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Oh my gosh! She has her pincushions! I was so happy to find this sewing bird! The spring to open her beak works very well, and the screw for attachment to a table or chair turns easily. The words “Patented Feb 15 1853” are very clearly visible on both wings. The base is not bent or damaged. The once velvet pin cushions have faded and lost most of the velvety feel (there is one spot on the larger one that still has some fluff left!). There are several tiny pin holes in both cushions, which means she was put to good use!
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….