Antique Singer Sewing Machine Value Guide (Rare Models to Identify)

Ever wondered if that old Singer sewing machine sitting in your attic could be a collector’s treasure? If yes, this guide is what you need.

Sewing machine enthusiasts love Singer machines for their historical significance in the textile industry and unmatched craftsmanship. However, identifying a valuable Singer model and valuing it on your own is not a piece of cake!

But this antique Singer sewing machine appraisal and identification guide will make it super easy for you! You can learn about different Singer models, their conditions, values, decals, and many other ways to value your machine like an expert!

Key Takeaways

  • The value of an antique Singer sewing machine greatly depends on its rarity, condition, and age. Usually, rare models are appreciated decently, even in average or poor conditions.
  • Among many models, Singer 66, Singer 201, Singer 15, Singer Featherweight 221, and 221 are the most sought-after collectible models. 
  • You can easily identify and date a vintage Singer sewing machine using serial numbers. 
  • Different Singer trademark badges and decals, like “Sphinx,” “Red Eye,” and “Memphis,” are helpful identifying tools. 

Brief History of Singer Sewing Machines

Antique Singer Sewing Machine from the 1830s

Singer Corporation is known for revolutionizing the textile industry with efficient, user-friendly sewing machines. The company was founded by Isaac Merritt Singer in 1851.

Singer Co. released some of the most advanced early American sewing machines, including the Turtleback. The late 19th and early 20th centuries saw the rise of Singer Models like 15, 27, and 127.

Soon, with the entry of Model 66, Model 99, Model 221, and Model 201, the Singer Sewing Company gained wide acclaim by the 1930s. Isaac Singer also introduced direct sale campaigns and an installment payment model, making pricey Singer machines more affordable and popular.

During World War II, the company also made and supplied machines to sew army uniforms. Despite the rise of electronic sewing machines in the late half-20th century, the older models remain a cherished collectible due to their quality and craftsmanship!

How to Value Antique Singer Sewing Machines

Based on multiple features, the most common old Singer sewing machines are typically worth around $50 – $500, while the value of rare Singer models can range from $1,000 to $5,000 or more.

To find the correct price for your old sewing machine, follow the given steps:

1. Analyze the Condition

Vintage Singer Sewing Machine with a Wooden Table

The first step to appraise an old Singer sewing machine is to observe its condition. A machine will be valuable (low or high) only if it is in a working order and all its working parts are in place.

For example, the bobbin should rotate, the sewing needle must run up and down, the machine (electric) should start with power, and so on.

Graham Forsdyke, the expert on Singer Featherweight machines, developed a condition chart for ISMACS. The grades in the chart can help you assess the real condition of old sewing machines.

  • 10 (Pristine Condition): Just like brand-new machines without any scratches or signs of use. Such antique sewing machines are extremely rare to find. 
  • 9 (New-like): Indicates minor scratches and signs of use but is still just like a new machine. 
  • 8 (Very Good Condition): Scratches and wear but no chipped paints or rusting.
  • 7 (Good condition): Well-used machine with moderate wear and tear with rubbed and chipped paint, worn nickel plating, and minor rust. 
  • 6 (Above Average): Moderate wear and tear with more paint rubbing and metal rusting. 
  • 5 (Average): Serious signs of heavy usage, worn-off paint and nickel plating, rusted wheels and parts, chipped bed, etc. 
  • 4 (Poor Condition): Major paint chips, dents, worn enamel paints, rusty & sticky metal parts. 
  • 3 (Needs Repair): A grade for heavily used machines that need repair to be functional. 
  • 2 (Needs Restoration): These old machines need major restoration of metal work and paint. But it might lose its worth as an original antique. 
  • 1 (In Parts): Sewing machine with major spare parts that need total restoration to be functional. 

As a rule of thumb, a common older Singer machine will have no value in poor or average condition (3 to 5 grade) and little value and appreciation in good working condition (7 to 9 grade).

On the other hand, a rare Singer model can still fetch decent returns even in a poor state. That’s why you must always check the rarity of your model.

2. Identify the Type:

The value of a Singer machine also depends on which type of machine it is. Since the 1850s, Singer Company has manufactured mainly three types of sewing machines as follows:

  • Treadle Sewing Machine: A Singer treadle machine runs with a foot pedal that moves a belt, powering the sewing mechanism. Generally, treadle sewing machines are one of the most popular Singer machines, worth around $500 – $2,000. 
  • Hand Crank Machine: These machines run with a hand using a handle attached to a wheel. This wheel operates the mechanism by moving the needle up and down. These Singer machines are valued at $100 – $1,500. 
  • Electronic Machine: Electronic Singer machines use electric motors to aid the sewing mechanism. Common early 20th-century electric Singer machines don’t hold much value and are only worth $50 – $500.

3. Identify Rare Singer Models

Different Types of Antique Singer Sewing Machine Colors

As mentioned above, the second important valuation factor for old Singer machines is their rarity and desirability. Not all old pre- or early 20th-century models are highly valuable; only those with special features and functionality will stand out for collectors.

