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Simplicity 1884 Style for 2011

Well this week I was going to talk about how to make tomatoes, apples, or peaches into something really tasty for the coming winter. But I got a bit sidetracked, by a little table. I guess the info on canning for the upcoming months will have to wait! I also apologize for the rather jumpy entry this week. Our power has been blinking all morning and then I got called away on an unexpected outing; so it is what it is! If I didn't get posted soon it would be ready in time for next week!

Last week on Between Naps on the Porch, Susan shared a recent trip to Urban Relics Consignment Shop. Included in the pictures was a sweet little table for $165, marked down to $132. That table looked very similar to on I found and purchased on Wednesday! An upcoming series that I have planned is how I am turning our dining room in to my personal Home Manager office. So how does this find fit in? Well, I can't show you the complete transformation yet! First I would like to discuss the table itself as there seems to be a bit of interest in what exactly it may have been intended for.

For info on the table I consulted my go to resource for all things antique. My Mom. My Mom does not admit to being older than 39, (yep, she was really irritated when we threw her a Happy 40th Annual 39th Birthday party a number of years ago) but let's face facts. She just might be older than that! Over the past couple of years, I have become the designated driver for day trips to antique malls and shops in the tri-state area for my mom and Aunt Mary (my Dad's older sister). It is fun to poke about these malls and shops and when I run across something that I have not seen before or am scratching my head wondering what it is, one or both of them can usually describe what the use was and whether or not they used when growing up. I like having a personal curator of the past describing these things to me. I think it is fun to get a snapshot of their youth.

My table is clearly marked with "Simplicity Folding Table; Patent June 10, 84; Address all orders to W.E. & J.M. Eldred; Patentees & Mfgs; Cooperstown, NY."

Last Wednesday evening when Mom called, she asked me what I was doing and I replied, "Well, right now I am doing a happy dance!" She wanted to know why. I explained to her that I had just made a purchase that day at one of the antique malls in Allen, Michigan that my preliminary web search indicated that I had gotten for a really, really, really great price of $25 so I was doing a happy dance. So she wanted to know what was it? I told her that I had purchased a cute little sewing table with a yard stick embossed into it and an 1884 patent date on it. She said it sounded like I did all right on that, would I be ready to go on another adventure say about 9 in the morning? And so yes, another adventure was planned for the following day...but that is a story for another time!

During my Sunday afternoon visit, I was picking Mom's brain further on what exactly this little table I had purchased was, the timeframe of it, and how it was used. This is the description she gave me.
Your Grandma Pink (her mom 1886-1981) had one of those tables with a"yard stick" on top. It was in Junior's (one of mom's brothers) bedroom. It sat between the door and the closet against the wall.

I asked if it folded up.
I really don't remember. I can only remember it standing in his bedroom. I know we sold it at Grandma's auction (1980). I remember it had turned spindle legs on it." (I hadn't shown my mom pictures of my table...I hadn't cleaned it up and taken any yet, so she was going solely by my verbal description, such that it was.)

So I followed up asking about how Grandma Pink sewed.
She had a treadle sewing machine and she made all of our clothes. She used to scold Betty (one of my mom's sisters) and I because we pumped that thing until Grandma was sure that it would break and fly apart it was going so fast.

Did Grandma Pink have a Singer Featherweight?
Oh heavens no. Those didn't come out until during the depression. We didn't have money for those fancy things and her treadle machine worked just fine.

So you didn't learn to sew on a Featherweight?
Oh no, I learned to sew on that treadle machine.
As background for my readers, my mom was an excellent seamstress and made most of our clothes growing up and ALL of our Barbie and other doll clothes--there were 5 of us girls, so that is more than a few Barbie clothes--and our dolls were always the best dressed around.

So how did Grandma use the table?

I can't remember seeing her use it, although I am sure she did. There was very little in our home that was not used. I can tell you how they were supposed to be used though; I used to see them all of the time at auctions.

And how were they supposed to be used?

They didn't make paper patterns back in those days like we see and use today. Every housewife sewed, and every housewife made her own patterns. Those patterns and cutting the cloth to sew was done using those tables. The tables were shorter, so that they could be pulled up over the lap of the sewer so that she could reach, measure, draw, and cut the materials to make whatever she was designing. You know those armless sewing rockers? You could sit in one of those and work on your sewing project. Sometimes when you find those tables today, you will see a path of dots. Those dots were from a little tool that was a wheel on a handle, kind of like what modern quilters use to cut fabric today, only it didn't cut, it transferred a pattern from one piece to another usually using chalk or transfer paper. The transfer markings washed out in the first wash of the garment. Modern quilters might find the tables useful in piecing blocks together.

But then my Mom isn't a blogger.

So now you are wondering how I intend to use this little wonder aren't you?

I wonder if W.E. & J.M. Eldred would be amazed that 127 years after they invented and patented the table for the everyday housewife to use, an everyday housewife would be using one to send information instantly to the rest of the world about their humble creation.

This post has been linked to Metamorphisis Monday at Between Naps on the Porch.


  1. So neat. I had never seen one of these tables and have one! :) Love it! They certainly never dreamed of anything like a laptop when that table was made. "_

  2. That is too crazy! Love it!! Sorry, I'm just now making it around to visiting you from last weeks party at Susan's. It's been crazy busy around here. Anyhoo, thanks for the visit and the sweet comment. Toodles, Kathryn @TheDedicatedHouse