Tag Archives: Singer Drawing Room Cabinet

Vintage Singer cabinets, treadle bases – and 1929 UK prices


Hurrah!  I finally got the scanner working properly again and Elsie’s just found the 1929 Singer Illustrated Price List after I put it back in the wrong place in The Sewing Room, so here we go with a look at some of it.  By the way, when Singer said “List Price” they meant the total price when bought on “Singer Easy Terms”, and “Net Cash Price” is what it cost when paying with folding money.

That’s the later and final version of the 1900 Drawing Room Cabinet (the one that Elsie got for her birthday which I posted a snap of the other week).  We’ve also just got one of these from 1920, but more of that anon.  All we need now is some artistic furniture for it to harmonise with.

Just to give you some idea of how expensive these things were in 1929, if we take for example the 66K in a 5-drawer priced at £18/10/0 on HP or £14/16/0 for cash and base the calculation on average earnings, according to measuringworth.com the equivalent cost today is £3530 on HP and £2820 for cash!  In other words, something like twice the cost of a really good bicycle, which actually sounds about right to us.

Picture of Singer 201K in 7-drawer cabinet table (treadle base)

While we’re on the subject of cabinet tables, here’s a snap of Elsie’s 7-drawer, which currently lives in a corner of the front room with her 1940 201K in it.  I’m not sure what the original machine was, on account of the lady who sold us the treadle base had sold the head for a fiver to “a woman who advertised a couple of years back wanting old sewing machines to go in shop window displays”.  A pox on All Saints!

In case you’re wondering, the wire that’s plugged into that socket goes to a Singerlight which you can’t see on the back of the machine, that recess is exactly 48 inches wide, and yes the belt is a bit loud but that’s ‘cos it’s a brand new one I put on last week.  It’ll soon quieten down.

That’s the 1929 incarnation of the Victorian treadle machine i.e. the coffin-top one.  Until we acquired this price list, I always thought that when they introduced the fold-down treadle machines they discontinued the “put the lid on it” ones, but obviously not.  OK, it was a cheaper alternative to a 3-drawer cabinet table, but surely it must have seemed a bit old-fashioned?

Love the way you could get a free home trial or rent one by the week, but most of all I just love that footstool carefully placed to show off the lid …

Ahah!  So if you’ve got an electric portable, you put the lid on a pouffé!  Either that or it’s a couple of spare wheelbarrow tyres.  Whatever, note that these are electrics with knee-lever control (as opposed to foot pedal).

I don’t know if these tables were popular at the time, but I do know that you don’t see many of them nowadays.

This is a new one on me, and I wonder why there’s no model number?  Anyhow, as I understand it, you drop your portable electric still in its base into a big recess on the top of the table, and presumably the knee-lever attaches via a hole in the front of the table.  Seems a bit pointless to me, because surely the only advantage over just plonking your portable on the kitchen table is that the bed of the machine is now flush with the table top?  And against that you’ve got a table which can’t be used for anything else because when you’re not using the machine, you put the lid over it.

It seems a poor thing compared to that cabinet table which used to be available with the recess into which you dropped your hand-crank portable (still in its base) to turn it into a treadle machine.  And if you’re wondering how on earth that worked, the answer is that at the time, some of the portable bases had two big holes in them under the handwheel, with a slot between.  Drop your machine into the cabinet table, run a treadle belt down through one hole, round the treadle wheel, back up through the other hole and over the pulley, trim and join belt in the usual way and flick the “finger” of the hand crank out from between the handwheel spokes.  Bingo – your hand crank portable is now a treadle machine. (And having faffed with the belt like that to get it in place and the right length , it’s all set up so you don’t need to repeat the performance.)

To revert to hand-crank portable, you just slip the belt off treadle wheel then lift it clear of handwheel.  Lift the machine out of the recess, the belt slips through the slot between the two holes, and off you go, pausing only to grab the lid from off that matching footstool,  When it’s treadle time again, you just reverse the process.

Anyhow, that’s the main part of the 1929 price list, and I’ll do the 1940’s one before much longer, courtesy of Colette …

Singer 201K treadle, Elsie’s birthday present … and augmented reality


Picture of Singer drawing room cabinet

Hurrah!  Yesterday we finally got a lovely classic Singer 201K ready for sale as a treadle machine, and this morning we realised that we could offer it in a choice of bases!  It’s now listed on the Singers for sale page in both forms, so if  you could fancy a really good treadle machine, do get in touch with us to find out more about this one and the options for it.

Also on the treadle front, here’s a snap of Elsie’s birthday present having an urgent bit of first-aid done to a lifting bit of veneer on its first morning in its new home.  It’s a 1900 Singer Drawing Room Cabinet that’s totally original down to the little patterned carpet on the treadle plate and the 27K which we took out to get it all home safely.  All that’s missing is the knob for the latch which in theory holds the lid closed but in practice serves no purpose we can think of, and the 27K’s belt guard.  And with any luck, an exact replacement for that will soon be on its way from Jay and Sharron in Missouri.

I’ll take some more snaps and do a blog post all about it when we’ve got it a bit more sorted , but for now I’ll just say that Elsie agrees it was well worth the 376 miles drive on her birthday.

Anyhow … every now and then I have to go to Waitrose on account of there’s a few things we use which Tesco doesn’t stock, and when I do, I always pick up a copy of their house newspaper thing.  It amuses us no end, and gives us some idea of what’s currently exciting the chattering classes.

We’ve just now read about “the revolutionary Christmas adverts that open up a magical world of tricks and tips from Delia and Heston” and we’re trying to get our heads round that.  If we understand correctly, you wait for a television commercial, then pause it, show it to your smart phone, then have an “augmented reality experience”.


We don’t have a television set, neither of us understands how you can pause a television program, we both have dumb phones, and although I can’t speak for Elsie, I can say for sure that the last augmented reality experience I had was a good 40 years ago and involved dried mushrooms.

There’s no hope for us.

Have a good weekend, folks.