My father-in-law found an old treadle sewing machine lying beside a skip in Edinburgh, and knowing that I liked these things, phoned me to tell me about it. It was a pretty sorry looking object, but after rescuing it and bringing it home, I discovered this 1929 catalogue in the drawer of the table. To anyone who collects things, a catalogue is like catnip. A world of future collecting opened up in front of me as I studied the pages.
I settled on looking for a Singer 99k and posted a request on Gumtree for a working model. I was clear that I wasn't looking for a pristine example, and that I wanted to use it, not look at it.
A woman from Clydebank responded and offered me a machine for £20. When I went through (one goes through to Glasgow) I knew I had to have it. She was surprised to learn that it had been made a couple of miles from her house. You can see the factory on the inside back cover of the catalogue.
Although the prices in the catalogue are nearly twenty years later than they would have been at the start of the novel, the principles were the same. Machines were bought from the Singer Shop and a payment plan was set up. This was groundbreaking for the time and enabled millions of households world-wide to have a domestic sewing machine in the home.
I send out an occasional newsletter. You can subscribe by clicking here. Thank you.