When we walked into Aunt Jenny & Uncle Kevin’s living room Friday evening, I couldn’t help but notice what turned out to be Uncle Kevin’s latest salvage yard score and project. Not knowing it at the time, I dubbed it “The Living Room Art Installation”. Neither Pat nor Edie batted an eyelash at the idea of a member of my family having a new art installation in the middle of their living room, because on that side of the family, there are many artists and among those who aren’t artists, they frequently feature in their homes work by the family artists. A new art installation in the middle of the living room just seems par for the course.
In this case, the ‘art’ in question was a very old Singer sewing machine and treadle table.
Which upon getting home, Kevin had gone through the drawers and pulled out a bonanza of sewing tools and other fascinating tidbits of the owner of the machine a century ago.
More than a century ago to be exact. This handwritten note, written in pencil, dated 1903, was for the purchase of a Horse Harrow for $375, with $100 cash down.
There were old mercantile stamps, buttons and small scissors, empty wooden spools, tools and a variety of attachments to the machine.
There’s an old metal folding tape measure as well as a fabric one.
A check dated May of 1913, a Bayer aspirin tin as well as a thumbtack box, both of which had even more treasures within. A old ring box from Atlantic City, with the ring in the box (stones removed) , skeleton keys, an glass from an old pair of eyeglasses that one wonders if it belonged to the old case also found in the drawer
Within the thumbtack box were these two images – not photos, but daguerreotypes.
Cigs were 25 cents a pack and noted as Cigs. Five gallons of gas were $1.40 and one and a half pounds of lard was 30 cents.
Inside the Bayer aspirin tin was the point of a fountain pen, perhaps the one used to write the list of expenses down?
In the thumbtack box was a small book labeled IMPORTANT READ IT.Along with the directions for use, is an old marketing book for Laxative Bromo Quinine.
It was all quite fascinating and as I tried to document it, thinking it would be a fantastic exercise for me to play with my new camera, I turned around and noticed there was a second shooter. It seems Edie is currently working on a school project that is about documenting previous cultures. Or something like that. If I were a better helicopter parent, I’d know more, but you know what? I’m more of a hands free slacker type parent than I am a helicopter parent. She picked up my other camera and started shooting her own photos for her project, some of which are included here.
I spent a little bit of time googling old Singer Sewing machines and I believe this is an Model 12, made from about 1865 until from what I can tell, sometime around the late 1880’s, maybe even the turn of the century. The distinctive fiddle shaped base helped me ID it. Interestingly enough, as much as sewing machines have changed over the years, Aunt Jenny & I were still able to look at some of the basic parts and tell exactly what they were. Despite adding electricity and computer settings, a presser foot still looks very much the same. Looking at this user’s manual online, I was able to ID some of the parts – like the embroidery attachment. It appears that many of the original attachments are still with the machine, making it quite the score.
Uncle Kevin’s goal is to get it up and running again, to display it as well as it’s parts. I have to admit, I do have a small hankering to give it a trial run once he does. It’s fascinating to think what was made on that machine over the years and all the places that desk has been, with those items staying intact for over a century.
10 thoughts on “Uncle Kevin’s Art Installation.”
Not just cool, but totally awesome. I’d have loved to have gotten my grandmother’s treadle singer, but alas a cousin who doesn’t sew got her hands on it…
Send her this and maybe she’ll let you play with it.
Amazing! I love this whole thing – and I really want that Bayer Aspirin tin to go with my ancient medical supply collection!
I will let you two sort that out amongst yourselves.
The equipment is cool but the ephemera is even better. Uncle Kevin can bring his finds to my house anytime!
He has to work through my list first!
That is so cool. Nothing beats old junk. I’m a fan of going through that kind of stuff–old post cards, thimbles, scraps, letters…
Love old stuff. Love the stories it tells.
Wow, that’s amazing!