Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another


Cash for Sewing Machines

What Obama’s trade-in program owes to the Singer company

Print Email

The “Cash for Clunkers” concept is nothing new, technology historian Edward Tenner wrote the other day in blog post for The Atlantic. It was an idea employed already a century and half ago by Isaac Merritt Singer and Edward Clark, the duo that founded the Singer Sewing Machine Company. Flush with confidence in the quality of their designs, the pair took out an ad in 1857 encouraging consumers to trade in their older models for new ones:

These worthless Machines now stand directly in the way of the sale of good ones. Their existence causes great pecuniary loss to us…. We, therefore, have an extensive and direct interest in having all bad Sewing Machines finally withdrawn from the market, and our new improved ones substituted in their place.

As a result of the gambit, Singer sales grew that year by 50 percent, and the fortune that those sales helped amass brings us back into the world of 21st-century politics and ideas. The New Republic magazine owes its current existence, at least in part, to the fortune inherited by Singer heiress Anne Peretz, wife of TNR editor-in-chief and part owner Martin Peretz. Ironically enough, recent posts on The Vine, TNR’s environment and energy blog, have been lukewarm on “Cash for Clunkers,” arguing that the program’s potential environmental benefits will, in the end, be quite modest.

Vested Interests
[The Atlantic]

Print Email

Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

nice blog! I like it!

Hands down, Apple’s app store wins by a mile. It’s a huge selection of all sorts of apps vs a rather sad selection of a handful for Zune. Microsoft has plans, especially in the realm of games, but I’m not sure I’d want to bet on the future if this aspect is important to you. The iPod is a much better choice in that case.

Youre so cool! I dont suppose Ive read anything like this before. So good to search out anyone with some authentic thoughts on this subject. realy thanks for starting this up. this website is one thing that is needed on the web, somebody with just a little originality. helpful job for bringing one thing new to the internet!


Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Cash for Sewing Machines

What Obama’s trade-in program owes to the Singer company

More on Tablet:

Klinghoffer at the Met

By Paul Berman — John Adams’s masterpiece is about an American Jew murdered by Palestinian terrorists, but the real opera is off stage