Sewing Machine Research
ISMACS International
International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society

Kimball & Morton's Pride

by Erin Jones
ISMACS News 99
July 2010

Dispatched by a caring mother (caring about sewing machines, that is) Erin Jones, daughter of ISMACS' Secretary and Membership Secretary, made the pilgrimage to view…

Kimball and Morton Lion Sewing Machine with Feet in Place

With front feet in place.

Okay, so you guys know what it is, and know far more about it than we ever will, but Sarah and I visited the Kimball and Morton lion machine at Bonhams, in the Fine Mechanical Music and Scientific Instruments sale, before it was placed in the auction.

We'd been informed before we went that there would be a wine and canapés reception 'for the punters', which was a major draw. Never ones to turn down free drink, we absorbed the information kindly provided by Lawrence Fisher of Bonhams, having been presented with the lion's 'feet' on our arrival. These had been kept in a locked cupboard due to their removability, together with a photocopy of the front page of the second generation lion's brochure which had been found in the drawer of the machine.

Kimball and Morton Lion Sewing Machine Treadle Base

38 1⁄2in. (98cm) high, width 27in. (69cm), depth 16in.(4/cm), the lion's length is 14in. (36cm).

On inspection of this document we surmised that the artistic merit of the earlier machine far surpassed that of the second model and we both agreed that we would prefer to own the first generation machine if we were ever to buy one.

I didn't think that it was the prettiest machine I had ever seen - I am not a connoisseuse - however, it certainly was one of the more unusual. The machine appeared as if it were a Vogue model, proudly standing on a dais inside the door of the viewing room, allowing us to photograph it from every conceivable angle.

Kimball and Morton Lion Sewing Machine Registration Mark

Registration Mark for 28th December, 1868.

Lawrence, meanwhile, had progressed around the room, winding up every barrel organ, symphonium and music playing object and letting them play; whether they had been tuned or not. We finished our wine while investigating the rest of the lots, which included automatons, glass wasp traps and electric corsets(?); the highlight being the brief vision of an oiseau chantant doing its thing before disappearing under the flap. A very weird mixture of stuff, indeed.

Then we went over to Harrods where the staff were officious and overbearing. And almost wished we were back in Bonham's listening to the barely tuned barrel organs.

Erin Jones

Gilded Mahogany Kimball and Morton Lion Sewing Machine

"An important Kimball & Morton gilded cast iron and mahogany 'Lion', treadle, lock-stitch sewing machine. Estimate: UK£20,000–30,000"