The Museum has several machines, but the only one that appears to be in working order is an 1870's Wheeler & Wilson. I don't want to risk moving it around and using it outdoors at a community festival. Way too much risk of damage!
So, on a whim I checked out Craig's List for a treadle machine this past week. And I found "Peggy." She runs like a charm, and as soon as I can get some practice in I think we'll make a great demonstration team.
|Her Damascus badge and decals are very worn, |
but she runs smoothly and sews a nice seam.
She's a Damascus Vibrating Shuttle Treadle sewing machine sold by Montgomery Ward. I've been trying to find out more about the machine, but very little is available. It seems that "Damascus" was a badge name put on a National Sewing Machine 'Eldredge' model made specifically to be sold by Montgomery Ward.
Her serial number under the bobbin cover is 2901079 with the letter Z stamped above the serial number. Unfortunately, it looks like nobody kept a listing of serial numbers and dates for the National Sewing Machines. The machine belonged to the seller's grandmother, Peggy, and they thought it was made around 1902. Without a doubt I had to name her after Peggy, don't you think?
There might be some clues in the manual that came with her. First, there is no copyright date. This might indicate that it was made before copyright dates were printed on the manuals. I found a manual on line with a copyright date of 1925. From the photos in that manual, I can see it is clearly a newer model machine version than mine, so I will conclude for now that "Peggy" was made before that year. Montgomery Ward was an Eldredge customer as early as 1889 for badged machines. The chain lift technology for the cabinet was patented in 1902-1909, so that gives me an earliest possible date.
A second clue is a number in the top left corner of the manual cover. 10M-2-23-Irwin So, maybe it was made as recently as 1923. So, for now I have about a 20 year age range: 1902 - 1923.
There are a few people who have on line conversation threads about Damascus machines, but the conversations I have found are three to ten years old. In fact, some of the sites haven't been updated or posted in years and many of the links don't work. I doubt they are still checking or involved in those web sites after all this time. (Maybe there is hope that what we put on the internet won't last forever after all!)