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  Alex I Askaroff

Alex has spent a lifetime in the sewing industry and is considered one of the foremost experts of pioneering machines and their inventors. He has written extensively for trade magazines, radio, television, books and publications world wide.




The Singer 12 New Family Sewing Machine of 1865

The Singer 12 or Singer New Family Sewing Machine hit the market around the end of the American Civil War in 1865. IN Europe it hit the markets the following year and was later made at Kilbowie in Scotland as well as Elizabeth Port New Jersey, USA.

It was to be the finest sewing machine the world had ever seen and the pinnacle of inventive genius from Isaac Singer. The Singer 12k incorporated the best of every sewing machine idea and was the first sewing machine in history that sewed multiple thicknesses and fabrics with ease. In pr-production no less than eleven patens were used including Elias Howe's 1846 patent under licence.

The Singer 12 sewing machine was also the first sewing machine that was easy to use or user friendly. By the time you had threaded a Wheeler and Wilson or a Grover & Baker sewing machine up you had finished the seam with the Singer 12 sewing machine and gone shopping. It was a modern marvel.

It was the formidable Singer 12 or 12k that added huge wealth to the coffers of Isaac singer in his old age. The K after the 12 denoted that it was made in Kilbowie in Scotland just over the border from the Elias Howe patents in England.

The Singer 12 sewing machine was also called the Singer New Family sewing machine and nicknamed the Singer Fiddlebase due to the beautiful fiddle shape of the bed.

From this machine almost every manufacturer copied the transverse shuttle, straight needle and countless other innovations. The Germans carried on with similar designs for over 40 years finding it difficult to improve on.

Almost every manufacturer produced a similar machine once the Singer patents ran out and by 1880 a hundred clones of this machine existed but none beat Singer for shear quality. The Singer 12k is the perfect example of the old saying that only true quality lasts.

I can just imagine seeing all the competitors faces in 1865 when they saw this machine for the first time. It must have taken their breath away. Even today a Singer 12 sewing machine will stitch most fabrics with ease.

Singer New Family model 12 sewing machine of 1865

Some say that this was one of Isaac Singers mistresses with whom he had three children.

Many collectors will have at least one Singer 12 sewing machine in their collection and good quality ones always fetch excellent prices. They represent a period in our evolution and are a part of living history. The hands that turned the machine just after the American Civil War were our distant relatives. The machine clothed a nation, wedding dresses, christening gowns, husbands work trousers all were made on the fabulous Singer 12 New Family Sewing Machine.

Collectors today think that they are paying a lot for their Singers sewing machine but in 1865 a new Singer 12 sewing machine would cost a years wages and was often bought over a 10 year period on hire purchase. No wonder they were so good they cost more than a new car does today!

Singer 12k New Family Fiddlebase bobbins

I have a handful of original perfect Singer 12 new Family Fiddlebase bobbins in stock. They are $6 each. Let me know if you need any. When the stock is gone they are gone for good.alexsussex@aol.com


Singer 12, 12k, New Family, Fiddlebase sewing machine bobbins


I have a small quantity of needles for the Singer model 12k, model 12, 13, Fiddlebase and Victorian transverse shuttle sewing machines.

Singer 12 needles


Needles for Singer 12k. Needles for Singer 12. Needles for Singer fiddlebase, New Family 1865-1905.


Youtube clip of the Singer 12




Fancy a good read: Ena Wilf  & The One-Armed Machinist

A brilliant slice of 1940's life: Spies & Spitfires

Many of Alex's stories are now available to keep click on the picture for more information.




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