Hidden Treasures!

Most medium and larger towns in the UK boast municipal museums, and surprisingly a large number of these have rare and desirable sewing machines within. Sadly, a passing visit to many of these establishments yields few or no machines at all.
There are various reasons for this sad state of affairs, lack of display space being the most common cause. To be fair, well-run museums do rotate their exhibits, so if sewing machines are present, they do see the light of day occasionally.

Unfortunately, many curators seem to have a very limited knowledge of sewing machine history. Consequently, should the odd machine be displayed, a common Singer New Family is likely to reach the public gallery, whilst a far rarer and more interesting machine is left languishing in the storeroom.

Some years ago, I visited Doncaster Museum, the hope was that I would find an example of the locally produced rare Hopkinson Brothers machine. Disappointingly, only one sewing machine was displayed, this being a bog standard Willcox & Gibbs. To add insult to injury, it was incorrectly labelled as a Singer. Inquiries of the staff revealed that more machines were in store. After some delicate negotiation, an escorted trip into a vast loft store area resulted.
A number of desirable models were discovered, together with not one, but five Hopkinson machines, all with many years of undisturbed dust on them.

Four of the five Hopkinsons found in a museum loft.
Other museums that contain good examples of locally made machines include Coventry, with a number of Starley creations, and Leeds with several Nussey & Pilling models, together with a Winter machine.
Rare and exotic machines can be found in other major UK cities, such as Glasgow, York, Manchester, Birmingham and London. However most of these collections can only be seen by appointment, these being arranged with individual curators.

Two fine Starley machines on display in Coventry.
The real purpose of these ramblings is to get you out there looking for more hidden treasures. Remember, don't assume there are no machines in your local museum just because there are none on display. If a goodly number of you get back to us with your findings, we will publish a list of the museums which have interesting machines.
July 2004

This fine condition Taylor is probably top billing
at a small South West museum.

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