Back when sewing was a way of domestic life for any woman with a family, sewing machines were a huge deal. The charismatic Isaac Singer sold the idea of sewing machines to women in the mid-19th century, and soon they became household staples.
Trade cards were the name of the game in the same century. They functioned as business cards, but people liked to trade them much like we trade baseball cards today. And sewing machines came with their own handy trading cards.
The art on such cards often surpasses any detail found on business cards today. (This isn’t the only time we’ve written about trading cards – see here for an article on 19th century pinup girl cards.) The cards had nice enough illustrations that they were kept and valued as art or scrapbook material. Business owners loved this, of course; along with art, the cards featured the name and information of the company. In the 1880’s and ’90’s, the availability of four-color lithography made cards especially popular for their added color and design.
Like many trade cards from that century, the illustrations look dated today. They feature scenes where the sewing machine sits in the center of the family, claiming a center spot in the parlor.
Here are some of the prettiest or just downright weirdest sewing machine cards that emerged from the 19th century:
Which card is your favorite?