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The Most Expensive Toy Sewing Machine in the World

by Graham Forsdyke
ISMACS News
July 1996
Issue 52

The Clown adorning this page is the most expensive toy sewing machine in the world.

It was sold last April at the ISMACS auction -- part of the annual convention in London, England. The 170 members at the sale knew they were in for fireworks when auctioneer Graham Forsdyke announced the lot.

Suffering from laryngitis his harsh whisper amplified at full power added to the drama as he opened the bidding at 2,000 pounds sterling ($3,400).

The bidding soared to 6,000 pounds ($10,200) and then became a two horse race between a big-time English industrial-sewing-machine dealer and a German millionaire, determined to add the machine to his museum.

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At 7,800 pounds, the German hesitated before bidding 7.900 ($13.400) and auction-wise members of the audience knew the end was near. The Englishman, who had kept his catalogue aloft for the duration of the drama as a signal that he was still bidding, didn't flinch but just smiled softly as Graham acknowledged his silent bid of 8,000 pounds ($13,600).

With a sad shake of his head the German museum owner stepped down and Graham announced that the world-record-priced machine would remain in England.

What all this money had bought was the ultimate toy for the rich child of 1892.

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Designed by Max Sandt and made in Germany, the Clown and the similar figural Lady are now the most sought after items in the fast growing toy-sewing-machine-collecting market.

There are probably well less than 10 Ladies and only four Clowns in existence. Only Maggie's Snell's collection in London boasts an example of each.

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ISMACS is an organization totally independent of all sewing-machine manufacturers, past or present and is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in these pages.  Please Note: Do not contact any ISMACS official in an attempt to solicit a valuation - it is not possible other than by hands-on assessment and your request will be ignored.