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    Posted 6 months ago

    (3 items)

    This is another Singer sewing machine that I have acquired recently and would like some information about.

    Unsolved Mystery

    Help us close this case. Add your knowledge below.

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    1. keramikos, 6 months ago
      kinnikakes, Woo hoo!

      You have a Featherweight. :-)

      OK, serial number AF170347 was one of a block of 20,000 consecutive serial numbers (161806 through 181805) that was allotted by the central office to the Elizabethport factory February 15th, 1939, and all were destined to be stamped into the beds of model 221 machines:

      AF- 161806 181805 221 20000 February 15 1939

      AF- 244106 264105 221 20000 July 11 1939


      AF series 1935 1938

      AF series 1938 1941

      Ordinarily, I'd say that it might be safe to 'assume' (yeah) that your machine rolled off of the assembly line by the time the next pertinent block of numbers was allotted (July 11th, 1939), but in 1939 the first rumblings of WWII were starting in Europe.

      The Kilbowie (Scotland) factory, which was the world's largest Singer factory, got very involved in the war effort, and as a consequence, the Elizabethport factory would have been picking up the slack on the manufacture of domestic sewing machines.

      British sewing machine expert Alex Akaroff knows of a verifiable case in which a machine with a serial number allotted in 1939 didn't get sold brand new to a customer until 1946:

      So, I don't know. };-)

      Anyway, the decal set on your machine looks like Knots & Rectangles:

      Here is a manual for a model 221:

      This website has an incredible amount of information about Singer Featherweights:

      If you have more questions, just ask in a comment here.
    2. keramikos, 6 months ago
      Hi again, kinnikakes. :-)

      I went back to try and find a reference for the Elizabethport factory picking up the slack for Kilbowie during WWII, but no joy so far.

      What I did find was a forum with a lot of argument about exactly what and how many armaments Singer did produce:

      Here's the pistol in question:

      It's difficult to determine exactly when production of sewing machines slowed down at Singer during WWII, but these tidbits about the Singer Clydebank (Kilbowie) factory are interesting:


      During the Second World War, Singer continued to manufacture domestic and industrial sewing machines but at a greatly reduced rate. The Clydebank factory was awarded their first war contract for the production of tools used in the manufacture of aircraft in September 1938. Throughout the course of the war production at the factory focused of the manufacture of munitions, aircraft parts and equipment for the war effort.

      On the nights of the March the 13th and 14th 1941, better known as the Clydebank Blitz, the factory was bombed and suffered extensive damage. No loss of life was recorded at the factory however 39 Singer workers died in the town. Singer's contribution to the war effort was so great that work on certain war contracts resumed at the factory on the evening of the 17th March 1941. Less than six weeks after the Blitz full production had resumed despite the loss of 390,000 square feet of the factory.


      So Singer apparently was involved in the war effort by September 1938, a year before WWII officially started.
    3. keramikos, 6 months ago
      More about Singer's WWII support activities:

      As to why Singer was deemed a candidate for making pistols:


      The tools used for the small screws and pars for the needle bar and presser foot are typically the same machines used in [sic] guns. Since machinists who could operate the machines were in short supply, it was easier to get the people in the sewing machine shops to make the parts than train new employees.

    4. keramikos, 6 months ago
      Yet more on Singer's WWII support:

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