I just wanted to relate a fun little story about un-branded, generic vintage sewing machines that I learned as a kid growing up in this business. It seems that people often asked my dad, Frank Smyth Senior, about the origin of older un-labeled, unbranded vintage sewing machines. This is the story he would tell them:
Singer Co. had been building generic machines in Japan before WWII because of the cheap labor. (Sound familiar)? When the war came the Japanese pushed all the equipment aside and focused on building products for the war.
After the war ended General MacArthur (yes, the “I shall return” general) was put in command of helping to rebuild war-torn Japan. Since all the cast and dye tooling for building sewing machines was still intact in the factories, he negotiated a contract with Singer to continue the practice of manufacturing generic sewing machines in Japan, but with the strict condition of not using the Singer name! Hence the unbranded, generic, Singer lookalike, generic sewing machine was born.
Under this contract, they made hundreds of thousands of these unbranded generic vintage sewing machines. Most were destined for foreign markets, but large numbers were also sold in the U.S.A. There are still a lot of them around today. I still have one myself that is stamped “Made in Occupied Japan”. There is little or no monetary value to these unbranded, generic vintage sewing machines other then novelty or looks. However, most of them do sew beautifully.
That is the story of generic (Singer looking) Sewing Machines. If anyone has any questions on the value or history of sewing machines give us a call at The House of Sewing and we will be more than happy to fill you in on what we know.
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See you next time,