Wednesday, January 11, 2012


While we were visiting the British and American mosaic quilt exhibit in Lincoln, Nebraska, last week, we also stopped to admire a small display of antique sewing notions and toy sewing machines just outside the gallery (you can see photos of the quilt exhibit in my previous post). This fancy French sewing box is paper-covered and the interior is compartmentalized to accommodate nifty notions like thread and a toy sewing machine.

I'd never seen a nickel-plated cast iron toy sewing machine like this one before. It was made in Berlin, Germany around 1896. The black one behind it was made during World War II in Nuremberg, Germany. What a lovely little thing to be made during such dark times.

I love the decals on these two little black beauties. The one in the foreground is a Muller Model #20 from pre-World War II Germany. I forgot to copy down the info on the one in back!

I was especially enchanted by this little child's machine in a velvet-lined case. It is another Muller model and dates to 1900 Germany. What a lucky child to have been gifted that machine!

And this tiny pre-World War II treasure was marketed as the smallest sewing machine in the world in pre-World War II Germany. It's aptly named the  "Liliputian".

I loved these fanciful Black Forest bear thread stands and thimble holders from Germany. In the lower right, you can see a small silver seam knife and dagger scissors in a brass sheath, made circa 1850.

The exhibit also featured some nifty American-made notions and this sweet little sewing machine. Made by Foley & Williams, the "Reliable" was marketed for light sewing, travel, and children. According to the exhibit card, the first models sold in Montgomery Ward catalogs for $3.50-$5. I've often thought it would be fun to travel back in time to an old 19th-century or turn-of-the-20th century general store, buy a bunch of treasures, and travel back to the current day to enjoy them! 

This little brass machine was labeled "Tabitha"—the same name as my sewing machine, Tabitha the treadle. If you're interested, you can see my Tabitha in this post. This little Tabitha was manufactured in 1885 in New York City.

And here are various American-made sewing notions—needle books, thimble holders, pincushions, tape measures, and pin disks—all from one woman's collection.

These notions all hail from the United Kingdom. Do you see the thimble holders in the shape of a goat cart, a brass shoe, and Jack and Jill figures with their water pail? There were also some lovely thread winders, pincushions, and emeries.

I love the bunny and roller skate tape measures in this photo. Do you see the needle case in the shape of a parasol? The designs are all so clever!

I hope you'll come back later this week to see the nifty little notion I found while exploring the local antiques shops.


  1. What a beautiful collection they have! Wonderful!

    A while back, I saw a machine similar to the 'Reliable' one on Ebay, but it went for more than my budget would allow......darn!

    Thanks for sharing these wonderful collections.

  2. Beautiful! I love the hand-cranks. The quilt shop where I have my Wooly Wednesdays class and one that will be featured in the Quilt Sampler in May has a hand-crank gathering. The owner of the shop is a huge fan of them.

    These are just so gorgeous and I really love the sewing box!
    Thank you for sharing these beauties with us today.

  3. What a wonderful post!!!! OMG! I love little tiny sewing machines! And the other pieces as well. Wow! Thank you for the treat!

  4. Oh these are just awesome! How fun it must have been to see them in person. I love that little goat!

  5. Loved seeing the pics of the toy sewing machines. When I go through antique shops I've been keeping an eye out for one for myself.

    1. I have a Muller Model #20 cast iron toy sewing machine circa 1900. I had it appraised last week at $300.00. But, could go for $500 at auction. It is in very good condition, as it has very good gold gilding, serial number on the plate, and says "Made in Germany". I live in Bremer Co. of N.E. Iowa.

  6. I love these, they are so hard to find and sew expensive. Richard from My old Historic House.

  7. Oh, these are all wonderful! I love old sewing notions.

  8. Discovered your blog via The Civil War Quilter, and enjoyed your post today. The sewing machines and tools are ornate and fascinating. I love this little glimpse into another time, and I will look forward to following your blog this year. Pam

  9. Wow! A lovely posting. The toy/miniature sewing machines are so sweet Thanks for all the photos and info.

  10. I always keep my eyes open for antique sewing notions, but have yet to run across any. Cannot wait to see what you found. I noticed both cases were pink!

  11. Aren't all the little machines just gorgeous! Thanks for showing us.

  12. Thanks Kimber for all the great pictures and stories about your trip! I've always wanted to visit there some day.

  13. Thanks for the peek at all these treasures!

  14. How thrilling it must have been to see all these things!! The tiny sewing machines are so cute!

  15. What a great post - the little sewing machines are so cute - I actually bought a few of them last year. And so many unique notions. Can't wait to see what else you found.

  16. What a fun post! I collected several children sewing machines while living in the UK and Germany. I need to unpack them and put them on display again...thanks for the reminder!


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