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The L. O. Dietrich Sewing Machine Company
&
Vesta sewing machines

 

  Alex I Askaroff

Alex has spent a lifetime in the sewing industry and is considered one of the foremost experts of pioneering machines and their inventors. He has written extensively for trade magazines, radio, television, books and publications world wide. Over the last two decades Alex has been painstakingly building this website to encourage enthusiasts around around the Globe.

 

Books by Alex Askaroff

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Most of us know the name Singer but few are aware of his amazing life story, his rags to riches journey from a little runaway to one of the richest men of his age. The story of Isaac Merritt Singer will blow your mind, his wives and lovers his castles and palaces all built on the back of one of the greatest inventions of the 19th century. For the first time the most complete story of a forgotten giant is brought to you by Alex Askaroff.

See Alex Askaroff on Youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-NVWFkm0sA&list=UL

 

The Vesta Sewing Machine Company
The model of Perfection

See Alex Askaroff on Youtube

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-NVWFkm0sA&list=UL

The Vesta Avenue Sewing Machine

The Vesta Avenue Sewing Machine

 

The German company that made Vesta was called LOD, short for L.O. Dietrich, and was one of the oldest German
sewing machine companies.

The Vesta mark went onto their machines in the late Victorian period and lasted up until the Second World War when
the company became involved in arms manufacture. The factory was finally closed by the Russians around 1946.

Originally LOD was formed around 1869, by 1871 they were well established in Altenburg, Germany. For the first
20 years the machines were basically Singer copies with a big S as one of their badge marks and sold under the
Dietrich, LOD banner.

The company was a mixture of three giants in the German sewing machine industry all eventually selling machines
under their own names.
They were L O Dietrich, G Winselmann, of the Titan mark, and H Kohler.

The three men had all worked together at the giant Clemens Muller Sewing Machine Factory in Dresden. It was there
that they came up with the idea of their own business. It did not last long as by 1880 all three men had parted and
built up their own businesses making machines.

By 1871 The Company had a vast factory employing hundreds of workers and at its peak in 1890 it was employing over
 1,500 workmen.

The name Vesta comes from the Roman goddess of fire and the hearth, which is perfect for a machine that was forged from the great German furnaces. As a very important Roman Goddess her prayers were uttered daily in worship and of course we have all heard of the Vestal Virgins, but I digress.

There were originally two sizes of Vesta and many other models from LOD such as the Universal No 1 with its lovely
open cut gears and lightweight, The Family A and Family B. The Saxonia range which included two smaller machines
and a medium semi-industrial model. As well as the vibrating shuttle models mentioned they also produced oscillating
bobbin machines model E, F and G with a barrel or cylindrical arm. Then there were central bobbin machines such as
the model CE and CF. All were available with the super-smooth ball-bearing treadle base.

All Vesta sewing machines guaranteed for a period of five years.

The machines became an instant success in England and soon offices were opened in London at 16 South Street,
Finsbury. Vesta machine was sold to shops like Collier & Sons of Clapham road South West London. Colliers were a
large ironmongers that sold just about everything you could think of. They were also sold through other retailers
such as
J. D. Williams & Co Ltd, Manchester and Sewing Machine Supplies of Aldergate Street London.

If you look carefully at your machine you may have a Winselmann model. You may see the Titan mark on several
pieces of the machine if you have an early
Winselmann model.

There was a beautiful mother of pearl inlay fiddlebase model, basically a smaller 3/4 size copy of
the Singer New Family transverse shuttle that was around in the 1880's. Mother of pearl became
so expensive that by the late Victorian period it had become un-commercial. Having to hand
polish 15 layers of japanning to find the inlaid mother of pearl took endless hours of work, but
how wonderful it looked. Mother of Pearl on sewing machines died away towards the end of the
19th Century.

The beautiful small Titan fiddlebase, so similar to many Vesta machines, was made by Gustav Winselmann, also in Altenburg, Germany. The machine is marked with the makers details stamped
on the slide plate and also Made in Saxony is on the machine (an old reference to 19th century Germany). The badge has the great Titan standing over the factory holding a sewing machine.
The case often has the gold awards that this small machine had won during its impressive reign
from Milano in Italy, Bremen, Bodenbach and Leipzig.

 


Vesta Trojan Sewing Machine

Dietrich passed away in September of 1904 and his son took over the reigns of their empire. Seventy years after the factory came to life it was ended as part of the Russian war reparations.

And so LOD and Vesta are no more. Often the factories were stripped of their machinery and the assets were
taken back to Russia.

Vesta Titan Sewing Machine, the Titan name was used on several Vesta models.


By 1910 most of the machines started to look much the same as patents ran out and everybody used them.

The most famous sewing machines in the world!

By 1936 the Vesta machines were so admired for quality that they advertised their machines as the most famous sewing machines in the world! That was a bit rich but they were superb machines. The fact that so many are still sewing today goes to show how well made they were.

Open cut gears and porcelain handle all added to the charm and appeal to the smaller than average  Winselmann sewing machine,
identical to the Vesta, made by an old business partner.
 

The Winselmann Court Maker Titan Sewing Machine

The Vesta Vibrating Shuttle sewing machine. Post First World War, the 'Made in Germany' was removed and the word 'Foreign' added...

 

A late Vesta vibrating shuttle, a great machine to sew with.


