Jim found this lovely catbird for me. If you look at the logo in the upper left, it says “SINGER MANFG. CO. ” Beneath the words is a needle and thread design. So especially appropriate!

Click the picture to open it in another tab. 


The artist was John L. Ridgway, a scientific illustrator best known for his illustrations of birds and other wildlife, as well as his drawings for the U.S. Geological Service. The copyright date at the bottom left is hard to read, but looks like 1892. (The library notes say it was issued in 1899, so perhaps I’m reading it wrong.)

The American Singer Series was a set of 16 trading cards that also served as advertisements. The catbird card shown above was 4.5″ x 6″. I don’t know if they were all the same size. Other cards featured birds including the brown thrasher, orchard oriole, and rose-breasted grosbeak. On the back of the catbird card is an ad for the Singer No. 101-2,  an electric machine.

Screen Shot 2016-03-29 at 4.29.42 PM

Notice also the easy payments and liberal exchange allowance!

Jim found this (and 679,149 more items!) in the New York Public Library’s digital collections. Thanks Jim!

18 thoughts on “Catbird

  1. snarkyquilter

    I see a catbird collection accruing at your house, if you don’t have one already. As I understand it, the Singer Co. did well in large part because of the financing options they offered (EZ pay) and the traveling sales force rather than the quality of their machines.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      I don’t actually have a catbird collection, but I enjoy when they come back to our neighborhood and sing for us. 🙂

      Yes, the payment plan for the machines was a marketing stroke of genius. And here we are today…

      1. Thread crazy

        Then that could be fairly accurate. Hmm, bird eggs come in all sizes. A large pair of pigeons made a nest in one of our cedar trees; an egg fell out of nest and I was so surprised at how small it was.

  2. TextileRanger

    And yet 40 years later the Singer Sewing Machine Company allowed clear-cutting of the last tract of woods where the Ivory-Billed Woodpecker was found; even though the Audubon Society and the governor of Louisiana had the money to buy up the cutting rights!
    They must have had quite a turnover in management to change their attitudes so much.
    It makes me sad when I look at the cabinet on my old Singer machine, thinking it might have come from Singer Woods. Nowadays I think most of us that love crafts, love nature too and want to protect it, but back then, what with the stuffed birds on hats, etc., I’m not sure the two interests appeared together.

    1. Melanie McNeil Post author

      That’s a very sad story. Not being a follower of the company, I tend to think of Singer in relation to the machines rather than the cabinets. Of course for so many buyers, it was a single purchase. Thanks for the link.

      1. TextileRanger

        Yes, I wouldn’t have brought it up with just anybody, but from your writing, it seems you are interested in all the aspects of a story, not just the pleasant ones. (I would put an emoticon for a rueful face here, if I knew how to make one.)

  3. jeanswenson

    I love their ad on the back about how electricity has relieved us from “physical exertion”. Perhaps electricity is the root cause of our struggles with weight 😉
    Your post brought a smile to my face – thanks for sharing!


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