Antique Sewing Machines

Antique Sewing Machines: Determining Age and Rarity

One of the most time amazing inventions to hit the general populace would have to be antique sewing machines. Attempts to invent, develop and manufacture automated sewing machines dates back as early as 1755 when a British patent was issued to Charles Weisenthal, a German inventor. Although there was never any proof of the machines existence, the patent eludes to a new type of sewing needle that was to be used in an automated machine.

Antique Sewing Machines

Antique Sewing Machines

First Patent

The first patent to be issued for a completed machine used for sewing was later issued in 1790 to Thomas Saint; an inventor and cabinetmaker in England. More attempts to develop a sewing machine were made in 1804, 1810, 1814 and 1818 by several inventors; all prototypes met with little or no success. This streak of bad luck where the sewing machine was concerned seemed about to end in 1830 when Barthelemy Thinmonnier; a French tailor, developed a machine that used a single chain stitch, the same as used in embroidery. However, any plans to further develop or market the machine were brought to an abrupt end when an angry band of French tailors almost killed Thimonnier and burnt the garment factory he owned to the ground because of their fear of unemployment resulting from his invention.

With every attempt made by various inventors to develop a working sewing machine, success was coming closer to producing a fully functioning machine. Around the year 1834, a man named Walter Hunt was the proud builder Americas first successful working machine, however, he later lost his interest in trying to have a patent for the machine because he feared that such an invention might cause widespread unemployment in the then fragile garment industry. Later, in 1846 an American patent (which was the first) was granted for a sewing machine to a gentleman named Elias Howe. Although Howes machine did function properly, he spend several years trying to enlist help in marketing the machine, as well as defending his patent from other inventors trying to imitate his invention. Howe had no way of knowing that his vision for his sewing machine was about to receive a boost in the marketing area as well as boosting his own financial assets.

Mass Production

In the late 1850s, Isaac Singer began mass-producing these functioning antique sewing machines, having improved on the previous designs. However, since Elias Howe owned the first patent, after many years of court battles to defend his patent rights, Howe was granted sole patent rights to the eye pointed needle used in sewing machines. With his patent firmly in place Howe was now entitled to a portion of the profits from every sewing machine sold by any company using a pointed eye needle in the machine. Singer, as well as other sewing machine manufacturers, were forced to share the profits from the sell of their sewing machines. Over the course of 13 years, Howes portion of these profits added up close to two million dollars testifying to the number of machines purchased.

What Are Some Signs A Machine Is An Authentic And Rare Antique

When looking at antique sewing machines, the best way to determine the age and rarity of the machine is to arm yourself with knowledge. Do research into the different styles and types of machines that were available. Generally, if the machine is in good condition and an authentic piece, then somewhere, usually the bottom, the machine should have some sort of small metal plate that identifies the manufacturer and sometimes the year it was produced. As long as you can find some type of marking identifying the manufacturer, doing a history search of the company can give you valuable information including when the machine was produced and how many were produced.

Some Of The Original Manufacturers

Many people dont realize exactly exactly how many different brands of sewing machines were produced during the machines early years. This can lead to a tendency of disbelief that a machine is authentic, because the manufacturing company may not be one that a collector recognizes or is familiar with. Dont discount a sewing machine simply because you do not recognize the name of the company that produced it, its quite possible that the company only existed for a short time. Utilizing the Internet to do research on the company can often prove valuable in gaining not only the information you require but perhaps even finding out about the machines details. Some companies offer online catalogs that, in some cases, date as far back as their beginning. Some of these catalogs give in-depth details about every model that was produced, things such as; the year, the name of the model, the price and the design specs.

How To Determine A Machines Value

Determining the value of an antique sewing machine is based on several factors; demand for that type, rarity and condition. The market is determined by the demand for that particular machine, the higher the demand, the higher the value. And if the piece is one that is not easily found, this will also add to the value significantly. Finding the piece in excellent condition is a huge plus, depending on the profit that can be had, you may want to consider restoration as well.

Some Of The Best Places To Find Antique Sewing Machines

One of the best resources for finding these types sewing machines would be antique stores, but some of the other available sources might surprise you. Flea markets are great for finding rare, old treasures. People do not always recognize the value of something at first glance and have a tendency to want to be rid of it, especially if it is old and dusty, so yard sales can offer some surprising results too. Resale shops and thrift stores can often yield some surprising results as well. You make want to check the local ads in your area and the local sewing business too, there are people who decide that an old sewing machine is simply in their way and want it gone. Enjoy your treasure hunt for antique sewing machines.

