Featured Item: 1879 Singer Sewing Machine

Isn’t she a beauty?!  She’s not in working condition, but she’s just beautiful to look at!

Singer Corporation was first established I.M. Singer & Co. in 1851 by Isaac Merritt Singer. (although the first patent to design a sewing machine was obtained by English inventor Thomas Saint in 1790, and the first sewing machine was developed in 1807 by an Australian tailor, Josef Madersperger) .  It was renamed Singer Manufacturing Company in 1865, then The Singer Company in 1963.  Singer has an interesting organized labor episode from 1911, which you can read about here.   Like the United States Shoe Corporation, Singer began diversifying in the 1960s, acquiring companies involved in electronics as well as ….nuclear power plant control center simulators.  Huh!

But let’s get back to business.  This Singer sewing machine was manufactured on August 21, 1879, in Clydebank, Scotland.   How do I know this, you may ask?  Well, it appears that Singer was/is very meticulous about keeping records, even back in the late 1800s, so they still have logs with all of this information as long as you can provide a serial number.  Singer sewing machines manufactured prior to 1900 were given serial numbers with numbers only; after 1900, serial numbers incorporated a single or two-letter prefix (which indicated the manufacturing location).

This specific sewing machine is an “Improved Family” machine.  It was considered a breakthrough “because of its oscillating shuttle” and a high arm, although it was overshadowed the following year by a model that included an Edison electric motor.

AND, you can still buy the manual!



Featured Item: Red Cross Shoes

I’ve come across pretty interesting items in our little shop, and decided I wanted to know a little more about some of these.  So I’m dedicating a section of this blog to “Featured Items.”  Featured Items will be those that I can find some information about online, information I deem to be awesome and interesting 🙂

My first pick is a pair of Red Cross Shoes.

They are quite beautiful, aren’t they?

Don’t let the name fool you though, Red Cross Shoes has no affiliation to THE Red Cross.  Red Cross Shoes were first produced by Krohn-Fechheimer Shoe Company in Cincinnati, circa 1896.  Red Cross Shoe became a hot selling brand, maybe due to Mad Men savvy advertising it as the “noiseless” shoe.  The company had to adjust after World War I, when high-topped shoes started going out of style.  A six month strike in the Cincinnati shoe industry in 1921 made these adjustments difficult to make. Due to these difficult times, eight different shoe companies, including Red Cross Shoes, merged together to form the United States Shoe Corporation in 1931.  One marketing technique to revive the failing shoe market was to produce a $6 pair of Red Cross Shoes, that previously sold for $10.  Demand soared, and by 1939 Red Cross was the most popular shoe brand in the United States.

Red Cross expanded to the international market throughout the 1940s, and for a brief period of time voluntarily stopped using “Red Cross” due to complaints from the American Red Cross.  It took back it’s name in 1948 with the blessing of the Federal Trade Commission.

Red Cross continued to grow throughout the years, reaching production levels of 100,000 pairs of shoes a week in 1955.

United States Shoe Corporation began to diversity in 1955, with it’s biggest success lying in Lens Crafters.  By the 1980s, shoe sales accounted for only one-third of the company’s sales.  The company continued with ups and downs, but according the source of this information, it seems that it’s still chugging along. If anyone has recent information about the brand, this specific shoe or the shoe company, I’d love to read up on it!

Anniversary Collection Postcard

Main source of information: I read it on the internet, it must be true!