Another Sewing Bird CopyBy Mark Chervenka
Another Sewing Bird Copy
Sometimes, the easiest way to detect reproductions is to ask yourself, "Could this product perform the function for which is was designed?" If you ask that question, you don't need to be an expert on sewing birds to know the piece in Fig. 1 is not authentic.
An authentic sewing bird was used to hold pieces of fabric for hemming or embroidery. A screw clamp held the sewing bird to a table. The "bird" was made from two pieces which pivot in the middle of the body. A strong spring under the tail forces the two parts together at the beak. Depressing the tail opens the beak for inserting the fabric. When the tail is released, the beak closes to hold the fabric in place.
The body of the latest reproduction sewing bird is cast as a single piece, not two pieces. There is no spring, the beak does not open in the new bird. This piece could never logically be used as a sewing clamp. Earlier sewing bird reproductions are made in two pieces. The easiest way to detect those copies is to look at the beak. Original beaks fit so tightly there is rarely a visible joint. Beaks of virtually all new two piece sewing birds have wide, loose gaps in the beak.
The latest reproduction in Fig. 1 is made in pot metal with a darkened "patina" in low areas somewhat resembling pewter. Most earlier two piece reproductions are made of stamped or cast brass. The great majority of original two piece birds are made of cast iron. Many, but not all, cast iron originals have molded patent dates or manufacturers names. Reproduction sewing birds have are not known with any confusing dates or names of manufacturers.