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Preamble...... (or, you may skip this and go right to one of the links at the top of the page, including a short Singer model 66 differences chart)
To see sewing machines currently for sale, please go to Sewing Machines For Sale
Growing up and living in New England "old things" seem to be a part of everyday life. When I was twelve or so, my siblings and I used to explore a "bottle dump" that was actually a meadow on our property. We called it a bottle dump because working their way up through the grass and rabbit burrows were wonderful colored glass bottles that had been buried there long ago. We imagined that at one time, it had been a place to toss old glass bottles. Hues of cobalt would glisten in the sun, looking all the world like jewels.
Earlier than that, we all learned to be tugged around by the hand from yard sale to yard sale, antique shop to antique shop, barn to barn, in my parent's search for that next wonderful item.
Milk cans with their lids intact, hand irons with no rust, mason jars with lids and no seams, rocking horses made with care by some by-gone grandfather, and caned high chairs without a bit of breaking in the caning. Lead soldiers, waffle irons, ironing boards, and yes, sewing machines.
You would think that one of us children would have grown up to be an antique dealer, such was the number of weekends spent "going for a ride". :) We didn't however, because more than the lesson of monetary value, in those frequent hours spent rummaging or exploring, tapping our feet while grown-ups haggled, looking for dolls and matchbox cars while items were loaded; what we learned was to value not only our own possessions, but more importantly to value the love and care that came with ownership of any one thing.
I used to try and figure out who had owned each find I made. Where did they live? Was the piece in their kitchen as part of their lives? Was it stored serenely behind glass cabinet doors? Sometimes more than the item itself, what was most interesting was where it had been, who had held it, who had cared for it.
I also learned very young about "the one I should have grabbed.....". When I was about four or five, my mother and I were "going for a ride." We stopped at a yard sale, and because I was being such a pest, my mother said I could choose one thing from a selection of toys. Well, I had the hardest time choosing between a three-foot tall beautiful walking doll and a beautifully soft and clean stuffed poodle. When my mother was about to lose her patience with me, I chose the doll. I had never seen a doll that was the same size as me, and she walked. We drove the 45 minutes home and I took the doll to my favorite spot. For several minutes I sat there and stared at her - it was like she was real. But of course she wasn't, and when she didn't magically start to act like a playmate, when I had to actually make her walk, then it hit me. I should have chosen the poodle. I cried and cried, begging my mother to take me back to return the doll and look for the poodle. Well, of course it doesn't work that way, and so for several years the beautiful doll sat in a chair in the corner of my room. I believe we sold her at a yard sale, after a decent amount of time had passed of course. I, as a child, once she had become "established", did not want to hurt her feelings, and just get rid of her right away. She needed to be valued by me or the whole situation would have been worse.
It seems funny to think of this now - the imaginings of a child, afraid to hurt a doll's feelings. But on the other hand, the lesson I learned was to know what I wanted, look only for what I need and can personally value, and then take care of it as if it is the most prized possession in the world. It is. Or it was. To someone, somewhere, perhaps the person who first saved up for it, or the person who first put its parts together. If it is worth having, it is worth taking care of.
This school of thought has helped me throughout my adult life, helping me to keep my life simple (sometimes -lol-), to value my heritage, and to value the working person who builds all that wonderful "stuff". My grandmother is the epitome of this school of thought, and items she has inherited or owned for almost 90 years look like new. She has had this one sewing machine.... aahhh you were wondering when I was going to get to that. Well, as it is with many people, for me, it starts with my grandmother's Singer.
I think I first really noticed it when I was fourteen years old or so. Gleaming black and gold, with a beautifully finished wood base. Well, I knew I had seen something special.
I asked her about it. As for many things in our family, there was a story attached to it. My grandmother is the youngest of eleven children. Her older sister Bessie had a friend who was a seamstress named Mildred Moon. Mildred had made all of my mother's infant clothes, gowns of white organdy and lace as well as everyday clothes on this wonderful Singer. When Mildred passed away, her family asked Bessie to give the machine to my grandmother. My grandmother lovingly used this machine for many years, it being the only sewing machine she had.
When her eyesight started to fail and when she was in her 80's, my grandmother started to mention that I would someday have her Singer. She put it off for a few years, because she still liked to sew on it, and felt that once she gave it up, she was admitting she had trouble seeing. This again showed me the real value of some of our possessions, the ability to keep us tied to something we love. In her case this has been her independence of others, her sewing, her seeing.
Well, she now has great trouble seeing, and I have received the Singer. As the granddaughter who has already cherished this machine for its history, to me it looks almost like new. It's a Singer 99-13 knee-control model in a bentwood case. It isn't extremely rare, and wouldn't bring a huge dollar value, but it has a cherished place in my home. My grandmother told me when she gave it to me "I just had it serviced, and it runs beautifully, just hold the cord up a bit when you sew." What could be more precious than that. The machine my mother's baby clothes were made with, and then used by my grandmother for all those years, and now given to me. Holding the cord up just a bit, and continuing the history.
I will never be the owner of numerous sewing machines. (Numerous being more than say, ten.) Of course, there are many I would love to have, but for me, and to keep my life simpler, I have to consider space, finances, and whether I will actually use the machine (s). And also, I want to consider the history behind each one and what it might mean to me. Please see the link at the top of the page for machines I currently own.
My Dad has also become a vintage sewing machine enthusiast - throughout the website you will see references to his machines, some of his machines are listed on the page with machines for sale. Reference photos of some of his other machines can be found at the page Dad's Sewing Machines.
Note: May 8, 2006 - My grandmother passed away yesterday at the age of 91. Words will never express how much she will be missed, or how much she taught me.
Gram and Pop Pop, early 1930s
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