I don't know everything about vintage sewing machines.
There, I've admitted it. (I feel so much better now.)
It's true. Dad and I have bought and sold so many machines over the past eight years that it's easy to think we've seen it all. But the more you learn about sewing machines, the more you realize how much more there is to learn. Allow me to share a couple of recent discoveries.
Over the years we've accumulated a lot of miscellaneous sewing machine parts, accessories, and notions.
Recently I decided to clear out some excess inventory. (Really, how is it possible to have 75 buttonholers in one garage? But I digress...)
In a box of odds and ends I found the round black thing-a-ma-jig pictured above. I didn't know what it was, but it didn't appear to be sewing related, so I tossed it into a bulk lot of notions and craft supplies to list on eBay.
Later that evening, I was reading a post on a Facebook Vintage Sewing Machine group and suddenly a light bulb went off. Another member had the exact same black object and wondered what it was.
It was quickly identified by other members and that's when I realized what we had. We had the top of a sewing cabinet accessory!
Coincidentally we had just acquired the other half a few days before. It was the little glass jar pictured here.
So what is it, you ask? See for yourself!
That's right, it's an inkwell from a Singer #42 Art Deco-style sewing machine cabinet. I already knew from an old Singer catalog that some cabinets originally came with an inkwell. I also knew that the recently acquired little glass jar was the bottom half of an inkwell, but I didn't know what the top half looked like. Until now.
Mystery solved, thanks to the online vintage sewing machine community!
1950 Singer Catalog
That was humbling...
So I'm not an expert on sewing machine cabinets. But I do know my 401's. Or so I thought until this next item turned up.
We've bought and sold more than thirty 401A machines over the years and I thought we'd seen every conceivable combination of accessories, cabinets, and carrying cases. We've also seen how machine owners have re-purposed household items into sewing tools. Some pretty strange stuff turns up in sewing machine cabinet drawers!
Our most recent 401A acquisition came with an unmarked vinyl bag with the foot control and power cord coiled up inside. I'd never seen one before and concluded it was one of those repurposed items. So I chucked it in the rubbish bin under my work table.
Bad idea. (I should have known better after the inkwell incident.)
A couple days later, a fellow VSM group member shared her recent 401A purchase...and there was the same little baggie for the foot control. So I fished the little bag out of the trash, dusted it (and my pride) off, and put it back with the machine.
Which just goes to show that vintage sewing machines can always surprise us, no matter how many years we've collected and studied them.
Drat...I can never throw, sell, or give away anything ever again. It might turn out to be something useful.
Happy Sewing! Barbara OldSewinGear...dedicated to helping you get the most out of your old sewing gear.
OldSewinGear is the collaborative effort of retired repairman Gary and daughter Barbara. We love old sewing gear and enjoy sharing what we've learned in our vintage sewing machine adventures. We are located in Roseburg, Oregon.