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!