00  $150.00

** Not produced during this period.

Everything above is copied verbatum from the list that Singer published.  I
am not responsible for the accuracy of the information.  The date listed
above with the two ?? (Model 101-2-20) indicates that I was unable to
decypher the numbers on the original document.

I hope this information is helpful
From: Graham Forsdyke (
Subject: Singer Banks
Singer banks came in red, blue and green. I've heard of a pink one but suspect
that it is faded red. These are sought after by bank collectors and thus prices
are high but even so I think $75 is too heavy.
From: Graham Forsdyke (
Subject: Who invented the sewing machine?

Telling you who I think invented the sewing machine is easy. One Thomas Saint in
1790 . An Englishman, of course. Had you asked a Frenchman, German, Austran,
Russian or American you would get different answers.
The point over Saint was that his invention was one of many he filed at the same
time and it was stored in the patent office under another heading. It did not
come to light until well after all the patent legislation was won and lost.
The American, Howe is the name you will find in most references books but simply
because he spent a considerable part of his fortune commissioning bogus
biographies perpetuating the myth of his inventive" genius".  One of these bios
claims in one chapter that he was crippled from birth and tells in another how
he led his Union troups on foot into Civil War battles! Suspicious, huh?. There
are also claims that Howe stole his whole idea from another American in the
From: barb garrett (
Subject: electrifying a Singer
     I have a 4 page newspaper type flyer entitled "Home Sewing Helps" which
was published by the Singer Manufacturing Co.  It lists copyright U.S.A.
1932, 1933, 1934, 1935, 1936.  It says it was "Published as a service to
Women who Sew by The Singer Machine Company" and it appears to be a free
handout, but I could be wrong about that.  It is filled with advertising
about machines and service, which is why I think it was free.
     One paragraph that pertains to your question reads -
          "You can turn your treadle machine into an electric easily,
          and at surprisingly little cost, by adding a Singer motor and
          Singerlight.  See how the light will illumine your work, save
          eyestrain, make sewing a joy on winter evenings."
     The accompanying picture shows a treadle model 15-88 with a rectangular
motor attached to the wide part of the head near the cabinet.  Coming out of
the motor is a wire attached to a light that is mounted behind the arm.
     Elsewhere in the paper it says - "If you have electricity in your home
now, or at any later time, you can attach a Singer motor or Singerlight at
little cost and have all the advantages of a modern Singer Electric."  It
appears to me that this was a major selling point for Singer.  I hope some
of this is helpful.

1 comment:

erika01 said...

I would like to get my hands on a copy of Sincere's History of the Sewing Machine.Does anyone have a scanned copy that can be sent as a PDF or a Word document? I noticed that one participant on this blog (a woman named Dawn)had actually typed up the entire book and was offering to share it, but the e-mail address accompanying her post appears to be flawed. Any ideas?