Ever since an American inventor and entrepreneur named Isaac Merritt Singer overhauled a primitive stitching machine in 1850, the name “Singer” has been synonymous with quality sewing machines around the world. And for many years, the two stalwarts of any American home were a Franklin stove and a Singer sewing machine. In fact, in 1925 a staggering 98 percent of rural families (and 92 percent of city households) had a sewing machine.
Since the days when thrifty farm wives made dresses, shirts and nightgowns out of flour and feed sacks, the Singer sewing machine has been a trusty friend that’s enhanced the lives of generations. However, Singer sewing machines can be pricey — which is why the secondhand market has become a valued resource for designers, sewing mavens and hobbyists everywhere.
Determining Singer Sewing Machine Value
Singer sewing machine value can depend on several factors, including:
Earlier models aren’t necessarily more valuable unless they’re exceptionally rare. Collectors look for extremely early models or highly ornate models with elaborate gold scrollwork, decals and trademark badges. Two especially popular early models are the first machine sold for domestic use, the 1856 “Turtleback,” and the Singer 12 (aka the “Fiddlebase”) from the 1880s, which features a violin-shaped plate.
When it comes to value, the condition is always key. Look for machines that aren’t rusted and can be restored to fully working condition. Just remember, the sewing machine itself is typically the valuable part. If there’s a cabinet and it’s not in great shape, it can still be renovated, or replaced if necessary.
Many sewing enthusiasts prefer the portable electric models that came out after the 1920s and 1930s (such as the Featherweights), because they’re so much easier to use. Other popular antique models include the 15, the 66, the 99 and the 201, all of which are user-friendly and easy to service.
Popular contemporary machines include the Quantum models, the 348 Style-Mate and the slant-needle 401A from the 1950s. Also desirable is the limited-edition, discontinued Heritage (model 8768), a digitized model with curves and elaborate scrollwork to replicate an early 20th-century machine.
Dating Singer Sewing Machine Models
To tell the age of a Singer sewing machine, you need to know its serial number, as well as check out the machine’s trademark badge.
As with most other mass-produced products, the key is in finding the serial number. The earliest treadle and hand-crank models, serial number placement was typically at the bed or throat plate of the machine. For later treadle and early electric models, the serial number was on the right-hand front panel, either stamped on the machine or embossed in a plate. Then, with electric models, the number was usually underneath the machine. And on newer machines, the serial number is typically near the on/off switch. Whichever model you have, if you don’t see the number stamped on the lower front, be sure to turn the machine over and you’ll find it on a plate.
From 1875 until around 1951, Singer sewing machines had brass trademark badges with the words “The Singer Manufacturing Co.,” accompanied by a logo consisting of an embossed shuttle and bobbin, with two sewing needles crossing each other behind. Pre-1885 models also had the words “New York” on the badge. From 1952, the trademark badge had an embossed brass center and colored (brown, green or black) border. By the early 1960s, the shuttle/needle/thread logo was replaced with a red “S” logo, which is still used today.
Which Singer Sewing Machine Models Should I Choose: Antique or Modern?
When it comes to decorative antiques and furnishings, there’s nothing like the cozy, domestic appeal of an antique or vintage sewing machine. That’s why many sewing enthusiasts prefer buying antique or vintage Singers and having them restored to fully-functioning condition.
For example, the aluminum-based Singer Featherweight (models 221 and 222), which was produced from 1933 to 1969, was an extraordinarily popular machine that combined 20th-century technology with lightweight portability. Today, vintage Featherweights continue to be popular with sewing enthusiasts for the same reasons — they’re portable, easy to handle, and have everything you need in a reliable machine.
Unless they’ve been left outside, antique Singers are often well-cared for, as they represented a large financial investment for their original families. In many cases, all they need is a bit of overhauling and oiling to work as good as new. Although they don’t have all the digital perks, these old machines are preferred by many sewing fans because of their durability, their ease of functionality, and of course their beauty and charm.
Auction Prices of Singer Sewing Machine Models
As you can see from these online auction listings, you can find a variety of Singer sewing machine models in excellent working condition for affordable prices. Here are some examples of both vintage and contemporary machines:
- Featherweight (early model): $300
- Hand-crank 1911 model G0564279: $312
- Vintage portable: $220
- Featherweight (early model): $200
- Early 20th century treadle model with table: $180
- 1949 Featherweight: $173
Where Can I Find Vintage Singer Sewing Machines?
Sewing machines can be extremely heavy to ship, so one of the best ways to find a secondhand Singer sewing machine is through a local online auction service where you can pick up your items. As one of North America’s leading online estate companies, MaxSold helps buyers find treasures while helping sellers downsize their belongings. Everything is sold through local auction listings where you live, so you can pick up your item once the auction’s over (which means no delivery charges, too!). Best of all, every auction starts at the amazing price of one dollar, no reserve, making it one of the most exciting auction sites online. If you’re looking for treasure, visit MaxSold, where you can register for free and start bidding now.