Quilting is like breathing…I get cranky when I can't do it!!


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.

Comments on: "The “Columbian” Treadle – Chicago Sewing Machine Co." (20)

  1. 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… llcusa@comcast.net

    • 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.

      • 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!

      • 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!

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

      • 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.

      • Hello Art,

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


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


  2. 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.

    • Steven Smith said:

      Dan, I have a coworker that owns a Columbian but she has no manual. Would it be possible to get a scanned copy of the manual you have. Also, do you know what needle it takes? Any help would be greatly appreciated.

  3. 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.

    • Are you willing to part with shuttle for parts?

      • Linda Dunnett said:

        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?


  4. Linda Dunnett said:

    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.

    • 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:

        Hi Connie,

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

        Thank you, Linda

        Sent from my iPad >

    • 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.

  5. 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.


  6. Don Lampert said:

    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

    • 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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