When Singer introduced the Singer Model 66 in 1902, it was a revolutionary machine with a stitch quality that was un-paralleled, it was unbelievably smooth, and laid the foundation for models like the 99 and Spartan (the 3/4 version of the 66), 201, and the slant needle machines that also used the new class 66, drop in bobbin.
The Lotus decals were exclusive to the U.K. so were not sold in the United States where they had the Red Eye decal set as another exclusive pattern. If you see either decal set you know you are looking at a model 66 and later models came in your basic black with gold decals.
This Lotus hand crank will be joining our permanent collection but we also acquired a second 66 with Lotus decals that we will be restoring and fitting to a parlour treadle cabinet. We hope to have this machine ready for sale in early October.
Pearl and I take Monday “off” to catch up from the weekend and prepare for the week and so far, it has been an unusually busy August with a lot of repairs, machine sales, and parts getting sent all around the world.
Fall is just around the corner and with that quilting season is upon us; we have been busy getting some lovely machines ready and have three Singer 301A machines in the light beige / oyster white finish ready to start the season. Three are in portable cases while another is in a beautiful cabinet, the design of the 301 is such that it can be easily removed for travel / classes / workshops and then used at home in a full size table.
It has been a cool and wet summer so far but am hoping we will have a warmer fall so I can continue to make house calls with the motorcycle, which carries my mobile kit rather well with room to spare.
We have also been busy with our partners at The Archaic and Arcane, developing and 3d printing new friction wheels for the Elna Supermatic.
Vittorio Necchi started his swing machine business in the early 1920’s, and as the story goes, it was because his wife wanted a new sewing machine. Rather than buy one from the Americans or Europeans, he founded a new sewing company.
Initially, Necchi’s first machine was a very close copy of a Singer 15 but by the late 1940’s and early 1950’s Necchi had become one of the most successful and innovative companies, which held 40% of Italian sales and through savvy marketing, was making a decent dent in the North American and global markets.
Necchi enjoyed their greatest success in the 1950’s, bringing out award winning machines, dominating their home market, and selling more and more machines abroad.
The most coveted of all Necchi machines is surely the Supernova, which came out in 1952 and offered a nearly infinite range of stitches and was described to be without any flaws. The Supernova Ultra came out in 1958 and added a convertible free arm function, and is perhaps the most desirable Necchi ever made.
We recently acquired this Necchi Nora NA “Automatic” which we believe was made in 1957 and I am just gobsmacked at how beautifully designed, and how well this machine runs. We have had, and do have other Necchis from this era that are also wonderfully designed straight stitch machines but these higher end Necchis are a rare find here in Canada.
In looking this machine over she looks almost new as their is nary a mark in her finish, her plates are shiny, and her feet have no wear… she did get a new extra long power cord at some point which makes me think that the wall outlets were few and far between as one sees in older homes.
Pearl is always reminding everyone, that the handles and latches on vintage cases might have been fine when they were made 60 or more years ago but now one might want to add safety straps to provide extra security.
These are really easy to make and all you need is the strapping, a size 18 needle, and preferably, some Tex 70 bonded nylon which most domestic machines can handle.
First you make the two loops to wrap around the case and make them snug as they will stretch a wee bit. After that the handle is added and it’s length has to be such to allow you to slide the loops off the end, one at a time. There are no latches or clips of any kind on these straps.
Holes in socks are just a fact of life and once upon a time, people used to darn them to extend their life, or if you were lucky enough to have a delightful little free arm machine like this Bernina 125, you could darn them on the machine.
Back in 1906 the Boye company, maker of needles, shuttles, bobbins and all sorts of notions introduced their commodity case, which they provided to retailers to display their various wares.
This example probably dates to 1910 and was still wonderfully stocked with needles, a good number of shuttles, and a small number of extra bobbins for machines that, in many cases, have not been made for well over 100 years.
Each one of these tubes contains 3 needles and there are over 200 tubes in the bottom and top carousel.
The top is badly worn but originally had a transfer on top which listed makers and models, and all the retailer had to do was point the needle at the name and would then know what shuttle and needles a customer requires. I am in the process of having a transfer reproduced to restore the top, and to scale so that the reference marks line up.
Boye used their own numbering system and charts are available to cross reference these numbers to match specific makers, some of the needles in the case are quite rare, as many manufacturers used proprietary needles before things were standardized as they are today.
It will be quite a project to inspect all the contents… and make a list of needles.
Isaac Singer died in 1875, and did not see the massive success the company he founded, but the 12k was the machine that made him one of the wealthiest men on earth.
In it’s early days the 12k could cost a year’s wages, and when this example was made a skilled tradesman was making about .25 cents an hour, at 90.00 this was several month’s full pay so would have been bought on installments, and sometimes paid off over as much as a decade.
First sold in 1864, and when the United States was still at war with itself, it was a marvel of engineering that was able to sew everything from silk to heavier fabrics, and surely caused fits among Singer’s competition and made them run back to the drawing boards.
It was one of the first really great sewing machines that really established Singer.
The 12k was very successful and was made for 40 years and into the early 20th century, like many other Singer models it was also widely copied as soon as the patent protections ended in the 1880’s. Our 1902 Winselmann TS is an example of one of the countless copies the Germans made, and continued to make well into the 20th century.
Sewing with one of these machines is a wonderful experience as they turn so lightly and smoothly, and they do sew extremely well.