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Vintage Sewing Machine Help

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    Posted 6 months ago

    (2 items)

    This post is a guide for people seeking help in identifying vintage sewing machines.

    If your only interest is the potential monetary value of your vintage sewing machine, either choose the Appraisal link on Collectors Weekly (there is a fee involved), or read the external "How Much Is My Sewing Machine Worth?" article linked in the REFERENCES comment below.

    If you want to know other things about your machine, such as the make, model or age, you can use the links in the REFERENCE comment below to help you identify it yourself. If that seems too daunting, then you can create a post about your machine and one of the Collectors Weekly Show & Tell regulars might be able to help you.

    A few words about the images in this post: the vast majority of sewing machines posted here at Collectors Weekly Show & Tell by people seeking help are vintage Singers, thus all of the images in this post are of Singers.

    That doesn't mean that there is no help for other makes of vintage sewing machines. There are a lot of links to information about other makes in the GENERAL VINTAGE SEWING MACHINE RESOURCES section of the REFERENCES comment below.

    If you decide to create a post, add up to four photographs of your machine and in the description put what information you already know plus what you'd like to learn.

    You're allowed up to four images per post, so here are some recommendations:

    1. A close-up photo of the serial number (where available).

    2. A photo of the full front of the machine, including the cabinet if it's installed in one.

    3. A photo of the full back of the machine.

    4. A three-quarters angle photo of the machine from the left and front sides.

    Some people don't even know which is the front side of a sewing machine. They've never operated one, but have inherited one from their great-aunt Effie and want to learn about it. For those people:

    The first image of a sewing machine in this post is a three-quarters angle view from the left and front sides.

    The remainder of the images in this post are of the fronts of the machines.

    Notice that in all of the images, there is a wheel-like device on or near the right-hand side. If you're looking at your sewing machine and the wheel-like device isn't on the right-hand side, chances are that you aren't looking at the front of your machine.

    In the second and third images in this post, the serial numbers are circled in red. In the fourth image, a green arrow points to the approximate location on the underside where the serial number should be.

    If your machine doesn't have a serial number in one of those locations, it's either not a Singer, or it's one of the Singer models that have the serial number in a slightly different location on the bottom of the machine, such as a very old Featherweight, or a model 301. You may have to examine your machine more closely and possibly even turn it on its side to locate and photograph the serial number.


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    1. keramikos, 1 month ago
      REFERENCES 20201215:


      Because this question comes up so frequently, I thought I'd put this link first:

      SINGER-CENTRIC RESOURCES (For other makes, scroll down


      Singer used to maintain serial number records for over ninety-six million* sewing machines that they manufactured between 1850 and 1971. They have handed off that responsibility to the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society (ISMACS), and Singer's website now links to the ISMACS website.

      The Singer records at ISMACS are neither complete nor perfect. For instance, there is no model number information for the prefix-less pre-1900 serial numbers, nor is there model number information for certain prefixed serial numbers:


      See the pertinent labeled sections below for more information.

      Even for serial numbers where model information is available, it isn't always correct.

      So unless you have some basic familiarity with the various models of vintage Singer domestic sewing machines, it's advisable to run yours through the Sandman-Collectibles' Singer Sewing Machine Identification Template tool (see the section labeled "SINGER DOMESTIC MODEL IDENTIFICATION TOOL" to double-check the model listed for the pertinent block of numbers).

      A few words of caution about Singer 9W family of machines: some of them have prefix-less seven digit serial numbers. Looking them up in the ISMACS Singer table of prefix-less serial numbers will only mislead you.

      All of the serial numbers in the ISMACS Singer prefix-less serial number table pertain to machines made before 1900, and none of the Singer 9W family of machines were made before 1900.

      Neither will the Sandman Collectibles' identification tool help you, except hopefully to make you realize early on that your machine isn't covered by that tool (hint: your machine has a configuration of needle and slide plates that isn't in there).

      See the section on "W" prefix serial numbers for more information about the Wheeler & Wilson heritage Singer models.

      Here are the Singer serial number tables at ISMACS:

      A British list of Singer serial numbers:

      A German list of Singer serial numbers:

      * I concatenated the Singer serial number tables at ISMACS into a single file, and imported it into a spreadsheet so that I could sort and/or total various components thereof.


      There is very limited information available about the single letter "A," "E," and "T" prefixed serial numbers, namely, that they all seem to have been allotted to the Podolsk, Russia Singer factory, and no further information is available:


      There is some guidance to the serial numbers and models of the 'lost' German "C" serial numbers, written by the owner of toolfool dot org. A caveat from the author:

      "The information contained on this website is the result of my personal experience, hours of research, asking countless questions, intuition, deductions, assumptions, and stuff I just made up. While I welcome corrections and additions to the information contained here within, I am not liable for anything if you use this information in any way."

