Trade card. Circa 1910 – 1914. Publisher unknown, Form 1653. Size: 5 and 1/4 x 3 and 1/2″
True, this trade card is not in the best of shape, with some major creasing at the top right, and the name Ella written in childlike handwriting on the front and back (Ella Ellison.) But as of the date of this posting, there do not appear to be any others showing online (though Pinterest shows an ad of the same design that contains some added wording and appears in brighter colors.) Anyway, the front shows a charming illustration of a little girl in pink, seated at a small wooden table, sewing on the Singer 20. Her dolly in high chair is keeping her company, as well as her toy monkey (looking rather politically incorrect) who is seated on the table. The front of the card reads:
“A Singer for the Girls. Not a Toy But A Practical Singer Sewing Machine. Price $3.00.”
The back shows: “The Singer ’20’ Practical and Instructive. Useful and Amusing. Price $3.00” and an illustration of the machine with a girl’s face in the center.
According to Alex Askaroff, the Singer 20 was made at the Elizabeth factory in New Jersey, starting around 1910. It was first billed as a toy, but those in charge must have quickly realized the value of marketing for adults as well. (See the second link for the illustration of the machine fitting in the palm of the hand.) Later called the Sewhandy, production ran all the way until the 1970s, with some changes along the way, of course. The original name came from it’s being the 20th unique machine after Isaac Singer’s very first model No.1 (awarded patent No.1 in 1851). The Singer 20 was the most popular of any toy sewing machine, came in different colors, was copied by other manufacturers after patents ran out, sold worldwide and manufactured in other countries. This particular trade card is said to be pre-WWI.
Sources: Askaroff, Alex I., “Singer Toy Sewing Machine.” Sewalot. Web accessed May 17, 2015.
“Singer No. 20.” ISMACS International. Web accessed May 17, 2015.