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Antique Dining Chairs Tips

Antique Dining Chairs: Determining Vintage And How Rare They Are

As with any type of antique furniture, all antique dining chairs are unique and need to be evaluated on a case-by-case basis. However, there are common traits to look for when attempting to judge the vintage and rarity of a piece. Antique chairs, in particular, can be difficult to judge because they almost always come as a set. This makes judging their value as an entity more complicated because some chairs may appear older, show more wear, or be slightly different from the rest (due to past handling or refurnishing attempts). It is also important to remember that, when determining the level of vintage of a set of chairs, is not uncommon for one chair in a set to break and be replaced in the course of its lifetime, leaving the chairs in the set – while probably still aesthetically similar – quintessentially mismatched. Antique furniture experts define “antique furniture” as furniture crafted before the 1930s.

Antique Dining Chairs

Antique Dining Chairs

Guidelines To Assessing The Vintage Quality

  • Look for the craftsman’s signature on antique dining chairs. It was common practice in the past (and still is, to some degree, today) to include some sort of signature on the items one creates. It will not be obviously viewable, that would diminish from the chair’s aesthetic value, so you should check places such as the inside of the chair’s legs and under the seat. If a signature is located, you can consult reference books, an expert, or the Internet in hopes of discovering its origin.
  • With wooden dining chairs, as with any wood furniture, the wood is going to shrink and warp slightly as it ages. If you measure a piece from several different angles and the measurements should match perfectly but they don’t, this could be taken as a sign the piece of furniture is vintage. This is not a fool proof indicator, by any means, but it is something to consider.
  • If at all possible, attempt to (very carefully!) remove a screw from the chair in question. By looking at the end of the screw, you should be able to determine if the chair was constructed before or after the mid-1800s. If the screw has a sharp point, it is probably a more modern piece of furniture because up until the mid-1800s, screws were crafted to have a duller, flattened end.
  • You should attempt to test the chair’s finish, if there is any way you can be allowed to do so. This is one of the most accurate ways to date a very old chair. You should test the piece in an inconspicuous spot, using only denatured alcohol (and only a very small amount). If the finish dissolves, it is shellac. This could help you date the piece because lacquer and varnish were not invented or used on furniture until the mid-1800s. However, if a piece is exceptionally old, it might also have been finished using milk paint, wax, or oil. If the piece is painted, you should test its paint with a very small amount of ammonia. Ammonia will remove milk paint, wax, and oil. Knowing that one of these substances was used to paint the antique dining chair can help you determine its vintage.
  • As far as judging how rare antique dining chairs are, it is probably best to consult an expert unless you have a lot of experience. Because there are many variables and tiny details to consider, an expert opinion will save you a lot of time in the long run, as well as probably being more accurate than an amateur opinion. So how do you find this expert?

Finding Antique Appraisers Who Might Help You Gauge Rarity

  • Ask local antique dealers or antique auctioneers to recommend someone for you.
  • Attend an antique event or show in your area. You should be able to find an antique dealer (or a good recommendation for one) at these events.
  • Create an account at websites like iTaggit to find out when free antique appraisal events are happening near you.
  • Try going to an Antique Roadshow convention! Their tour dates can be found on the PBS website or by simply typing the shows name into Google. Find out when they are coming to a town near you and make a day of it, this could be fun as well as an effective way to have your antique dining chairs judged! Keep in mind that many well respected, certified appraisers offer free antique appraisals at their homes or business locations – all you have to do is ask! Also, you can often find one of these experts offering their services at community events, lectures, or fundraisers.

Ways You Can Evaluate Rarity On Your Own

  • Do your research. There are countless books, journals, magazines, newsletters, and websites full of information for people interested in judging antique furniture. There are even specific ones made for people interested in antique dining room chairs! Note as many characteristics of your antique as possible, then begin to search out the rarity of that trait. Pay special attention to color, finish, style, size, and craftsmanship.
  • Like when you are trying to gage the vintage of a piece, it can be extremely helpful to your cause if you can locate a signature from the craftsman on the piece. If you find the signature, you could research it to learn if the particular maker was someone who made many pieces of the same furniture, or if he liked to make unique, individual pieces. This will obviously help you to determine if the piece is rare.
  • Lastly, use your own common sense and judgment when deciding how rare you believe a piece to be. If it looks like something that could only be build as a one of a kind piece (if it has very intricate, hand-done work, for example) then you should still do your research but also follow your gut feelings. Likewise, if the piece appears to be of a nature that would be easy to replicate, you should be suspicious that it might not be that rare of a piece.

As you can see, determining vintage and rarity in antique dining chairs is a very complex, multivariable undertaking. However, if you can find that perfect set of antique dining chairs, it is well worth the effort.

You can read more about furniture: Ultimate Dreams Mattress: Tips Mattress for Side Sleepers

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