15 January 2012

Hard to believe Paul and I are celebrating our first wedding anniversary on Tuesday-wowsa, where DID the year go?!

Well, of of course the answer is that four months of it went to VisaQuest, lol, while I lounged about my son's flat. ROFLOL, lounging as in cleaning the oven for the first time since my son moved in the previous August, and other Mom-on-a-visit type cleaning. Laundry, sorting, and through it all my grateful son thanking me for unearthing things he'd thought he'd lost. It was a great visit, and took up four of the twelve months of Paul's and my first year of wedded bliss.

The remaining eight months have been rather good (oh I am getting the hand of British understatement:). Nothing is perfect, saves boredom, but it has been rather nice to be married to Paul over this past year. We have a quiet life, lol, our biggest excitement being the latest incredible sewing machine find-permit me to digress from blethering on about my blissful marriage to bang on about:


And I do mean pristine! It's in amazing condition, the Victorian decals barely worn although it is clear the machine was being used by a homemaker as recently as 15 years ago-we found sewing notions in the tool compartment on the machine case that we can reliably date to having been sold in 1997.

I don't really know how these women manage to keep the decals on the machines in such good condition. When I use mine, I tape a plate of cardboard over the decals, but I really don't know if that's how the original owners managed. I do have one near antique Singer with most of the decals worn off where the fabric feeds across the flat bed, so I am always astonished when I find one with age AND intact decals.

Now, as to how this little beauty has joined the collection...

There is a charity shop here in town that does wonderful work with people who have hit a really rough patch (usually unemployment or loss of the main wage earner), they are a bit like Habitat for Humanity without the house building aspect. We like to support them by visiting often and buying (if we need a piece of furniture, they get amazing stuff!).

Because of Paul's background and my amateur interests, we've steered them towards using an auction service to sell the better things they get in. They really do get amazing things, Art Deco wardrobes, glass and housewares, and other bits and sticks that we know sell for incredible prices. Paul advises them on the furniture and glass, etc-made them hundreds of pounds they wouldn't have got otherwise.

So we volunteered to come in and check anything they had questions about, and for me to do the function tests on any sewing machines they get.

This came about because I bought two machines from them that were originally hideously overpriced (and one needed extensive repairs). I spoke with the manager on both occasions and was able to show her why those machines were over priced, which led to her throwing her hands up and saying that many of their clients would love to have a decent working machine...which led to my saying I would come in and check any machines before they priced.

I got a lovely free-arm that way-the second originally overpriced machine. The manager watched me carefully take it apart to find out why the bobbin wouldn't wind, then fix it so that the bobbin winder feature was restored to full functionality-she was so pleased that I could actually do what I said I could that she offered it to me at half the price I told her she could reasonably get for it in the shop-since I didn't have a free-arm and needed one, we had a deal!

The first over-priced machine was an interesting sale, too. I simply turned the hand wheel-which was jammed, and pointed that out to the manager, who then asked me what I would pay. The machine is a duplicate of one I own and love, but mine came without the instruction manual which would have cost me £17 to order and have shipped. The one in the shop with the original instruction manual but needing majour repairs was priced at £25, and I told her any buyer would have to spend at least £40 to have it fixed. I told her I needed the manual and offered her the £17 but she dropped it to £10, and I scurried home with the machine as fast as I could!

So over the past few months I've gone in and checked machines, fixing if I could and leaving a note on what was needed if I couldn't fix it on the spot so buyers would know what they were getting.

I've even made them money by having them send Feather Weights to auction, where those beauties have raised several hundred pounds for the charity. She told me once they would have priced those especially low because "They're so old..." OMG OMG OMG OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!

So. Last Monday morning we got a phone call asking me to come have a look a 'really old one'. Since I've got them able to recognise a valuable Feather Weight, I hotfooted it down there thinking they had something REALLY special, and oh my word, did they ever!

As you can see, the very rare coffin lid case is in outstanding condition, as are the decals, the hand wheel, and the crank.

I took down the serial number all the while nearly incoherent with joy that I was actually in the presence of such a rare old Singer-I could tell from the serial number that it was a pre-1900 model, I could tell from a quick examination that the machine was is perfect working order (oh wow, it had a sharp clean needle in it and modern sewing notions in the tool compartment), and I was just flabbergasted to see the coffin lid at all much less in such amazing condition. LOL, I really couldn't stop babbling, I kept telling the woman I'd never hoped to see one in person outside of a museum.

After making sure she knew it should have a reserve of at least £50, I left the shop and skipped all the way home with the happiness of having been able to handle such a rare piece of Singer history. I contacted Singer to date the machine and download an instruction manual.

Tuesday morning the answer came back as I'd suspected-this little love, a 3/4 version of the larger vibrating shuttle model 27, was built on 17 March, 1898, in Clydesbank, Scotland. Official name: Singer Sewing Machine Model VS 28K. Oh. My. Gosh! I contacted the charity shop manager to give her the results and went back to my quiet life. I was very excited, of course, to think they would get at least £150 for it at auction, after all it is a rare coffin lid in excellent condition, a functioning machine that makes a gorgeous professional stitch, goes all of the time for £150-250 depending on how many collectors are at the auctions...

Thursday we went to Dundee to celebrate our wedding anniversary a bit early. We came in late in the afternoon to find a message on the answer phone-their auctioneer refused to handle such "...an old piece of tat..." and would I like to have it-FREE OF CHARGE?

WOULD I?????????????????!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Paul lugged it home, all fifty pounds of it, walking a mile carrying this thing home. I still cannot believe we have it in the house. Just the coffin lid case is rare, to have the case and machine looking as though it's maybe twenty years old is incredible.

We're going to recondition it (only needs a bit of a tune-up as it looks as though it was unused for about ten years but stored in a dry, clean, and warm spot) and sell it on, donating the proceeds to the charity. I feel so lucky to have a chance to have this 114 year old machine visiting my house!

Right, back to marital bliss. ROFLOL, I do not recommend finding a new husband online but it's sure worked out for me:) Paul and I think the only fly in our balm is that Fox and The Grandson live across the Atlantic.


  1. First off, concats on your anniversary.

    We think that auctioneer needs to get out more, or something. We can just imagine him with an original Picasso: "What on earth can I do with a painting by some dead Frenchie?"

  2. Thank-you, we had a lovely, quiet and peaceful day Tuesday, spent most of it laughing about how frantic we were on our wedding day a year earlier, lol!

    LOL, LOL, too right, '...some dead Frenchie?' is just perfect!

    I was gobsmacked that the auctioneer was so uninterested-except, when I went into thank the manager of the charity shop for letting me have the machine free, she told me he offered them £5 to dispose of it, and she figures he just wanted to sell it on himself. I don't think they are going to use him anymore. I gave her a couple of names of reputable dealers who would be happy to handle any machines in the future, so it looks as though the charity still wins.

    The two dealers we recommended are very honest and love these old machines as much as Paul and I do-they'll make sure the machines sell for the right money and have already agreed to give the full proceeds to the charity.


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