The machine, used to repair stockings, was brought in the 1940s by her mother, Doreen Black, and was used during the World War 2 years through to the 1950s.
Before pantyhose, stockings were often made of cotton or silk.
Nylon stockings were introduced in 1939 by United States chemical company DuPont and were an instant commercial success, being cheap, durable and sheer.
However, when the United States entered World War 2, DuPont stopped producing nylon stockings and instead focused on refitting its factories to make parachutes, aeroplane cords and rope.
The change led to a shortage of nylon stockings, and as a result some women took drastic measures, including colouring their legs with nugget and drawing a line up them with a pencil or crayon to resemble a seam.
The small repair machine, powered by electricity, was made in France by Zip. It has a needle similar to a crochet hook which hooks the nylon thread through the rungs in the ladder to mend them.
Mrs Noble said at first the stockings her mother mended were silk, and later nylon.
During World War 2 it was not uncommon for some Invercargill women to travel to Christchurch and come back with two or three pairs of silk stockings, courtesy of the American servicemen stationed there.
‘‘If they got a ladder in them, they would come round to mum to repair them.’’
Mrs Noble has memories of watching her mother delicately repairing the ladders in the precious garments.
‘‘She charged one penny per inch, and threepence to finish them off. Mum could zip quickly up the ladder, but it was the finishing off that took the time.’’
When it was time to repair her own stockings, Mrs Noble took on the challenge.
‘‘I was okay at mending the ladders, but had to ask mum to finish them off.’’
She said her mother also had a ‘‘more modern’’ repair machine which was donated to the Southland Museum & Art Gallery in the 1990s, although she had never seen it displayed.
Mrs Noble said she was downsizing and did not know what to do with the remaining machine.
‘‘I would like it to go to someone who has a museum or something similar [where it can be] put on display.’’
Í For more information phone Lynn Noble, 03 218 8350.