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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It's a wrap for popular Cork landmark
Irish Examiner, November 16th

He drew his inspiration from the design and look of the old black sewing machines which were once sold from Singer's Sewing Shop below. Some of the old machines are still on display in the window of what is today the Singer's Corner Sewing Centre...Read more

Could this be a food-related item? Perhaps our readers will weigh in
Ocala, November 15th

Q: My friend has a small Singer sewing machine from around 1920. It is in very good condition, and comes with all the original parts, including a red cabinet case and instruction booklet. From what I have already researched, it was sold as a child's...Read more

Antiques: Singer sewing machine was child's play
Ottawa Citizen, August 20th

Antiques: Singer sewing machine was child's play. John D. Sewell mug photo John Sewell More from John Sewell. Published on: August 20, 2014 Last Updated: August 20, 2014 10:15 AM EST. The Singer Sewhandy Model 20 was a child-sized sewing ...Read more

The Controversy Around the Singer Sewing Machine Patent
Apparel News, August 12th

Way back when, there was big competition to come up with the best sewing machine. Kind of like coming up with the best mobile phone or app. There were plenty of sewing machines around, but Isaac Singer was the first to build a commercially successful, ...Read more

Exclusive - Kohlberg looking to sell Singer sewing machine company: sources
Reuters UK, March 12th

(Reuters) - The Singer sewing machine company, largely credited with helping develop the U.S. fashion industry by allowing clothes to be made more cheaply and efficiently, is exploring a sale that could fetch more than $500 million (300.8 million...Read more

Historic estate built by Singer sewing machine tycoon partially destroyed in ...
Daily Mail (blog), January 17th

At least 10 renters were left homeless when the fire destroyed the garage and rental rooms above it as well as the guesthouse on the historic grounds of a retreat that once was the summer home of the Singer sewing machine family. Statues of Jesus and...Read more

Made in Jersey: Singer sewing machines had the market sewn up
The Star-Ledger - NJ.com, November 18th

Whether they used one that was powered by a treadle or a pedal, there's a really good chance that someone in your family owned a Singer sewing machine. In 1873, the Singer Sewing Machine Manufacturing Co. purchased 32 acres of land in Elizabeth and ...Read more

Martha Stewart on How the Singer Sewing Machine Clothed the Nation
Smithsonian, October 23rd

The best-selling author, publishing executive and TV personality has been called “America's Homemaking Queen.” For this special issue, Martha Stewart considers the Singer sewing machine, an invention that brought automated sewing to the masses...Read more