Singer Sewhandy Model 40K
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Singer Sewhandy Model 40K Sewing Machine, size: 6.2 MB
Singer Sewhandy Model 40K
User reviews and opinions
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Toy Sewing Machines, Frustration or Fun?
During the dark days of World War 11 it was impossible to buy new toys. In some countries it was illegal to sell toys, but in 1945 all that was to change. Part two traces the boom years from 1945 to 1970
Text by Brenda Dean, photographs* by Peter Dean
In 1945 most of Europe was in tatters. Countries were anxious to rebuild and revive their industries and to produce goods for export. Germany in particular needed help and the Allied Countries, Britain, France, The Soviet Union and the USA came to their rescue. developed a huge market in the US for these toys. All Muller machines sold in America were labelled KAYanEE Sew Master and were stamped Berlin, Made in Germany, USZone. Muller TSMs marketed outside America were labelled Regina. Some were battery operated and included a foot pedal and light. *In June 1948 the Soviets, who controlled the area around Berlin, cut every access road into the city. For the next 334 days everything had to be transported into Berlin by air. The Casige factory was in the British zone and their post war TSMs were stamped Casige, Made in Germany, British Zone. They too used pre-war parts and finished some machines in plain bright colours. The new models were more durable and much larger than the earlier pre-war models.
Muller and Casige both stamped the stitch plates to show the manufacturing zone Britain, like the rest of Europe, took time to recover from the war but government grants and a growing economy provided an opportunity for new manufacturers to enter the market. The post-war baby boom led to an increase in toy sales, including TSMs, and some new names appeared on the scene. Companies such as Comet, Palitoy, Straco and Vulcan began making toy machines. Straco originally sold Casige toys under its own name before establishing a new factory in England. The Straco Little Betty came in a variety of sizes from tiny tin plate models to the larger metal and plastic variety.
KAYanEE Sew Master, made by Muller for the KAYanEE Corporation, New York. 1955.
Germany, including Berlin, was divided into four occupied zones, each controlled by one of the four allies. The two main German Toy Sewing Machine (TSM) manufacturers, Casige and Muller, had factories in Berlin. Both of these factories were still standing at the end of the war and eager to resume production. The Muller factory was in the American Sector and began production of TSMs on 24th October 1945, just in time for Christmas. They had to use pre-war parts since materials were in short supply. The TSMs looked just the same as the 1930s models and it wasnt until after 1949 when the Berlin Blockade* was lifted that new models appeared. The KAYanEE Corporation of America
Casige TSMs made in the British Zone of Germany immediately after World War Two.
In 1940, despite the problems of war, the Tavaro Company of Geneva, Switzerland launched its first full size sewing machine, the Elna 1. In 1950 they introduced the sturdy Elna Junior, a hand cranked scaled model of the original Elna 1. It was bright green, had a free arm facility and was affectionately known as The Grasshopper Some models came with a music box mechanism concealed in the frame and played tunes such as The Blue Danube Waltz. Other sewing machine manufacturers copied the idea of releasing a TSM under their own brand name and it wasnt long before Bernina, Brother and Necchi put their brand name onto toy sewing machines. In 1945 the Japanese faced the enormous task of rebuilding their economy. It was essential for them to establish export markets and they did this by making a wide range of quality consumer goods including toy sewing machines. Crystal, Kraemer, Sewmate and Romance were just some of the many to come out of Japan.
Singers TSMs from the post-war period. Clockwise from top, Red Singer Sewhandy, Italy 1950, Black Singer Sewhandy (Centenary model, Italy) 1951, Singer 40K, Great Britain 1960s. Note the cover of the instruction book with all nationalities represented. In 1957, Vulcan registered a patent for its famous trio of TSMs. The Minor, the Junior and the free arm Senior were all sturdy cast aluminium toys. These models were popular in Australia and Vulcan had distributorships in all the major capital cities. The Singer Sewhandy was developed in the US during the 1930s but the war halted its production in Europe. After the war, Singer set up production lines in Britain and Italy and manufactured this popular toy not only in black but also in beige, green, blue and red. The blue and red models are very rare and much sought after by collectors. The Sewhandy came with a very unusual instruction book. It contained no words, only clever illustrations that could be understood in any language. In the 1960s Singer introduced a very user friendly TSM. It was the Singer Sewhandy 40K. The machine was all metal with a large base that was heavy enough to hold the machine firmly whilst it was being used. The 40K came not only as a traditional hand cranked model but could also be purchased with an electric motor. The Singer factory at Clydebank in Scotland exported millions of these beige coloured toys all over the world. The Peter Pan was the only TSM made in Australia. During the war years it was impossible to import toys and this Singer 20 look alike. Produced in Adelaide, bridged the gap. The Peter Pan was a Singer 20 clone. After updating their product in 1930, Singer sold the tooling for the model 20 to other manufacturers who produced an identical machine under their own name. In addition to the Peter Pan made in Australia, there was an Essex and a Grain made in England, a Lead made in Japan and a Pfaff made in Germany.
A Crystal TSM made in Japan, 1960s. This model carries the name Cragstan Whilst America was heavily involved in the war, the country did not suffer the hardships experienced in Europe and other places. Goods, especially imported items, may have been in short supply but children were still able to have new toys. Local manufacturers made most of these toys, including TSMs. The makers and models are too numerous to list but American Girl, Betsy Ross, Little Mother and Stitch Mistress are just a few.
Australias own Peter Pan, Adelaide 1940
Vulcan trio made by the Morthan Company of Dorset, England, 1957. Clockwise from top, Vulcan Minor, Vulcan Senior with free arm and extension plate and Vulcan Junior. By the 1970s, cheaper Asian-made plastic toys were flooding the market and the demand for American and European toy sewing machines declined. After more than 100 years of production both Casige and Muller closed down. The Singer Company built new factories in Asia and the Clydebank factory in Scotland stood silent.
Holly Hobbie all plastic TSM made in Hong Kong for Durham Industries, 1976 Toy sewing machines are still available today but there appears to be little interest in these once very popular toys. Resources: Toy and Miniature Sewing Machines by Glenda Thomas (Published by Collector Books, Kentucky 1995) German Toy Sewing Machines by Peter Wilhelm (Published by the author in Germany 1988) ISMACS (International Sewing Machine Collectors Society:) www.ismacs.net Sussex Sewing Machines. www.sewalot.com Brenda Dean can be contacted by email: firstname.lastname@example.org All photographs are of machines from my collection.
Betsy Ross made in Chicago, USA, 1949 Children were discovering new toys to play with; working mothers did not have time to sit and sew and sadly many of the manufacturers were forced to close their doors.
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