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This little sewing bird is unique in that he is made of solid brass, he’s quite heavy! I think he may be a prototype, if not he is certainly one of the earlier birds 😊. He has a spring under his tail feathers which works fine. His beak opens and closes as it should. The pincushion is original green silk velvet with very few flaws if any. The clamp is a bit bent as it must have been tightened too vigorously at some point. There are bits of brass polish in his feathers and on the clamp. Somebody was very proud of him and kept him shining!
The sewing bird was invented in the 19th century to assist ladies with their hand sewing. The fabric could be put into the bird's beak and there it would be held taut. The sewing machine had not yet come to be and having that third hand to hold fabric was a great help! The patent was obtained by Charles Waterman on Feb 15, 1853 though he had been selling them for a while prior to this. Not long after, the sewing bird took a romantic (?) turn. Young men began presenting their brides to be with a sewing bird months before the wedding so that she could sew the necessities for her trousseau. As she was sewing she would be reminded of her beloved….