Queen Victoria Singer 27K Give Away
fig 1 The "Diamond Jubilee" machine on its stand

The Great Singer Giveaway

By Martin Gregory

As you climb the stairs up to Ray Rushton's London Sewing Machine Museum you pass a rather special Singer 27K on its treadle stand (Figure 1) surrounded by all the relevant paper work. Here is its story.

Queen Victoria celebrated her Diamond Jubilee of 60 years on the throne, in 1897. Many British companies produced commemorative wares to celebrate the event and one of those companies was the Singer Manufacturing Company. The Singer Company gave away 100 specially decorated 27K . These special machines, valued at 10 guineas (£10.50) each, were advertised in the press and magazines (Figures 2 & 3).

Competition for the machines was good advertising and was expected to generate many tens of thousands of entries.

Give-Away Flyer fig 2 Flyer for the 100 machines

Singer Give-Away Newspaper Ad fig 3 Newspaper advertisement soliciting letters applying for the machines

Queen Victoria Singer 27K Treadle Head

A complicated system of rules was set up to select the winners (Figure 4); no lottery balls or computer random number generators then. Applicants had to write in to the London head office and could, presumably, enter each week for 12 weeks beginning the 29 th March 1897.

Singer Give-Away Rulesfig 4 Rules for selecting the lucky applicants

The entries for each week would be numbered in order of receipt and, at the end of the week, 5 machines would be allocated to those entries with 5 predetermined numbers given in the rules. At the end of the 12 week period, with 60 machines given away, the remaining 40 machines would be allocated amongst the applicants according to another formula. The results of each week's draw were displayed in the Singer shops.

Queen Victoria Singer Treadle Decal Closeup

Queen Victoria on bed of Singer Sewing Machinefig 5 The picture of Queen Victoria in the centre of the base Color Detail of the Bed of the Queen Victoria Treadle

The machines themselves were given special decorative decals for the occasion (Figure 5) featuring a portrait of Queen Victoria, her monogram VR, and the dates of her reign, 1837 -1897 for the Jubilee. The stand was also polished and fitted with better quality brass handles.

Certificate fig 6 Certificate awarding the machine to Miss Emma Green

Queen Victoria Treadle Give Away Certificate

Ray's machine, number 13981940, was allocated to Miss Emma Green of 25 West Square, London SE, who was duly awarded the machine and given a nice framed certificate (Figure 6). Emma Green is not such an unusual name that there would be no other "Miss Emma Greens" entering the competition and watching each week in the window of their local Singer shop. One such Emma Green, from Birkdale, Liverpool, saw her name on the list in her Singer shop and wrote (Figure 7) to Miss Emma Green of West Square, London SE to see if there had been some mistake. Nice try, but presumably it did not work!

Letter to Miss Greenfig 7 Letter from Miss Green of Liverpool to Miss Green of London

ISMACS is an organization totally independent of all sewing-machine manufacturers, past or present and is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in these pages.  Please Note: Do not contact any ISMACS official in an attempt to solicit a valuation - it is not possible other than by hands-on assessment and your request will be ignored.