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Bits and bobs about my life in my lovely home, Thatchwick Cottage, Pretoria, South Africa.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Tuesday, 19 August 2008: Treasure hunting

Work, work, work is threatening to make this Jill a very dull girl. Fortunately a full weekend of church, birthday luncheons and teas and some relaxing embroidery on the verandah with the Woofs was a refresher. And a little impulsive, spontaneous, extravagant retail therapy thrown in helped too!

Saturday morning friend Elisabeth and I were off to our embroidery class at Uncle Tim's. After class and a slice of feta and spinach quiche in the tea garden, we decided to stroll through one of the antiques shops. Just browsing naturally! But this very handsome black and gold Frister & Rossman sewing machine in used but cherished condition had my name on it. Don't you see it inscribed on the label? (Actually it says Auld Lange Syne and the price!)

Elisabeth would have succumbed to its charms but she is off to another foreign posting next year and a cast iron sewing machine is a tad heavy to put in your luggage. So I just had to buy it for both of us!

I found a suitable nook, of couse, on the wakis (tr. wagon chest) next to my television cabinet filled with a never-switched-on TV set and lots of sewing gear. A bonus was the teak case with inlays and carved sugar twists adorning the four corners. The machine is in perfect working order.
A little 'Googling' discovered that Frister & Rossman was the foremost manufacturer of sewing machines in Germany and the Berlin based company was started in 1864. Machines were exported to the US, Britain, New Zealand and Australia. During WWI shopowners outside of Germany removed the offending machines from shop windows and the Berlin badge disappeared. In 1925 Grizner & Kayser took over the rights to make the F & R machines. Looks my model is a 50R (I have emailed a fundi for more information) which was produced from 1919 to 1955. In 1954 it cost 26 pound sterling, at a time when the average wage was about five pounds sterling a week ( courtesy of Alex I Askaroff's webpage).
So much for the official history. What about the private history? So much more interesting. Not much, I am afraid. The young man at Auld Lang Syne told me he had bought it only a week ago from an old lady who had been taken up into Frail Care at a local home for the elderly. She had been using it right up to her last illness. So I shall just have to imagine how many fine linen sheets and tableclothes were hemmed, little girl's dresses were sewn later to be handsmocked, grey flannels, coats and jackets tailored, dresses with narrow waists and wide skirts created for dances and weddings and piles of worn garments mended. Was it a wedding gift or a 21st present or did she save up to buy it? Maybe as I turn the handle with a satisfying whirr and I sew a straight seam (after I have worked out how to rewind the shuttle and thread the needle) it will whisper its fascinating story to me!


willow said...

Oh, Eleanor, she's a beauty!! A very nice treasure, indeed. I always like to know the background of a vintage item, if possible, too.

Hey, your sweet doggies are in your header picture. Now, how did they manage to jump in there? ;)

Theresa @ Take A Sentimental Journey said...

What a nice find Eleanor . I wish I liked to sew .

Charlotte said...

Wow! This is so interesting. I don't believe I have ever seen a sewing machine like this. I learned how to sew back in the early 40s on a treddle machine. I think it was a Singer. It seems like I have been sewing all my life so I am always interested in seeing old machines. What a beautiful case came with it. What a fantastic find for you.
I'm glad you visited our Spiritual Sundays blog. Ginger and I are enjoying doing it. We hope you will come back there often.

Carrie said...

Thank you for your visit. It is good to have you back from your travels.

Deb said...

This is my first visit to your lovely blog!
Your sewing machine was a wonderful find (interesting facts behind it too) & I love your dogs! We have a black lab named Ben :-)

Tracy said...

Hi, Eleanor! Thanks so much for visiting me today and celebrating friendship! :o) Your machine is wonderful...and so very interesting to learn about it! Thanks for sharing! Happy Day ((HUGS))

A Brush with Color said...

Beautiful machine! What a find. It looks tiny--is it? or does it just appear small? Those old heavy machines are always the best. You'll create more memories with it...

Ms.Daisy said...

Eleanor, dear friend,
I've missed you! The sewing machine you found is wonderful!
I'm sorry about the garage door problem - I know the feeling! I hope it has behaved itself since then, too! LOL!
Your suggestions for the movie review project are welcome! I did see them and really liked them.Thanks!

Mary said...

This is such a lovely machine with the embossed flowers and gorgeous cabinet - so glad you were able to bring it home.

I too learned to sew on a Singer treddle - and my mum never like the new electric model she replaced it with later - said it was too light and didn't sew such a good seam! Being a former royal dressmaker she knew her machines!!!

Nola @ AlamoNorth said...

Good morning Eleanor, Thanks for stopping by my blog. I've come back to visit again and read some of your previous posts.
Your writing is lovely, and so are your photos! You can bet I'll be back and read all the way through your posts, as time allows.
I love antiques and any previously loved items. I find myself doing just what you've done with your beautiful new treasure of a sewing machine. I sit and wonder about it's history, and the previous owner, what life was like when it was new, and what stories it would tell if it could only talk to me!
Here in Texas, it's still summer, so I've got to dash off and run errands before the day heats up too much. If time allows, I'll be back to read more of your blog later in the day; I like the "reading" of others' blogs more than "writing" of my own! Have a wonderful day!