Having already featured vintage Singer ads, we turn our attention to a renown Italian manufacturer. Many consider vintage Necchi machines to be among the very finest models of the all-metal era. A little history first...
Following World War I, Vittorio Necchi realized his family's foundry business needed to seek a new direction to prosper in the changing business world. Necchi's official website tells us, "When his wife asked him to buy her a sewing machine, her only choices were imported models made in the U.S. and northern Europe. Vittorio had an idea: why not create Italy's first sewing machine company?"
Necchi released its first hand-operated sewing machine by 1924, and realized international success by the mid-1940s. Following World War II, Necchi bolstered its distribution network, with much credit given to Leon Jolson. Jolson was a Polish Holocaust survivor and American immigrant. The Washington Post reported the following upon Jolson's death:
Noticing that only basic sewing machines were being sold in America, he contacted Necchi, a prominent Italian sewing machine maker with which he had done business in Poland, and he began selling a model that offered dozens of molded disks that could be easily inserted to create hundreds of embroidery patterns. He capitalized on the "do-it-yourself" movement and challenged the idea that American housewives did not want to sew. Even though more expensive than Singer machines, the Necchi was marketed well, and Mr. Jolson's sales reached $ 2 million by the end of 1948. He quickly paid back a $2,000 loan from the United Service for New Americans and donated $1,000 to the organization for it to give to another immigrant.
Jolson saw an opportunity to expand his product offerings by importing a Japanese machine designed to mimic some of the styling qualities of the Necchi models. It may have been most unfortunate that he named his machine Nelco, because Necchi took issue with Jolson's distribution of the Nelco brand and broke ties with the American.
The Nelco brand is no longer manufactured, while Necchi's Mirella model became part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City, and Necchi continues to manufacture sewing machines.
The Necchi Mirella:
Enjoy these ads from the 1950s.
Our thanks to VSM collector and historian Will McCann for the beautiful magazine ad scans.
Interested to learn more about Necchi machines?
Our documentary DVD Still Stitching features Necchis and dozens of other gorgeous models. Here's a bonus clip from the film in which Scott Kennedy explains the virtues of these sleek Italian beauties:
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