Monday, October 5, 2009

Mystery machine

On my way home from a cooking class on Saturday I stopped at a rural rummage sale and found this beauty, price $10. I dragged my dad back to the sale first to make sure the thing could be restored because I intend to use it – I don’t need a seventy-pound dust collector, sweet price or not. The parts are intact and there was even a box of attachments and the original instruction manuals in one of the drawers.

Or so we think. We’re trying to figure out how old this sewing machine is and have had trouble pinning down information on a manufacturer. It says “United States” where the brand name is usually printed. But an initial search turned up nothing. One of the instruction manuals said Greist Manufacturing Company. The Greist Brothers apparently made bicycles before joining up with a man named Ebenezer Beecher to start the sewing machine company. But a closer look showed that the company made only the attachments, not the actual sewing machines.

Another manual from the drawer indicated the machine itself may have been made by the Domestic company, which started manufactured sewing machines in 1863. But photos of Domestic machines turn up none with “United States” as the model. I speculated that it might have been a wartime production but then my dad found one reference to the United States Sewing Machine Company in a Smithsonian trade literature archive, which also carries the manuals for Domestic and Greist products.

The only other reference we found was of a Jerome W. Hyde, born Sept. 23, 1861, who was the treasurer of the United States Sewing Machine Company of Springfield, Massachusetts.

So we’ve got manuals from one company and a sewing machine from another. I’m guessing the companies merged at some point, but it would be nice to have more history on the United States Sewing Machine Company so we can date this thing. I’m reluctant to do anything cosmetic to it until we know what it’s worth. Maybe I need the Antiques Roadshow or the History Detectives or those guys from Pawn Stars.

1 comment:

Cammie said...

I have a very similar machine, dated about 1905 and made by Davis Sewing Machine Company in Dayton, Ohio for distribution by Sears and Roebuck under the name Minnesota Model A. My cabinet is very similar to yours, having three drawers on either side with Rams head shaped pulls, but my base is much different. In England, Davis Machines of this era were named "Vertical Feed". After 1910, the Minnesota Brand was made by Domestic. There should be a serial no. on the slide plate. Mine is D1228824. (A 1903 model I found is D1117709, whereas a 1912 Domestic is D3652732) Davis advertised that it made 400 machines a day, so you should be able to estimate age that way. Hope this helps - good luck!