The “Columbian” Treadle – Chicago Sewing Machine Co.

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You know what happens when you have too many machines?  You think you’ve told everyone about them all, when you really haven’t!

I got this treadle right before I went on vacation.  It’s called The Columbian and was made by the Chicago Sewing Machine Company.

I found trade literature from the Smithsonian website, which I’d seen before but never got further than I have tonight.  The former name of the company was Tryber & Sweetland Manufacturing Company, 1879-1882.  So I searched on that name which lead me to the SewMuse website:

Tryber and Sweetland became the Chicago Sewing Machine Company in 1875 and then were incorporated from 1882-1902.  They made 11 machine models (if you count the numbered models separately):

No’s 1 – 5, 7, 11
Chicago Low Arm Singer
Imperial High Arm
The Columbian
The Peerless

I still haven’t found a manual, reference to any parts, or any other photos of similar machines.  If I can’t find an original part I’ll need to get something machined to fit over the shuttle in order to use it.

If any of these machines sound familiar to anyone, and you know of any resources, I’d appreciate that info.


19 thoughts on “The “Columbian” Treadle – Chicago Sewing Machine Co.

    llc said:
    June 21, 2013 at 2:44 pm

    I just inherited a Columbian-Chicago sewing machine… complete with wooden cover and belt that is operational… also a box of accessories…If you send me an email address I can send a photo… or perhaps post one here? Do you know when they were manufactured? This was in my grandmothers basement, and has a little water damage on the table top,.. lots of dust and dirt, but otherwise seems in good shape, there is even a spool of thread on it! Any info would be appreciated…

      ArtisanAtHeart said:
      June 23, 2013 at 7:51 am

      I’m so pleased for you that you got such a treasured heirloom. And you’re so lucky that you have the box of accessories! I’d love to see a photo of your machine, and I’ve sent you an email also.

      It seems that they are fairly rare, only one other person has contacted me that they also have this machine. I posted the only information I’ve found about these machines above: Tryber and Sweetland became the Chicago Sewing Machine Company in 1875 and then were incorporated from 1882-1902, but haven’t found any resource to date a specific machine, sorry.

        Art said:
        August 21, 2015 at 7:06 am

        I too have a Improved Columbian Sewing Machine with all kinds of attachments. It’s housed in a Hartman Cabinet that is in pretty bad condition. Unfortunately the belt rotted and broke. Do you have any idea what one of these are worth? I haven’t had any luck on acquiring any info on it. Any idea where one could get a belt? Any info would be appreciated!

        ArtisanAtHeart said:
        August 28, 2015 at 9:21 am

        Art, it’s only worth what someone is willing to pay. It’s truly an antique, from the late 1800’s, though, and I’d say fairly rare, although I have no actual facts to back up that claim. New treadle belts can be purchased at most sewing machine stores, and I’ve seen them sold online. You’d need to be able to cut it to length and fold the staple over to make it work. Some people have used clear plastic tubing, like that used with fish tanks.

        I’d love to see a photo of your machine!

        Art said:
        August 29, 2015 at 7:43 am

        Thanks so much for your response! I’ll get a picture out to you in the future.

        Art said:
        October 1, 2015 at 1:06 pm

        Picture of my Improved Columbian S/N H470913 is available but I cannot figure out how to submit the photo nor who to send it to.

        ArtisanAtHeart said:
        October 1, 2015 at 9:03 pm

        Hello Art,

        Send the photo to While I see your comment that says there’s an attachment, I don’t see the attachment.


        art502 said:
        October 1, 2015 at 1:08 pm

        Attached is requested picture of Improved Columbian S/N: H470913


    Dan said:
    July 24, 2014 at 4:24 pm

    We have just obtained an Improved Columbian treadle sewing machine complete with original manual and all the accessories in the accessory box. I would love to send you some photos to see what you think.

    Art said:
    April 3, 2015 at 9:51 am

    I too have a Improved Columbian Sewing Machine with all kinds of attachments. It’s housed in a Hartman Cabinet that is pretty bad condition. Unfortunately the belt rotted and broke. Do you have any idea what one of these is worth. I haven’t had very good luck on acquiring any information on it.

      Joanne said:
      June 11, 2017 at 2:22 pm

      Are you willing to part with shuttle for parts?

        Linda Dunnett said:
        June 11, 2017 at 3:16 pm

        Hi Joanne,

        It has the shuttle/bobbin holder. The entire unit was purchased in the early seventies from a woman who used the machine. It has been housed indoors since then, but has not been serviced. I’m not interested in selling off parts, if that is what you are asking; would need to keep the entire unit intact.
        Where are you located?


    Linda Dunnett said:
    January 18, 2016 at 1:59 pm

    I’m interested in selling my Improved Columbian (treadle, long bobbin with the box of attachments), housed in a Hartman cabinet with carved drawers. The machine was in working condition when purchased 45 years ago.

      ArtisanAtHeart said:
      February 16, 2016 at 6:40 pm

      Hi Linda,

      Sorry I hadn’t responded sooner, your message got lost in a sea of email.

      Where are you located? Do you have a photo of your machine? How much do you want for it?


        Linda Dunnett said:
        February 17, 2016 at 12:42 am

        Hi Connie,

        I live in Hercules, CA (near Berkeley). I’d like $550.

        Thank you, Linda

        Sent from my iPad >

      Joanne said:
      June 11, 2017 at 2:21 pm

      I am possibly interested, only if it has a shuttle. (Bobbin holder). I have an improved Colombian treble machine with a Hartman cabinet. Shuttle lost so am looking fo just that but will consider machine to get shuttle. Purchased originally by grandmother of my husband.

    ArtisanAtHeart said:
    February 18, 2016 at 6:13 am

    Hi Linda,

    I’m certainly no expert at valuating antiques so your best bet is to get it appraised. I’m pretty sure the market in my area wouldn’t support that price point, but your area may.


    Don Lampert said:
    November 7, 2016 at 8:32 pm

    I just picked up an Improved Columbian head today, and spent the evening cleaning it up. it seems to work fine, but it came without a shuttle and bobbin. The serial # is P 72477.
    Had never heard of them or the Chicago Sewing Machine Co. before, but since I lived in Chicago, it means something. Will need to drive down Halstead and see if the building is still there?!
    Thanks for your blog, and the good information!
    Could send a photo if you’d like.
    Don in SW Wisconsin

      ArtisanAtHeart responded:
      November 8, 2016 at 10:25 am

      Hi Don,

      I’d love to see a photo of both your machine and the building if you go. What did you use to clean it with? I’m still looking for a spring to make the bobbin winder work so I haven’t been able to test mine but I suspect the stitch will be very nice. Life has gotten in the way so it will have to wait, unfortunately.

      Thanks for writing!


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