Ray's Charm & Platform
ISMACS News 106
Ray Rushton is every sewing machine collector's dream with a warehouse full of surprises. You can ask for the most obscure old parts, needles or rare bobbins and, like A.A. Milne's Jonathon Jo, "… he's got it, whatever the size is." Well, almost; but he hasn't disappointed me yet.
Above Ray's warehouse-sized shop, opposite Tooting Bec Underground station, is the London Sewing Machine Museum, where nearly a thousand beautifully preserved SM exhibits are on public display, on the first Saturday of every month (2-4 p.m.) Entrance is free but a Royal Lifeboats' charity box is always within reach.
His latest acquisition - this fine, heavily decorated Ward's Arm & Platform, is typical of quality of the exhibits. The machine can convert from a flat-bed to a free-arm.
Edward Ward 'manufactured' sewing machines from the 1860s to the 1880s. The model he is remembered for is this 'Arm & Platform' which he developed from his patent of April 1873. It is a very neat solution to making a machine which can operate in both flat bed and free-arm forms, by lowering the floating arm surround.
It was in production from 1875 to c.1890 when it was being marketed by Sellers & Allen. Most of his other machines were industrials for the boot and shoe trade. The only other domestic machines in his list were two simple, cheap, chain stitch machines of designs which appeared in other lists and may have been bought in. JL/MG (Photos Lin & Rod Jones)