Old sewing machine made in Kettering makes 33 times its estimate at auction

The Family Treasure sewing machine (picture by Hansons)
The Family Treasure sewing machine (picture by Hansons)

An ancient sewing machine that had been gathering dust for decades smashed its estimate to sell for thousands at auction.

The machine, aptly called The Family Treasure, turned out to be just that as a saleroom battle commenced between phone and internet bidders to own a piece of British industrial heritage.

Charles Hanson holding the sewing machine made in Kettering (picture by Hansons)

Charles Hanson holding the sewing machine made in Kettering (picture by Hansons)

The machine - found in a Derbyshire property - was made by Owen Robinson and Co at the Champion Works, Kettering, in the late 1800s.

It’s believed that particular model was manufactured from around 1874 - 144 years ago.

It sold for £2,000 to a private UK buyer at Hansons Auctioneers this week from an estimate of £60 to £80.

The total price with buyer fees and VAT was £2,480.

Charles Hanson, owner of Derbyshire’s Hansons Auctioneers and Hansons London, said: “I tweeted out that I was ‘in stitches’ when I heard about the result and the puns came in thick and fast on social media – were heads bobbin, had I lost the thread, were we spinning a yarn?

“It’s wonderful when forgotten items like this turn out to be sought-after treasures.

“This amazing result goes to show that an old sewing machine gathering dust at home could be worth a small fortune.

“Never dismiss an object that may have been in your family for years, or stuck in the loft, just because you think it’s worthless – the opposite may be true.”

The Champion Sewing Machine Works began in Victoria Street, Kettering, around 1872 and was founded by Owen Robinson, originally a silk weaver and also a clock and watch repairer.

According to Northamptonshire’s Industrial Heritage website (www.niag.org.uk), Kettering was home to clothing manufacturer Wallis & Linnell from the 1860s and it used sewing machines to makes its wares.

Nearby was a small engineering works on Dalkieth Place, which prompted Frederick Wallis to ask its proprietor, Owen Robinson, if he would service and repair his machines.

Mr Robinson took up then challenge and, within a year, had produced an improved version for sewing leather.

Mr Hanson said: “A thriving sewing machine manufacturing industry started in the UK around 1852.

“Many companies remained small and only made sewing machines for relatively short periods before disappearing.

“This sewing machine was clearly extra special, a humble part of Britain’s manufacturing heritage.

“We understand these models were made in Kettering from 1874, which means the item could be nearly 150 years old.

“It’s small, sturdy and heavy and its name indicates it was made for household purposes.

“Sewing machines transformed lives, enabling people to make clothes much more quickly.

“We’re proud to call the invention our own.

“The first working sewing machine was generally considered to be the work of Englishman Thomas Saint in 1790.”

The Family Treasure sewing machine was sold at Hansons Auctioneers, Heage Lane, Etwall, Derbyshire, on July 23.

Hansons holds monthly free valuation events at Cold Higham Village Hall, Banbury Lane, Cold Higham, Towcester, and will be there again on August 8 from 11am to 3pm.