German Made Toy Sewing Machines
As early as the mid 1880's, German manufacturers started making toy sewing machines. Over the years there were many German TSM manufacturers, but without a doubt the most successful were Muller and Casige. Both of these companies produced many different models that were widely exported to other countries. The early machines were made of cast iron with later ones being made of tin plate. All the models used a single thread to make a continuous chain stitch.
World War 1 and the Great Depression had little effect on the manufacture and sale of toy sewing machines and production continued to be good, right up until the outbreak of WW2 in 1939. During the war period the toy factories were converted to making armaments rather than toys, but with the ending of hostilities in 1945 the manufacture of TSMs resumed. Muller and Casige, both had factories still standing in Berlin which was divided into four occupied zones.
Friedrich Wilhelm Muller of Berlin began producing toy sewing machines around 1885. His first machines were small cast iron models, but he soon started to produce cheaper tin plate styles that were lighter and painted in a large variety of bright colours with different designs. These appealed more to children but were not as robust as the heavier models. The early cast iron models had the initials FWM painted on the bed but later tin plate models were mostly labelled 'Made in Germany' or 'Foreign', or had the production number stamped on the stitch plate.
After WW2 the Muller factory was in the American zone and resumed production of TSMs in October 1945, using pre-war parts and producing machines that looked the same as the ones before the war started. Machines sold during this time were stamped 'Berlin, Made in Germany, US-Zone'. It was 1950 before new models appeared. After WW2 Muller machines sold in America were labelled KAYanEE whilst Muller TSMs sold to other countries were labelled 'Regina'. Somel ater models were even battery operated and included a foot pedal and light.
Carl Sieper of Gevelsberg began producing toy sewing machines in 1902 and carried on until 1975. The name 'Casige' was made up from using the first 2 letters of his Christian name, his surname and the town he lived in. Casige machines are very similar in style to Muller machines but the Casige machines have the brand name clearly marked on it. Carl Sieper was a locksmith by trade and all his machines show a picture of an eagle with its wings outspread, holding a key. During the Art Deco period of the late 1920's he introduced a series of art deco designs for his machines which were very popular at the time and are very collectable now.
At the end of WW2, with the factory still standing, the production was restarted like Muller, also using pre-war parts. Models from this time have 'Casige, Made in Germany, British Zone' stamped on them and were painted in bright metallic colours with a high gloss finish. Newer models were well made and hard wearing and much larger than the earlier pre-war models.
By the 1970's cheaper plastic sewing machines appeared from the Far East and the demand for toy sewing machines declined as little girls found more modern toys to play with. After nearly 100 years of production, the Muller and Casige factories closed down, along with Singer's Clydebank factory in Scotland and many other TSM manufacturers. Singer went on to open new factories in Asia but the era of the cast iron and tin plate machines was over.