James Moffat · Nothmann · Singer · Vibrating shuttle · White

Two paperclips, an in-betweener, a pique and a sleeping beauty

Yep, they are like busses – always arriving together. But five “new” sewing machines turning up within two weeks, that’s a record! 😳

The interloper

After I talked myself into “needing” an old refurbished Singer 27K “Paperclip”, I accidentally got two instead of one. 😮 The first one is now known as The Interloper: it is not a 27K but a 28K! I never wanted a 28 because they are smaller, and I was specifically looking for a 27 (and not a 127), and I was sure I could spot a 27 from a 28 just from the silhouette… Well, obviously I couldn’t, because when this 1889 Interloper turned up, it was a 28. I checked the listing – yes, clearly a 28. What was I thinking??? 🙂

But actually I think that The Interloper was crying for help – they can tune into your brainwaves, you know, that’s how we end up with so many of them, just like cats. So this 28K was very well packed, with shrink wrap and all, but unfortunately a drop of water got into it during wrapping, so the base now turned into a flower basket for all sorts of mold, and there was flush rust on most surfaces. 😦

And also they knocked it at some point and the presser bar snapped at the foot fitting screw. Not a big deal all of it really – I got a partial refund from the seller and I already had the presser bar from some bag of metal bits that I had bought previously for something that was among them. The bobbin winder was scruffy so I stripped it to bare metal, hubby made a new bottom for the base, and here she is, all fixed:

1889 Singer 28K, serial number 9409732, refurbished in 1950s, fixed up in 2018

The shiny Paperclip

So, having so horribly miscalculated, I obviously had to get a proper model 27 Paperclip – the one from the previous post.

The serial number R196470 says 1902 but marked “R” in notes column in the ISMACS table, no idea what that means. Asked on the mailing list but no reply yet – people must be on holiday. The insides of this Paperclip are brand new (well, were brand new in 1950 when the original owner bought it – and she believed she bought it new).

I’ve seen refurbishments before – and there’s one 1889 28K on my table right now 😉 – they would replace some parts but not quite the whole thing, surely. Very strange all this. But the machine runs absolutely beautifully, so they’ve done a good job, and Ruth who is now nearly 90, is happy that her machine is gone to a good home.

1902 Singer 27K, serial number R196470, refurbished in 1950s

By the way, this 27K Paperclip is not japanned – it’s enamel straight on bare cast iron, which makes me wonder whether may be the body was made in 1902 and put into storage until 1950 when it was fleshed out with the insides? May be “R” stands for “Reserve”? But why? Hmm. 🙂

The in-betweener

There was not much work with either of the Paperclips – just a bit of tidying up, really, and I felt the need to get a rust bucket again. There is a strange joy and satisfaction in seeing a lovely old machine emerge from the rust and grime of storage and neglect. And so I got this:

An in-betweener – White Vibrating Shuttle model 2b. What? Yeah, I know. 🙂 Only produced for three years – between 1889 and 1892, according to Wikipedia. Awfully rusty and with a plaster on the bobbin winder but complete and even moving! The delivery driver dropped it though, so a corner of the bed broke off – cast iron is so fragile.

Top right corner of the bed got broken off when the delivery driver dropped the parcel. But I’ve got special glue for it already. 🙂 

But nothing got damaged structurally, and this bit can be repaired with some epoxy glue and a strip from underneath. It was very well packed!

1889-1892 White VS-2b – where is the serial number?

I looked everywhere but can’t find a serial number on it. Perhaps it will appear after cleaning? Very odd not to have one. 😮

A pique

As soon as I paid for the White, I saw another marvel appearing on eBay:

This is a pique machine for glove making – it’s a James Moffat’s copy of Singer 46K1. Rusty but this too is complete and moving! 😀

Just couldn’t resist the curious mechanism. 🙂

Reminds me of Dali’s long legged animals:

Salvador Dalí. Temptation of St. Anthony

Temptation, indeed! 😉

A sleeping beauty

And while I was busy getting those two diamonds in the rough, I had placed a bid on a Brothers Nothmann transverse shuttle machine with some remarkable features.