      If the owner/operator of toolfool dot org is correct, then there were upwards of six million Singer sewing machines made at the Wittenberge factory.


      For certain serial numbers such as the "JA/JB/JC/JD/JE" prefix ones, detailed records aren't available, only the production factory and a range of production years:


      There is no publicly available, comprehensive database of Singer "W" serial numbers.

      John Langdon of ISMACS opined in 2012 correspondence with a member of the quiltingboard forum that when Singer started using the "W" prefix serial numbers, they essentially reset the counter to zero:

      Therefore, Singer model 9W machines with prefix-less seven digit serial numbers are older than the "W" prefix ones.

      People should NOT use the Singer prefix-less serial number table at ISMACS to try and date a Singer 9W with a prefix-less seven digit serial number. Those serial numbers are Wheeler & Wilson serial numbers that Singer 'inherited' when they took over W&W 1905-1907:

      The closest anybody is probably going to be able to get (without joining every known W&W/Singer forum on the Internet, and querying the users, that is) is to go with the information currently at ISMACS: (e.g., for a Singer 9W7, 1909 - 1913):


      The location of the serial number on a Singer model 221 or 222 (commonly referred to as Featherweights):


      Sandman-Collectibles' Singer Sewing Machine Identification Template is a very handy tool, because while the Singer serial number tables at the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society website are good, they're not perfect.

      I personally have encountered several instances where the model number listed for a particular serial number range was verifiably incorrect (I saw clear pictures of various Singer sewing machines and their serial numbers that contradicted the ISMACS Singer serial number tables).

      This identification tool will help identify Singer domestic models 12, 13, 15, 27, 28, 48, 66, 99, 101, 127, 128, 191, 201, 206, 221, 222, 306, and 319 (along with some sub-models thereof).


      A website about 1865-1970 Singer sewing machines, plus information about manuals, cabinets, decals, and factories:

      A guide for identifying vintage Singer sewing machines from poor pictures:

      How to differentiate between a Singer model 66 and 99 (hint: the Singer badge medallion is pinned lower on the upright arm of the 99):

      How to differentiate between a Singer model 15 and 115 (the 15 has two holes in the machine bed near the needle plate; the 115 has three):

      A website created by sewing machine experts David & Lin Best:

      A blog created by now retired sewing machine expert Sid, maintained by a fan:

      A very detailed website about the Singer Featherweight machines:

      Some advice for servicing and cleaning a Singer model 66 from sewing machine expert Elizabeth:

      Sources for vintage Singer sewing machine parts:

      About Singer's South Bend, Indiana cabinet-making factory:

      The patent for Isaac Singer's 1851 sewing machine:

      A circa 1934 documentary made at Singer's Kilbowie (Clydebank, Glasgow, Scotland) factory:


      The International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society website is a compendium of information about many different vintage sewing machine manufacturers (at least 72) and models:

      The 1968 and 1976 editions of Grace Rogers Cooper's "The Sewing Machine: Its Invention and Development," available in various downloadable e-formats:

      The NeedleBar Original Web Site Archive is inactive, but it has a lot of very detailed information about various makes and models of vintage sewing machines:

      Prefessional sewing machine expert Alex Askaroff's website:

      A blog by sewing machine expert Mel:

      A website by sewing machine expert Paul:

      A page of vintage sewing machines by Zorba the Veiled Male (don't let the odd handle fool you, this person knows a lot about vintage sewing machines):

      A forum of vintage sewing machine enthusiasts, many of whom have detailed, expert information about many different sewing machines:

      Another forum of vintage sewing machine enthusiasts, many of whom have detailed, expert information about many different sewing machines (requires an account for viewing/downloading files):

      A very large Facebook group for vintage sewing machine enthusiasts (requires an account):

      Some background on the Facebook group:

      If Facebook is not your cup of tea, ISMACS has a vintage sewing machine group on

      A webpage of vintage sewing machines created and maintained by retired engineer Wayne Schmidt:

      Some advice on restoring vintage sewing machines:

      A website with advice for restoring and maintaining various makes and models of vintage sewing machines:

      An article on cleaning, and restoring both vintage sewing machine heads and cabinets:

      Another with tips on removing old paint from cabinets and cabinet hardware:

      An excellent website for vintage sewing machine owners (caveat: this is a business). Articles, interviews, tutorials, services and a way to contact somebody who maintains a digital library of about a thousand vintage sewing machine manuals:


      White was once one of Singer's biggest competitors and while serial number records aren't as comprehensive as those for Singer, there are some records that can be used as a guide for determining the general age of vintage White sewing machines:

      There are a couple of websites with extensive vintage White sewing machine information:

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