In 1869 L.O. Deitrich (Vesta), Hermann Kohler, and Gustav Winselmann (Titan) started a new sewing machine company in Altenburg Germany, known a L.O.D. and they produced Vesta sewing machines, Kohler was primarily in charge of advertising and Kohler machines were primarily sold in the German home market. They had all worked for Muller prior to forming their own company.
The “Sowitch” was a badged Vesta machine made for the English market and bears the older Vesta logo on the pillar, in their day they were considered to be some of the finest machines ever made, with a smoothness of operation that is something one needs to experience first hand.
After some time Winselmann left the partnership to produce his own machines which were also beautifully designed and often extremely ornate like our TS high Arm… this machine was imported into London in 1902 by a G. Lobi and was given a 5 year guarantee.
Pfaff was another major company producing machines in Germany, established in 1885 by Georg Michael Pfaff, a German instrument maker and entrepreneur… they deserve an article of their own due to their massive success.
By 1910 they had produced a million machines and employed a thousand workers.
Deitrich and Kohler continued on after the departure of Winselmann and produced machines for their own domestic market and for export, some British machines like the Harris Model 9 was a badged Vesta machine.
After World War 2 L.O.D. was absorbed by the communists into a larger cooperative while Winselmann’s factory did not survive the war and was never rebuilt, Pfaff also continued to do extremely well as they were in West Germany and not subjected to Russian rule.
At the turn of the last century, the largest sewing machine factory in the world was Singer’s facility at Kilbowie Clydebank, which was completed in 1885 after a smaller factory in Glasgow (doing mostly assembly work from imported parts) was closed down.
It had a million square feet of space and employed 7000 workers, and even then they could not meet production demands and customers were put on wait lists. This was when they were producing 13,000 machines a week and still unable to meet demands. In 1905 they expanded their buildings to be 6 stories tall to provide more workspace.
By 1943 the factory would have produced thirty six million machines.
This old 28K was made in Kilbowie (that is what the K stands for) and in checking, this rather large run of machines totalled almost 100,000. The models Singer offered in 1900 were not as expansive as they were a few decades later and the 28K was an immensely popular model, accounting for a high percentage of Singer’s sales.
The 28K was the 3/4 sized version of the 27 and was most often offered in a wooden case with a handcrank, while the 27 was most often fitted to a treadle.
I made a new handle for the handcrank on the wood lathe as after 122 years and a good bit of use, it had failed, the machine turns still over as smooth as silk and makes a beautiful stitch.
Not rare, no museum piece by any measure but a solidly made precision tool that has lasted for generations.
Birth of A Sewing machine was filmed at the Kilbowie factory in 1934, it is a wonderful (silent) film.
The last of the series came with a more powerful motor (.8 amp) and an improved stitch length control, we usually add a new spool pin with a guide as this works really well with thread stands to maintain a correct thread path.