Thursday, August 29, 2013

If this is Thursday it must be postcards, 105

 Singer Building, New York City, New York, 1908


As noted in an earlier postcard Thursday, I.C. Lee’s friend, Edward Cheasty, traveled all over buying goods for his Second Avenue Haberdashery store in Seattle.   Cheasty would send postcards to Lee letting him know where he was and that he was “buying novelties for your inspection” at the store.  Postcards were very popular in the early 1900s.  The fact that the Lee’s kept the cards suggests that since they got lots of postcards from various friends, they were probably more interested in the cards and where they came from than in the message in the case of Cheasty’s.   

There are a couple of interesting things about this card.  First, although it does have a divided back with a space for a message, Cheasty has written his message on the picture side of the card, as was the rule up until 1907, and spread the address across the dividing line on the reverse.  The date of the cancellation is February 21, 1908.  This was the first year that divided back postcards were in use, which may explain why he wrote on the front side. 

Second, the picture shows the Singer building in New York City, New York.  The building was completed in 1908 and with 47 stories it was the tallest building in the world that year.  The head of the Singer Sewing Machine Company, Frederick Bourne, commissioned the building with Ernest Flagg as architect.  The description of the main lobby sounds very grand with a “celestial radiance.”  It had a “forest of marble columns” rising to small domes of delicate plasterwork.  There were large bronze medallions at the top of the columns with the Singer monogram—needle, thread and bobbin.  Unfortunately, the building failed to get recognition by the Landmarks Preservation Commission and was demolished in 1967/68.  It was the tallest building ever to be destroyed until the collapse of the World Trade Center in 2001. 

Singer monogram -- needle, thread and bobbin
[Note:  the thread forms the letter "S"]

The Rotograph Company of New York City that produced postcards between 1904 and 1911 is listed as the publisher.  During those years the company produced approximately 60,000 postcards.  The parent company for Rotograph was German and the printing of the postcards was done in Germany.  Besides the United States this company distributed cards in Germany, Italy and England.

Child's toy sewing machine

Singer was the premier name in sewing machines during the early 1900s.  This little clamp on the table sewing machine is a child’s toy dating from about 1920, does not have a bobbin, but produces slipstitches and was actually used by Anna Hornnes Schroder to make clothing.  Like many new immigrants, Anna, worked for a time in the garment industry in New York after she arrived from Norway.   She continued to make her own clothing and that of her children long after she stopped working as a seamstress.  Anna had an earlier sewing machine, dated about 1910, I think, but it was not kept.  In 1920 she bought the small toy sewing machine for her daughter, Betty, and in 1926 they bought a new sewing machine for Anna. 

1926 Singer Sewing machine

Oral history for the Schroder family includes stories about Axel’s mother, Hansine Schroder, bringing enough woolen material with her from Denmark that Anna was able to make clothes for both her children for many years.  The sewing machine from 1926 is still in the family but the case was damaged in a fire and because the machine has not been used since Betty passed away it not known if it is still operational.  Dating the sewing machine was possible by using the serial number and the Singer Company web site that lists the numbers and corresponding years of production.  Singer did produce a "Featherweight" sewing machine that was portable but if this one is supposed to be featherweight it certainly is not--it is made of metal and very heavy! 

The front plate is silver colored and has an intricate design.

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