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used sewing machines

Singer Sewing Machines – Facts

singer 29k sewing machine

Singer 29k sewing machine

If you’re a fan of used sewing machines, then the Singer name will be familiar to you. Singer is synonymous with sewing machines, and for almost one hundred years, it was the best-known sewing machine in the world (and still is to an extent).

There are plenty of interesting facts about Singer. Here are just some of them…

  • Isaac Merrit Singer (1811-1875), the founder of the Singer Sewing Machine company, patented a prototype sewing machine that could sew 900 stitches in a minute
  • Singer is thought to have fathered at least 24 children with his wives and mistresses
  • used sewing machines

    Singer Model 1

    The first Singer sewing machine was known as the Model No. 1

  • Singer’s general manager George Ross McKenzie was given the job of finding Singer’s first overseas factory. A former Scot who’d emigrated to American in 1846, he chose Glasgow.
  • The company soon outgrew its Glasgow location, and it purchased land in Clydebank – the Kilbowie factory and building was completed on this in 1885
  • By the summer of 1885, Singer’s Kilbowie factory was the largest one in the world
  • Best-selling Singer domestic sewing machines include the Singer 12K, the Singer 99 and the Singer Featherweight. If you like used sewing machines, you’ll be able to find these
  • Clydebank’s most famous landmark was the Singer 200ft clock tower – the largest four-faced clock in the world. Each face weighed a massive five tonnes, and it took four men 15 minutes twice a week to keep it wound up.
  • The company began mass-producing domestic electric sewing machines in 1910
  • Singer’s success was also credited to its instalment payment plans. The company offered credit purchases and arrangements for rent to own where people could rent the sewing machines and eventually buy them
  • In 1913, at the peak of production, the factory shipped more than 1,301,000 sewing machines around the world, thanks to its 14,000 employees.
  • The factory was bombed during the Clydebank blitz in March 1941. No-one was killed at the plant, although 39 workers died in the town
  • Many Singer used sewing machines and vintage models are now collectors’ items
  • The Singer Corporation is now part of SVP Worldwide, and it produces a range of consumer products, including electric sewing machines.

Sewing4Everyone specialises in the sale of used sewing machines, including Singer sewing machines. Check out our range to see if we have the sewing machine that suits you needs.

 

Antique Sewing Machines – the Singer 48K

 

singer 48k sewing machine

When it comes to antique sewing machines, a well-known example if the Singer 48K machine.

The 48k machine was only made at Singer’s Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland between the years 1900 and 1913. According to the company records, at least half a million machines were made, and at the time were priced at £4 12s 6d – roughly £460 in today’s money. It was Singer’s cheapest selling family sewing machine.

The 48K is a transverse shuttle model – the shuttle moves from left to right. Its other features include

  • A hybrid shuttle
  • A self-setting standard 15×1 needle and not the old round shanked, 12×1
  • An upper tension control sited right of the faceplate
  • A shuttle eject mechanism
  • Black hand wheels – this is probably because some countries taxed machinery import with plated parts, as they were thought of as luxury items.

Attractive Antique Sewing Machines

It is a very pretty-looking machine. Singer only decorated the 48K machines with the Ottoman Carnation ornamentation and the Ottoman Carnation with Indian Star decals. Why? The idea is that India was an emerging market at the start of the 20th Century, and the use of the Indian Star sticker was a deliberate attempt to stimulate the market.

What makes the Singer 48K something of a mystery when it comes to antique sewing machines is that it used technology which was outdated at the time. Other Singer models were better machines, and far more up to date. Why produce something like this?

singer 48k sewing machine

The theory goes that the machine was designed to compete with German-made, high-arm (the high arm allows free movement of the material) machines that had dominated the British market for many years.

Designed for Export?

Another theory is that it was intended for export to developing countries, but the majority of advertising materials (and there aren’t that many) relate to Singer 48K machines being sold in the UK. There are also adverts for it in New York and Russia, though!

Nowadays, the Singer 48K is a rare thing, which perhaps gives credence to the idea that 500,000 machines were not made. Some experts on antique sewing machines have disputed this number, claiming that a sewing machine that only shows up every six months on eBay is very rare. The primary production period seems to be 1902-05.

singer 48k sewing machine

It is thought that production of the machine might have stopped for various reasons. Number one that it just wasn’t that great a sewing machine. Another reason might be the start of the First World War and the drop in imports of German goods. There was no longer a need for a machine that competed with the German high-arm sewing machine.

Whatever – the machine is something of a mystery, and that makes it very exciting indeed!

Sewing4Everyone sells refurbished and antique sewing machines. Check out our range to find out more.

 

 

 

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