Brother Nothmann High Arm TS, serial number 319923.

And I am not even talking about hand-finished decals without a cherub in site, although they are breathtaking:

This machine is based on Singer 12 but it has a most unusual flywheel: a Saxonia style geared hand-crank plus a regular balance wheel with a groove for a treadle belt (or a motor belt!).

If you didn’t want the hand-crank, you would just remove the handle leaving the gears in place.

Another surprise was to find this machine taking modern 15×1 needles! Somebody did a great job on that conversion.

Now for dating. Not entirely clear but it must be early 1900s. Brothers Nothmann firm operated between 1878 and 1909, and when I searched for Ivey & Leighton in Plymouth, I found an ad for sewing machines priced £2-18-8 with case and cover, published in the Dorset Advertiser on 13 March 1909. And then again, going by the serial number and a little info that I found on the internet, this beauty probably dates to around 1905. Yes, I think I’ll go with that. 🙂

This machine requires no work either – it was well oiled, although dusty. Looks like it’s been on display and the previous owners took care to preserve it. Quite gunked up, so a change of oil is all that’s needed here.

Mine was the only bid! Collectors must be on holidays. 😀

15 thoughts on “Two paperclips, an in-betweener, a pique and a sleeping beauty

  1. Elena,
    You are good at finding interesting and unusual machines, I like the look of that Brother Nothmann – lovely – and practical too with 15×1 needles You’ll be needing to turn your creativity to how to store a large sewing machine collection now unless you can thin some out pretty soon!
    Dan H

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, thank you – but I only scratch the surface. (Although I try to leave deep scratches. 🙂 ) The people with the real knowledge are the members of ISMACS – I always ask them for help.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. I’m pretty sure your 28K is actually a VS3 (so would probably be dated no later than 1893) although I don’t know if there are any differences apart from the raised area around the spool pin.


    1. The feed dogs are different, but they also look new, so they may have been put in during the refurbishment. Otherwise it is identical to 28K in its current state. It dates to 1889 based on the serial number.


  3. I love that glovemaking machine!

    I was searching for info about how to refurbish a treadle table I just bought at an auction… the wooden surfaces are covered with powdery mold just like the sewing machine case in this article… do you know a good way to remove it that won’t hurt the wood finish?


    1. I’m afraid I don’t. 😦 My husband is a carpenter, and his professional reaction to that mold was “burn it”. Literally, he said he would never try to refurbish a piece that is so far gone, and that the mold needed to be burned in order to avoid it spreading to other wood. 😯 So we replaced the bits that were damaged.

      But don’t panic. Your mold may not be the same as mine. But I would definitely recommend getting a professional opinion from someone knowledgeable in wood treatments.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. It’s best to be safe. Mold is a fungus, so even when it is completely dry, it can still easily come to life in a drop of water. It can be killed of course, but that often involves chlorine. Mold eats wood fibre which makes the wood brittle, so even if the mold is removed, the wood may not be strong enough anymore. But it all depends! Mostly it depends on how long the wood has been rotting. If it was only a short spell, the mold would not have had enough time to do serious damage, so it might be possible to treat it and clean it up completely. Hard wood is quite resistent. But even hard wood eventually succumbs to mold, especially if it’s been left in a humid place for decades. Use your common sense or ask someone in the know to have a look. 🙂 Good luck!
        It does sound sensible to keep it away from other wooden things in the meantime though. Our moldy bits were deported out of the house literally within 15 minutes of unwrapping them. 😮


  4. Elena, the serial number on the White VS machine should be on the upper slide plate. If the serial number is not there then this is a replacement slide plate. Rust has probably obscured the number but cleaning should bring it up again.

    The bigger question is which shuttle is in the machine? The shuttle can be
    identified by the spring on the outside of the cylinder. All White shuttles of this period had center pins to hold the bobbins in alignment and all of the shuttles are the same length. White VS shuttles are not interchangeable unless the shuttle carrier is changed out.


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