When it comes to Singer, even avid sewing-machine collectors tend not to mince their words. “They were not great innovators,” says Harry Berzack, who owns about 500 sewing machines of various makes and models. But one thing everyone agrees on was Singer’s unprecedented ability to get its machines into the hands of customers. “They were unbelievable marketers,” Berzack says.

That may be why collectors of antique and vintage sewing machines have so much fun collecting Singers—there are a lot of models to choose from. One of the earliest was the Turtleback from 1856, which was only in production for a few years but paved the way for Singer’s New Family machine, which was introduced in the 1860s before being renamed the Singer Model 12. The machine came in hand-crank and treadle versions, and featured decorative gold details on its jet-black body.

An Improved Family machine followed in 1879. This machine is considered a breakthrough because of its oscillating shuttle, but the next year an even more significant development occurred—Singer put an Edison electric motor in one of its machines, a foreshadowing of things to come.

By 1890, Singer had a staggering 80 percent of the world sewing-machine market, and by 1891, that early Edison prototype was being offered to the public. Other models from this era (there were 40 at the turn of the century) include the Singer 48 K, which was manufactured at the company’s plant in Kilbowie, Scotland (the factory would be renamed Clydebank).

The Singer 66 is also of this vintage. It was introduced in 1900 (its portable cousin, the 99, arrived around 1920) and remained in production until the 1950s, which makes this probably the most ubiquitous Singer model available. Another Singer machine that’s popular with collectors (as well as seamstresses and tailors, for that matter) is the Featherweight, which was introduced in 1933 at the Chicago World’s Fair.

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Recent News: Singer Sewing Machines

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7-Eleven saga highlights labour concerns
The Age, August 31st

If Hollywood films are America's most successful commercial and cultural export, franchising may well be its most significant gift to business. Beginning with the Singer sewing machine company's innovation in granting agents the right to sell and...Read more

Off Beat: Yacolt Burn now third-largest wildfire in state history
The Columbian, August 31st

said she'd join them in a bit. When they returned to the ruins of their home, “They found her in the yard,” the Olsons wrote, “surrounded by the blackened remains of her prized possessions. “She died for her Singer sewing machine, and several jars...Read more

Glad Tidings' 90-year celebration continues
Hanford Sentinel, August 29th

They sold and gave away what they did not really need, keeping Mom's Singer sewing machine, a bedroom set that had been given to them for a wedding present, and yes, 800 jars of canned fruits, vegetables and meats that Mom had canned. With these ...Read more

Sounds from past echoes sad fate
SaukValley.com, August 28th

The Singer Tract was owned by the Singer Sewing Machine Co. of Chicago. It was a good steward of this parcel. However, it was sold to the Chicago Mill and Lumber Co. in 1937. Governors of Louisiana, Mississippi, Arkansas, and Tennessee, President ...Read more

Memories of a life of frugality and recycling
Albert Lea Tribune, August 27th

For my mother, an effective method of saving money and materials turned out to be through her Singer sewing machine. Yards of fabric found homes in her creations of quilts, clothing and even wedding attire. Hundreds of scraps became colorful designs in ...Read more

Engine show gets a lady's touch
WiscNews, August 22nd

One of the interactive events taking place on the other side of the Women's Event Building this weekend is sewing with a hand crank Singer sewing machine. Barbara Baird of Baraboo has been demonstrating sewing techniques since the opening of the ...Read more

The Invention That Spawned a Fashion Revolution
TIME, August 12th

The Singer sewing machine was so revolutionary that even Mahatma Gandhi, who eschewed all other machines, made an exception for it. After learning to sew on a Singer in a British jail, Gandhi called it “one of the few useful things ever invented.”...Read more

How Singer Won the Sewing Machine War
Smithsonian, July 14th

The Singer sewing machine revolutionized the way the world created and repaired its fabric, and transformed not only the textile industry, but also global business itself. But a closer look at the Singer patent model, which is on display as part of the...Read more