Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Mystery of the Dragon Singer

Thanks to two vintage sewing machine bulletin boards and some email chatting, we have contributions this week from two guest bloggers.

Photo by Bobbie Krueger
I  recently met Bobbie Krueger online and we chatted about our vintage sewing machines.  She mentioned that she had a Singer with dragon decals

The general consensus of opinion on the vintage Singers board was that it was a fake, not a real Singer.  Take a close look at the photo above.  What looks fake?  What looks real?  What do YOU think?  

(a pause while we all hum the theme from Jeopardy and study the photo in detail)
Here's what I came up with the first time I saw it:
Ignoring the decals, it looks at first glance like a Singer 127.  The throat plates, that odd little access port on the top right, the high mounted bobbin winder all look just like my 127.  But is that a stitch length lever I see?  With a REVERSE?  My 127 has nothing like that.

The great thing about internet communities is that there are plenty of people who know WAY more than I do about vintage sewing machines.   Tamar wrote to me with another opinion:

"There are some unusual decals used on Singers made in India, there are "mystery decals" on various machines known only (to the collector groups anyway) on one machine - at a quick glance, I think the Singer logo decal looks real.  Sometimes people have touched up worn decals, but this is the whole thing.  It would have to have been a serious counterfeiting operation to copy the logo, and if they were doing that, why create new decals that Singer didn't use?  (Nobody in England believed in the platypus until a live one was sent; they claimed the stuffed examples were just clever taxidermy.)"

So I sent her the photos and she took a closer look.
Photo by Bobbie Krueger

Tamar then wrote:
"I've been looking at the photos more carefully.  I now believe that this particular machine was originally a 'normal' Singer 127 (full sized and the bobbin winder is set up high, near the hand wheel), but it has been refinished very carefully to preserve the Singer logo while changing all the rest of the decals.

"Probably sometime during WWII someone refurbished it everywhere except where the original Singer logo was, and then added their own decals, and also added the Revco Reverse that was invented to make old forward-only machines able to reverse.

"In the pictures, you can see the pin-rash where pins scraped the Singer decal,and the way the decals around it don't have as much damage, and also they are a different shade of gold.

"The bright colors are a typical element of Asian sewing machine decoration and the ones I've seen before that are that bright were made in India.

"The extremely long bill on the bird-headed creature makes me think it is based on a stork; except for the snaky tail, I'd say it was a very stylized stork.   It even has feathery wings, unlike most dragons."

In a later email she explained that during WWII the shift to war production meant that home sewing machines were hard to come by, and many older machines were refurbished to meet the demand.

THANKS a million to Bobbie and Tamar for the wonderful romp through sewing machine history.  I enjoyed it immensely and hope all of you did, too.

and if you EVER see a Dragon Singer anywhere, drop me a line.  It needs to be here, at DragonPoodle Studio.

Poodle Singers would also be of interest.


  1. I love the vintage machine boards. They are so informative. I love playing around with vintage machines. I just acquired a New Home Singer clone that is just a dream to sew with. I have decided to make it my "Walking Foot machine" so that I don't have to change out the foot constantly. Have a great day, Jean

  2. Awesome information. Thanks for sharing.

  3. That is one beautiful machine. Thanks for posting this.

  4. I love learning more about beautiful vintage sewing machines!


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