Several weeks back, I was lucky enough to purchase a rare and delightful treadle sewing machine made by Wheeler & Wilson in 1892! Prior to negotiating to buy this beauty, I researched Wheeler & Wilson since I had never heard of them and thought I was pretty “up” on my knowledge of sewing machine manufacturers. Interesting story I would encourage you to investigate. Without going into history deeply, Wheeler and Wilson were bought out by Singer as the machines W&W were making was stiff competition for Singer. We still see this happening today – companies merging and buying out other companies who have something the other wants and so they buy it rather than compete. Learning W&W machines were equal to or superior to Singer at the time let me know this machine I was considering purchasing was most likely going to be a gem!
Finally, I had time to give her a good cleaning, oiled her moving parts, lightly sanded her cabinet to shed it of a really poor sealing job someone did (bubbled shellac is not my desired “look”), and watched a magic transformation of the iron stand and treadle go from lackluster black to shiny gloss black simply from a coating of Corroseal. She got a new belt and is ready to go soon as the needles I had to special order arrive. Needles on the market today are not quite the same as they were in the 1800’s. Same with the bobbins. I was lucky enough to find 2 bobbins on eBay, so they, too, are in the mail. I am amazed at how silent the treadle action and movement of the machine is!
I decided I did not want this old gal looking like new; cleaned up, yes, but looking new, no. She earned her worn down decals, scratches, and not so shiny parts. I love her just the way she is and wonder about who first owned her, how many owners she has had, and what was created under her needle. If only she could talk!
Enjoy the pictures of my Wheeler and Wilson No. 9! The detail work on her cabinet is a result of Wheeler previously being a furniture designer before getting into sewing machines. His expertise artistry shows in this solid walnut cabinet.