a question of the collection....

A reader sent me this and I thought I'd answer it here since its a question I get asked from time to time.  He writes,

  "This email is asking your thoughts on a tough   question.  I recently found myself coming under a great deal of criticism for collecting old sewing machines.  I have about nine now, and very few duplicates.   My rule is any addition to the family must be old, and be capable functioning, even if help is needed (which is most of the time)   Today I got blasted from a guy who said 'why?'   Why waste money on junk which all do basically the same thing.  They're waste of money and space.  Well,  it's my money and my space.   Have you ever come across this attitude from people you generally respected?  Their recommendation was to pick one, maybe two of my favorites and dispose of the rest.  I disagree.    Any word of wisdom for when another similar conversation arises?"  

I think of it the same way I would probably collect cars if I was wealthy.  Each individual machine has a slightly different feel and sound.  Each does specific tasks very well and others not so much.  As much as manufacturers try there is no perfect machine that can do everything the way I want it all the time.  Granted they don't have me specifically in mind when designing these machines although they probably should.  Like everything mass produced it is designed to appeal to an audience.  I'd be interested to see exactly what the marketing demographics are as sewing has changed so much in just the past five years.  Companies like Brother that provide excellent products at entry level budgets are probably capturing a good portion of the market.  Features that used to be found only on high end machines have filtered down and it's no longer necessary to spend over grand to get pretty much every feature you want.

Where do vintage machines come in then?  It's interesting watching the market as old stuff becomes more rare and highly sought after models see their prices increase year after year.  I admit that I will often hold back blogging about machines that I wish to own because it drives the prices up.  I actually own a number of machines that you guys don't even know about yet!  

Back to the point.  There's a difference between old treasure and old junk and everyone draws their own line.  At this point to me any black Singer looking machine is junk, I know, sacrilege right?  I'm not saying these machines don't work great and have tons of potential life left in them.  What I'm saying is that they're so common I see no need to keep a bunch of them around collecting dust.  I also don't see the prices going up much except on the "special" ones.  I'm obviously not the only one who feels this way.  That being said I still own at least three of these. (no not special ones)

I collect what I like and what will retain or gain in value.  I'm not using these machines anymore because I have more modern machines I like better.  That being said every so often someone wants to try one and we make a go of it.

In the end I collect what I do because for whatever reason that particular object makes me happy to own or I haven't gotten around to getting rid of it yet.  I've learned that it's easier to leave a boring machine on the side of the road then have to dispose of it later.  I only need so many door stops after all.

Here's my current inventory.  I also have a few machines at home that aren't pictured.  Remember, I have a "legitimate" reason for having all these...   I think?

In no particular order:

17 comments :: a question of the collection....

  1. Wow! What great collection.

  2. Hi Brian, I love your blog. That guy has an opinion/preference; you have yours. The two don't have anything to do with each other. What you could say if it happens again that someone criticizes you for your harmless likes or dislikes is, "oh, that's interesting." as in "that's an interesting opinion." Purely descriptive. Don't let it have any emotional impact on you. I love reading about your machines--really what's fun is your enthusiasm and way of describing your vintage machines. Just another opinion!--Monica

  3. hahaha now I read your post more carefully and I see you did not get the criticism. Still love your blog!

  4. Hi Brian, I enjoy reading your blog and have used your videos to learn sewing techniques. Your collection is awesome! It shows the design changes to the machines through the last century.

    Given your occupation and interests, collecting sewing machines makes perfect sense. They make you happy, and they could and most likely will make you some money.

    Next Topic - Could you tell us more about the Union Special machine?

    All the best,

  5. What happened to your Vigorelli Robot? I've wanted one of those ever since I saw the video you posted.

  6. I LOVE your collection!
    I love collecting machines as much, if not more, than actually sewing. If this is how I choose to spend my money and my time, than it's my business. I could be (and have been) into far worse things than restoring history.

  7. I am absolutely DROOLING over your collection! I have many machines as well but your collection is awesome! We speak the same language lol lol :-)

  8. Ahhh! What a nice collection! I LOVE the pink(? I hope it's pink) Brother! Wish I could get my hands on that one! I just love pink!

  9. A Singer Rocketeer!!! Does it run? Did you get it fixed? If so where? I just found TWO. :)

  10. I have what appears to be a class 15 Vigorelli (looks similar to your Necchi and Singer black class 15 models). Was wondering if you have it in your collection and if you could share any information on it! Would love to share pics if you'd like.

  11. Hi Brian I have a dressmaker S-3000AB machine and cant get it out of the zigzag stitch...I've set all knobs correctly so I think but it continues to sewzigzag..please help

  12. Examine this recent article that they made http://rosemonttextiles.com/seatbelt/

  13. Brian,
    I came across your youtube video on the Kenmore 1410 and the button hole attachment. Would really appreciate your help please. I have a similar setup with a Kenmore 158.540 or Kenmore 54. I love this machine and would like to use the buttonhole feature and I got a monogrammer set I can't wait to use. But when I went to attach it, I noticed the little lever on the bottom to make the gears on the plate move was not working. I don't see anything I can do to adjust it. I'm wondering if its broken or a piece could be missing to make it move back and forth. Can you please send me a picture of that area what its suppose to look like? When the machine is running, that bar its attached to doesn's really move, is it suppose to move more? I'm glad I ran across your video and blog. Hope I can fix this myself. Thank you much. email:xth101@yahoo.com

  14. I just fixed the problem with the lever by the bobbin race, it was a screw that needed to be tightened. Now the buttonholer and monogrammer will work properly. Yay!!!

  15. Hi Brian, I was just admiring your collection of machines. I too have a "problem" with collecting old new somewhere in between machines. I did however notice in your collection that you seem to favor Necchi machines. I have in my possesion one you might like. It is a Necchi free arm. It has the really cool green box that swings open with all of it's parts and cams, cirular sewing attachment, table that slides on the free arm and the case it all goes back in. I never fell in love with this machine. I personally love Pfaff machines and not the really old heavy ones but the ones from the early nineties. I really want a 7550,7570, or a 1470 family. I tried to love Bernina but it just didnt happen. My current most fav is a 1151 Pfaff, of course this fav is subject to change.( sometimes multiple times in one day ;).

  16. I must have the bug...found a lovely white 77 with every attachment. Sews like a dream..not real quiet. Then I lucked into a singer 201 and a necchi bu nova in one fell swoop. So I have new toys to play with. I would love to convert the necchi to manual as you have done on treddle.

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