Vittorio Necchi returned to Italy in 1919 after serving in World War One, and after being inspired by his wife, turned his family’s foundry into a sewing machine factory.
His early machines were copies of the Singer 15 and production numbers were rather small with few exports, but things started to pick up in the 1950’s with more machines coming to North America.
Necchi became one of the greatest innovators in regard to design and function.
Some of the most notable models were the Supernova and the Mirella, a machine so beautiful it is on permanent display at the New York’s Museum of Modern Art.
The Supernova is regarded as one of the best machines ever made, and was very expensive in it’s day, and much sought after now.
In the the late 1960’s Necchi released the Lydia, styled very similarly to the Mirella but featuring built in cam driven stitches, and this cam stack has proven to be the weak point of an otherwise gorgeous and lightweight machine. Over time the plastics in the cam stack get brittle and develop cracks, which prevents the machine from performing all it’s stitches.
What about Alice ?
When she was given to me I did a bunch of checking and no-body had seen or heard of this model, the folks at Necchi U.S.A. had nary a clue and Necchi Italy was also of no help.
In 2016 I stopped by Massey Sewing, a local shop that was closing because the owners were retiring and it was there the mystery of Alice’s origin became clear.
I saw another Alice on a back shelf and asked about her and this is when I solved the mystery.
Massey Sewing was in business for over 40 years and early on they wanted to expand their model line up, but another shop in the city was a Necchi dealer, although their sales of Necchis were only around 50 machines a year.
So the elder Mr. Massey spoke with Necchi directly and said he would buy 50 machines a month (600 a year) wanted an exclusive model, and went as far to name the machine after his daughter, Alice.
Necchi was very happy to sell 50 machines a month to a little shop in Canada.
The machines sold for $500.00 new and came with a no questions asked 5 year warranty that even included free needles, yearly maintenance, as well as any maintenance that might have been required. Massey sold 600 machines a year for the next 7 years which gives a production total of roughly 4200 Alice machines, which also came in a second updated version.
Sadly, they also share the same cam stack as the Lydia, and these also develop cracks over time, Alice still sews beautifully through the bottom end of her range, but small cracks at the top of the stack affects her stitch quality.
Even then, she is a rare girl in otherwise nearly perfect condition and has some of the cleanest lines I have ever seen on a sewing machine.
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