This week, in an incredible stroke of luck, my boss managed to find an absolute gem from history as a store down the street was being cleaned out. Those from this area may remember the bridal dress shop Sullum’s of Olyphant, which had been in business since 1920 until it closed in 2016 leaving a ton of history and old dresses behind. A recent purchase of the building left a lot to be moved out, giving my workplace the chance to house this absolutely beautiful antique Singer sewing table.
After the initial excitement, we obviously wanted to know exactly how old the machine is. Though it turned out to be a simple task, I couldn’t help but think that a bit of art history knowledge helped me grasp the era. The gilded appliques on the sewing machine are very reminiscent of the Art Nouveau style, so I immediately thought to place this piece in the early 1900s. However, the woodworking seemed to lack the classic Art Nouveau embellishments, pushing more towards an Art Deco geometric focus. So generally, I figured the table was from the 20s especially given its former shop’s opening in 1920.
Thankfully, Singer had a great deal of recordkeeping that made it easy to identify the year this machine was manufactured. The well preserved serial number (and a handy chart from the International Sewing Machine Collectors’ Society) allowed me to definitively place this machine at the very end of 1910, making it 113 years old!