Friday 17 February 2023

Singer 221k featherweight Centennial Badge sewing machine. 1950/1951

In the second, slightly smaller black box we carried home in the MG last week, was nothing less than a Singer 221k featherweight.  This is a very special machine.

It is different from the other Singers. Very small and very capable. I think I'm very lucky to be the custodian of such an Iconic sewing machine. 
When you open the box, the first thing you see are the accessories neatly packed in a tray. It is all there!
Even a (French) user manual. 
Under the tray the sewing machine is safely ensconced between four pillars supporting the tray.
Next to the machine there is a pretty oilcan neatly clipped to a plinth.  
This machine looks to be in good condition. The black paint is shiny and the decorations and script are all still very nice. Also the mechanism turns freely. According to the serial number, this machine was manufactured in 1950, but there is a very nice badge celebrating a century of sewing service from 1851 to 1951. This is known as a Centennial Badge. Reading about this I found this badge celebrates 50 years of sewing machine production by Singer, but the badges were sometimes mounted on slightly earlier machines, but oddly not all 1951 machines received the badge. 

I gave the machine a first clean and put some new oil in the oiling holes. Everything seems to be moving freely, so now we can connect the power cord and pedal.  With the power on and the light came on. It' s alive!
The motor works well and we'll clean and oil some more later. I expect we'll be sewing with this machine soon!  
Here you can compare the General Electric Sewhandy and the Singer Featherweight.  
As you can see, these two machines look very similar. I admit I'll need to read more about the Featherweight, but it seems they are related.
According to Wikipedia there is a reason for the similarity of the Singer Featherweight and the General Electric Sewhandy:  
"The first sewing machine designed for portability, with a completely enclosed movement, was invented in 1928 by Raymond Plumley and Richard Hohmann, engineers for the Frederick Osann Company, who took advantage of then-recent advances in alloy technology to create a machine housed in a lightweight cast aluminum body. Osann subcontracted manufacture and assembly to the Standard Sewing Machine Company of Cleveland, Ohio, which marketed the machine under a number of brands, including Osann, Standard, and General Electric.
Both companies encountered financial difficulties as the Great Depression worsened; Osann was acquired by Standard, which was in turn acquired by the Singer Manufacturing Company. Singer continued production of the Sewhandy under the Standard brand through the early 30s while working on an improved design, which would be introduced as the Model 221 during the 1934 World's Fair. Like the Sewhandy, the 221 featured aluminum construction and small size, weighing only 11 pounds (5.0 kg), as well as an improved self-fastening bobbin case which simplified the design of the machine's bobbin driver." (full article here)