The Vesta VS Vibrating Shuttle sewing machine circa 1914

A Vesta transverse shuttle below, another great machine to sew with but it created a little tight stitch and did not allow for stretch.
You can see the double threads in action, one for sewing, one for winding as you sew. The Vest model no 5 sewing machine took
 the same needle as the Singer 12 and used a boat shuttle.

Here is a great advert from the 1890's advertising the Little Vesta Sewing Machine model No5. Alfred Paris was a London agent
for Vesta and several other German makers.

Values

The German quality engineering has meant that many Vesta and Dietrich machines still survive. When working well
they make a superb stitch and cope with modern fabrics with ease. The value of the machines depends on condition
and age. The older machines are far more ornate and fetch good prices at auction. There is a keen collectors market
for the best ones. The most expensive I have seen so far fetched over $1,000 in 2009. Strangely though this price is
still nowhere near what these machine cost new in comparative terms. They say nothing lasts like quality and
certainly Vesta sewing machines prove that point.

The Vesta Sylvia circa 1900

If you have any information to add please do contact me: alexsussex@aol.com it is really useful for research and helps others. Also there is a little email at the bottom of the page which is very interesting.


Don't you love this picture of the oiling of the Vesta sewing machine. I need some staff like that!

Mercedes Sewing Machine


It is possible that this Mercedes sewing machine was made by L.O. Dietrich. The similarities including the unique snake scale pattern engraving on the plating is a give-away. I have only seen two genuine German Mercedes VS sewing machines in a lifetime of collecting. The name was later put on a Chinese model before Mercedes made them remove it.

Threading your Vesta sewing machine

Books by Alex Askaroff

 

 
  Well that's it, I do hope you enjoyed my work. I have spent a lifetime collecting, researching and writing these pages and I love to hear from people so drop me a line and let me know what you thought: alexsussex@aol.com. Also if you have any information to add I would love to put it on my site.

Fancy a funny read: Ena Wilf  & The One-Armed Machinist

A brilliant slice of 1940's life: Spies & Spitfires

Isaac Singer, The First Capitalist
Now available as an instant download.


 

Most of us know the name Singer but few are aware of his amazing life story, his rags to riches journey from a little runaway to one of the richest men of his age. The story of Isaac Merritt Singer will blow your mind, his wives and lovers his castles and palaces all built on the back of one of the greatest inventions of the 19th century. For the first time the most complete story of a forgotten giant is brought to you by Alex Askaroff.

Visit Amazon for a list of Alex Askaroff's books

Sussex Born and Bred, and Corner of the Kingdom
 are now available instantly on Kindle and iPad.

      

 


Alex's stories are now available to keep. Click on the picture for more information.

Alex Sussex:
 
Your website surprised and delighted me.  I've collected and enjoyed aesthetics and history of sewing devices in America, and now know much more.  Thank you.
 
Vesta:  My great grandfather Frederick Berryman emigrated out of Prussia-Saxe Coburg, Thuringia area (now Coburg County in Bavaria)  in 1850, one of many leaving after failed 1848-49 unification effort.  Years later he became a postmaster in East Texas.  It was the then for postmasters to submit a name their post office or community to the US. Postal OFfice.  Frederick named it VESTA, Texas (1874-1901).  The older generations of family didn't think to ask, and we younger generations only speculate:  Frederick was an educated man, knew Latin, so evoking the goddess of fire and hearth is quite possible.  Also there was a mid-1800s riverboat into East Texas named The Vesta, which he probably traveled on from Galveston to Sabine County TX.  In Coburg there is a castle/fortification called The Vesta, but usually spelled with an E, Veste--which might be an ironic or nostalgic comment.  In our searches for the use of VESTA in mid-1800s we've found a few other towns in German areas and in German immigrant areas of the US.
 
Thank you!
Martha Berryman

Texas USA

 

Dear Alex,

Thank you very much for your informative website. I picked up a vesta recently, never heard of it before but liked it because its a cute size and I like the open cut gears. Iíve given it a good oiling and clean and it sews like a dream.

Annette

 

Thank you for your article about L.O. Dietrich and Vesta sewing machines and for your invaluable website. My Meister Klasse 101 is a direct descendant of the Vesta line. A Vesta engineer named Stark moved to Schweinfurt, Germany after the war and teamed up with Friedrich Meister, who had been a major Vesta dealer. Their Meister-Werke company produced sewing machines based on a Vesta that Stark had brought with him. The Meister company, as you probably know, was taken over by Viking Husquvarna around 1980.

The Meister logo that appears on the Klasse 101 machines is very similar to the later Vesta logo and the design of the forward-reverse lever is virtually identical.

The Klasse 101s are beautiful, sturdy machines which sew well. I bought mine secondhand in 1978. It's still going strong and it's gorgeous, too.

 

Dear Sir Alec,
With great pleasure and emotion I read your contribution on a sewing
machine "VESTA" It is a machine of my late mother which she received as
a girl of thirteen years in 1939, when he learned the craft of
seamstress. Until two years ago, all the time this machine worked with
my mother, and now remains as a memory to me and I love to watch
podmazujemi .Once again, thanks for a nice story on this and all the other machines,
which maintain a family in the skilled hands of majstoa sewing.
Greetings from Stevan Novi Sad-Serbia

 

 

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