Many collectors of sewing machines also collect other items associated with sewing machines – oil cans, oil bottles, Singer puzzle boxes or sometimes almost anything connected
with Singer. (We have three Singer stools in our house, but that’s another story).
However, I felt I had to show the Pfaff Zwerge or dwarf tin which is quite well known and very collectable. It dates from about 1906 and must be the only tin with the artist’s
signature on the front.
Two interesting and attractive tins came from Biesolt & Locke who started making sewing machines in 1869 in Meissen and in 1893 made the Afrana rotary. Eventually all their
machines were called Afrana and Seidel & Naumann continued with the name after buying up the rights in 1918. The odd thing is that both the Biesolt & Locke and the Afrana tins
have mirrors on the inside of the lid. Why? Perhaps it was to reflect the gaslight and help the search for a small attachment or needle? Anyway it didn’t seem to catch on.
Many tins have lithographed pictures of the company’s factory on them, sometimes in monochrome on the inside of the lid, or in colour on the outside as with the Original Victoria,
from Mundlos of Magdeburg.
There is considerable detail in these drawings if they are enlarged.
One other group of tins that are attractive and collectable are known as ‘handbag’ ‘casket’, or ‘Kästchen’ tins. These were for the Original Victoria, from Mundlos of Magdeburg
and for Seidel & Naumann machines from Dresden.
There are several different versions of these and also French and Italian versions as well as German. I know of at least one more version of the Original Victoria that I don’t
Some dates can be estimated by medals shown on the tins. Although, like patent dates on sewing machine plates, the dates will only indicate that the tin must have been produced
after the latest date shown, it would be reasonable to assume that it would not have continued to be made much later than the date of other awards shown on other tins.
e.g., one Original Victoria tin shows off “Goldene Medaillen” won at Tasmania and Lubeck in 1892 and 1895; another shows these plus awards from Petersburg and Magdeburg in 1904
and a third lists these awards together with others dated 1905.