Graham's True Stories
Number 10, 800 Pound Sewing Machine
Most collectable sewing machines are offered to us by middle-aged or even elderly folk, so it came as something of a surprise when a young lad - perhaps 18 - arrived with an 1888 Starley machine which he wanted to sell. He also made it clear that unless he could get 800 English pounds for it, there would be no deal.
Now, Starley was one of the early manufacturers (he went on to invent the safety cycle) and 800 pounds, about $1300, was not out of order. The lad explained that the machine had been given to him by his grandmother. He looked honest enough, but I checked his ID and noted his name and address, just in case there would be any question over title later on.
The phone call came the very next day. It was from the lad's father. Seems that the machine had indeed been given to the boy, but on the strict understanding that it wasn't to be sold. Dad then revealed that his son had been after buying (against the family's wishes) a motorcycle priced at exactly 800 pounds.
I immediately offered to let the family have the machine back, but the father would have none of this. "No," he said. "A deal is a deal and I think that the price was fair.
"But I'll tell you one thing", he added, "He's still not getting that motorcycle"!