Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Miss Wilson

I’d like you to meet the latest addition to my sewing machine family.  I’ve named her Miss Wilson.  She is a Wheeler & Wilson model 9 treadle sewing machine.  She was a birthday/Christmas gift from my mother and father in-law who purchased her at a yard sale near Redmond, Oregon. 
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There were several things that made me fall in love with her at first sight.  One was the very ornate carvings on the cabinet.  You just don’t see wood work like that these days.  There is detail scroll work even on the sides of the cabinet!  This cabinet is a piece of art in my opinion, which is why it is now the first thing you see when you walk through my front door. 
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The top of the cabinet is badly weathered and is severely water damaged.  Fortunately, my father-in-law (Pops) made some Oak veneer for me (that’s right, he MADE it for me!  Pops can do anything with wood and has some amazing wood working tools, but I digress…) so repairing the cabinet will be one of the first projects I do with Miss Wilson.
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Then there is the machine itself.  She is heavy duty and is built to last.  The decals are a bit worn, but still gorgeous.  Amazingly, Miss Wilson is in very good shape for her age.  She works just fine, except her belt is loose, so that will need to be tightened before she can do any real sewing.  Otherwise, about the only thing that needs to be done to the machine itself is to give her a good cleaning.  Did I mention she also came with a few good needles?  As one woman said on a message board, “needles are harder to find than hens teeth for those machines” so I was thrilled to find Miss Wilson had at least 1 good needle.
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I don’t have much information on Miss Wilson in particular, so here is a little history about this brand of sewing machine. (Information sources: http://www.oocities.org/heartland/plains/3081/w_w.html; http://www.sewmuse.co.uk/Wheeler%20and%20Wilson.htm)
Mr. Allen Wilson was working as a journeyman cabinetmaker in Michigan in 1946 when he began the development of a sewing machine.  He obtained a patent for his rotary hook and bobbin combination machine in 1850.  The Wheeler & Wilson company was founded in late 1851 and began to manufacture sewing machines in New York, and later moved to Bridgeport Connecticut.  Although Singer sewing machines would eventually become the most popular brand, Wheeler & Wilson machines were the most popular (and most widely copied) machines in the 1850’s and 1860’s. 
The No. 9 machine was manufactured starting in 1887.  It was advertised as ‘The Only Perfect Sewing Machine for Family Use’.  The Wheeler & Wilson company was eventually bought by Singer in 1905, which continued manufacturing of the D-9 into at least the 1920’s.
Interesting fact:  The W&W #9 in a 5 drawer style cabinet originally sold for $65 dollars.
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I don’t know the exact age of Miss Wilson, but based on her serial number and information I’ve gathered on the internet, she was “born” sometime between 1898 and 1906.
When I’m done with Ms. Rusty (I’m beginning to wonder if that will ever happen!) then I’ll invite you to join me on the repair and cleaning of Miss Wilson.  Rest assured that due to her age, rarity, and relatively good condition, Miss Wilson will NOT be getting the full strip down treatment that Ms. Rusty has received.

3 comments:

  1. Well gee if you're making veneer, how much harder is it to apply it?
    Seriously, this is a lovely piece of history.
    Your info narrows my SN of 23493557 way down to 1897-1898, and Miss Wilson wins the beauty contest hands down!!
    Happy Birthday indeed.

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  2. What a lovely machine. Can't wait to see her gussied up.

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  3. Ah, she's pretty! Now I'm eying up the singer treadle machine that is lurking at the bottom of my stairs.

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