Thursday, October 22, 2009

Vintage Thingies Thursday: a Minnesota Model A Sewing Machine

It has been a week for sewing machines around here!  For today's Vintage Thingies Thursday I'm excited to share with you a beautiful Minnesota Model A sewing machine and cabinet / treadle stand owned by Jo, one of Serendipity Handmade's readers!

This lovely "Minnesota A" treadle machine was first owned by Jo's great grandmother, Etta Propst Barger, who was born in Hickory, North Carolina. Mrs. Barger was married in 1898, and probably purchased this machine around 1910. Research tells me that this machine was made in the early 1900s, and dates prior to 1912. It probably sold for between $16.00 and $20.00.

It looks like a Singer, doesn't it?  According to the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society (ISMACS),  where I obtained most of the information for this post, this Model A machine was made by the Davis Sewing Machine Company for Sears and Roebuck. I adore the Davis Sewing Company trading card that I found on the ISMACS website.

ISMAC also states that the Minnesota Model A is a "near exact copy of the Singer Model 27/127, the most popular Singer model at the time."  It is the Davis "Model E" machine, but was known by the name "Model A" for Sears.  It was sold by Sears and Roebuck as a lower-priced but equivalent alternative to the more expensive Singer brand, and was the "top-of-the-line machine manufactured by Davis."   This practice was not uncommon, as the National Sewing Machine Company also supplied Montgomery Ward with Singer copies. You can read more about the machines from this time period on this page, including the reasons they are so challenging to date, and about valuing machines from this time period here.

Jo told me that she had the cabinet refinished about 30 years ago. It was definitely money well-spent:

Of course Mrs. Barger put her machine to good use, making all of her clothes and also sewing for her children. Jo wrote:  "I have aprons, gowns, lingerie, napkins, quilts and one baby gown that she made. She gave it [the machine] to me and my father when I was five. Daddy and I made doll clothes and hemmed my brother's pants. I have sewed most of my life."  It's exciting to know that this machine has had a long and full life!


  1. The machine and the cabinet are so pretty. I have my grandmother's machine and hope to refinish the cabinet one of these days!

  2. what a gorgeous ornate sewing machine & in excellent condition too..that's amazing!!

  3. I love old sewing machines. I have a few myself. This one is beautiful!


  4. What a beautiful machine! And it seems to be pristine. But oh that woodwork! Fabulous!

  5. What a wonderful machine, love this!!

  6. Beautiful machine and cabinet...I am super late in finishing my comments from Thursday, so got in the way of my blogging!!! Have a great weekend.

  7. I am so glad that you all enjoyed this post...I was so excited when Jo shared the photos with me. I'm sure she is thrilled about your kind comments!

  8. Hello,

    I stumbled upon this blog researching my Sears Minnesota treadle sewing machine. I am desperately in need of a manual and hope the lady at Relic can help me identify which model I actually have. You can see it at Hip Hillbilly Farm dot com.

    I see the comments here are old. I hope this blog is alive and kicking because as fancy would have it I love vintage too. Plus, I am embarking on a lifestyle of wearing mostly skirts and dresses and have been seeking 1950's and 40's skirts, rockabilly blouses and dresses ta boot.

    Thanks for being a presence on the 'Net.


  9. I was actually just given my great aunts minnesota model a sewing machine. I opened it up and it has all of the attachments still and the instruction manual. I am super excited!!


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