Every now and then, C and I leave our hill and do an afternoon road trip. It was on one of these afternoons about 6 or so years ago, that we stopped by an antique (junk) barn to poke around. On the way down the hill to the barn we passed a pile of garbage. Really, it was the junk pile of metal throwaways, stuff that didn't pass the muster for the sales area inside the barn. If you are seriously poking around, and you are a junk lover to boot, what could be more enticing than a pile of wet, rusty, metal stuff that someone else was sure was junk. We poked at it a bit, nudging stuff with our feet, pulling assorted objects away that looked interesting. I don't remember what part we saw first, but there it was, a circular knitting machine, a sock knitter. A prize! It was too dirty to see what kind it was. There didn't appear to be any markings on it at all. We went inside and poked around a bit more. After awhile we found the owner and asked about the pile of stuff outside. He said it was garbage and we could have anything we found there. I went out and got the machine and asked if he knew anything about it. "Nope. If you know what it is and you want it, it's yours." And that, my friends, is the beginning of my story.
It says Sep 10 1867. Yep! Cleaning it up enough to read that little button was the start of my interest in Bickford's machines. This one is an original. It really does date to 1867-68.
Not all the parts were there, that day. We searched through the pile as best we could. There is a needle missing and some that are broken. It is a curiousity that hands onto a shelf near my desk.
Mr. Bickford was a Vermonter. He was born just over the hill in an adjacent town. His decendents still live here. The envelope below was from the second location he had on Broadway in NYC. The first location burned, I've read the newspaper accounts. It was reported on August 24th, 1885 in The New York Times. Amazing what you can find on the internet.
Got anything to add? I'd love to hear about it.