My husband is a collector. When he was young, he collected hit-and-miss engines. Now he collects drill presses and White Mountain apple peeling tools and lighters made by other people as shop class projects, among other things. I don’t collect anything… well, I didn’t until yesterday. It seems my husband, who works as a machinist and has an interest in things with motors, has turned me into a sewing machine collector. Yesterday I paid $10 for an old Singer from the front porch of an old antique mall.
(a grad-school graduation gift from my parents) until the machinist came along! My “stable” has grown considerably with his influence. First there was the Viking Husqvarna 6030 from the early 1970s (features: lovely Swedish design as well as a low gear setting and a free arm, good for sewing purses)…
Then the Necchi Esperia – a straight stitch beauty that we bought for the cabinet ($10 altogether) – from the 50s, but it’s hardly been used. I don’t have a picture of that one, so here’s one of Willie enjoying the Viking’s case.
Next was our honeymoon sewing machine, a $38 Singer 201-2 in a lovely cabinet. It was covered in dust but otherwise ready to sew is now my current favorite.
I thought I had enough. With the exception of two machines I’ll never find but will have to buy if I do: a $25 Featherweight (in my dreams) or a $100 Pfaff 1222 (fat chance), I’d decided the stable is full. No more sewing machines. And then one Saturday when he reluctantly agreed to join me on a trip to Trader Joe’s, I suggested we check out some new (to us) antique shops. One of our stops was empty – with signs outside advertising they’d moved across the street. But a Singer sewing machine, looking to be similar to my 201-2, sat in a cabinet looking pretty rusty and dusty. The machinist suggested maybe they’d just give it to us – wouldn’t hurt to ask.
The proprietress of this antique mall let us know they’d moved because, among other things, a vendor had found a snake in his booth. And when the machinist asked about the sewing machine in front of the old spot, she sounded surprised that anyone would want it. “It’s really old and dirty… Well, how much would you give for it?” He said five or ten bucks. Relieved she now wouldn’t have to dispose of it, she asked if we planned to use it for parts. We said it depended on what we found.
So it came home with us, along with a rusty old milk can, and it’s ready to be restored. And no more sewing machines.