Some of the unique features that make a Singer model rare and valuable are:

  • Heavy-duty, solid-metal bodies with roughened finishes
  • Ornate gold & silver details, badges, decals & Victorian motifs
  • Basic, sewed straight stitches & zig-zag patterns
  • Built wooden cases and cabinets
  • Attachments – Buttonhole, Hemstitch & Quilting, etc.
  • Manual Bobbin winders at the top or sides
  • Stamped or Painted S-shaped, Swan, or Signed logos on the front

Now let’s take a look at Singer’s ten most known antique sewing machine models, features, and their resale or auction prices:

1. Model Patent No. 8,294 (1851)

  • Features: This is the first patented Singer sewing machine model and the first one to have a foot pedal. It had a cast iron table-shaped bed for fabric (base cams), head, and wheels. 
  • Estimated Value: The Singer Patent Model holds significant historical value and is currently preserved at the National Museum of American History

2. Turtleback Model (1856 – 1867)

  • Features: As the name says, this model has turtle-shaped backplates & metal body with driving wheels, rocking treadles, leather belts, and piston shuttles. Turtlebacks are very rare today. 
  • Estimated Price: Singer turtlebacks aren’t found in the market, but if found in good condition, they can be worth over $1,000 up to a few thousand dollars. 

3. Letter A Family (1859 – 1865)

  • Features: The improved Letter A Family models have an extended arm for a larger workspace, a wider foot pedal, a lockstitch mechanism, and a vertical shaft drive system. They also have walnut, mahogany, and rosewood cabinet styles. 
  • Estimated Value: In good condition, the letter A Family models are valued moderately at around $50 – $300. 

4. Model 12 “New Family” or “Fiddlebase” (1865 – 1902)

  • Features: The Model 12 is the first Singer machine with a fiddle-shaped bed and, hence, is also known as the Singer Fiddle Base. Besides, this model is known for its improved mechanism with long bobbins. 
  • Estimated Value: A Singer Model 12 was sold for $1,000 on eBay in excellent condition. 

5. Model 15 (1879 – 20th Century)

  • Features: Singer Model 15 had a low-shank design and worked with an oscillating long beak shuttle and spoked wheel. It also featured a presser foot pressure. The earlier Model 15s were available with treadle and hand crank functions.
  • Estimated Price: The value of a Singer Model 15 machine can range from $100 to $300. 

6. Model 66 (1902 – 1956)

  • Features: Model 66 is a straight stitch sewing machine known for its “Red Eye” decal and its smooth operation with a side drop-in bobbin system and horizontal rotary hook.
  • Estimated Value: Singer Model 66 Treadle machines have sold for $400 – $800 on eBay, while the hand crank models are worth $50 – $250. 

7. Model 99 (1911 – 1958)

  • Features: Singer Model 99 is a more compact version of the Model 66 that also comes with a built-in bentwood or small wooden case (for some versions). Like Model 66, Singer 99 also has the straight stitch function. 
  • Estimated Value: A good-condition Singer Model 99 with all accessories and cases can be worth up to $500. Generally, they are valued at around $50 – $150. 

8. Model 28 & 128 (1910s – 1920s)

  • Features: The smaller version of Singer 27/128, Model 28/128 features a vibrating shuttle system. They use long bobbins and come with a bentwood case.
  • Estimated Value: A Singer Model 28/128 can sell for up to $500 in excellent condition at any auction. 

9. Model 201 (1935 – 1961)

  • Features: The Model 201 is one of the best Singer-selected full-size straight-stitch models ever. It is also believed that Rolls-Royce used Singer 201 to stitch its car upholstery. So, it’s also known as the Rolls Royce of Sewing Machines. 
  • Estimated Value: Singer Model 201 is generally worth around $300 – $500 in working order. 

10. Model 221 & 222 Featherweight (1933 – 1968)

  • Features: Singer Featherweight Model 221 is one of the most collectible models. It’s known for its lightweight and portable functional body, durability, and easy-to-use system with a straight-stitch mechanism.
  • Estimated Value: Featherweight models are greatly sought-after vintage Singer machines with high demand. Generally, Featherweight 221 and 222 are worth $200 – $1,000 or more in a rare crinkle finish. Surprisingly, a Singer Featherweight 221 sold for $5,000 on eBay

4. Accessories and Attachments

Vintage Sewing Machine Accessories

Antique Singer sewing machines come with additional items, like machine attachments and accessories, to ease their use. These accessories can hike the vintage machine’s value.

So whether you’re selling or buying an old Singer machine, be sure to look for the following important attachments and attachments:

  • Presser foots
  • Hemmers, quilters, rufflers, Hemstitchers
  • Buttonholer, Embroidery attachments
  • Instruction Manual and guide
  • Measuring tapes, Needle case, Zigzagger
  • Thread cutters, needle threader, tracing wheel, head gripper
  • Screwdriver set, Oil can, Buttonhole scissors
  • Rubber mat, attachments case/box

5. Analyze Online Sales & Offline Markets

The best way to assign a reasonable price to your antique sewing machine is to observe online sales. You can explore e-commerce sites such as eBay, Etsy, Rubylane, and Marcari to check the recent listings and completed sales of a Singer model similar to yours.

Exploring antique stores or shops can also give you a good sense of your machine’s value. You can show your machine’s picture or ask the store for the value of a similar model and price your model accordingly.

6. Find the Age

Another crucial factor impacting an old Singer sewing machine is age. Generally, the oldest Pre-1900s Singer machines will be worth something in excellent condition. A newer machine with power functions won’t have significant value.

You can ask any local expert to date your Singer machine or do it independently. Read below to find out how!

Identifying & Dating a Vintage Singer Machine

Old Singer sewing machines underwent drastic changes since the 1850s. These changes in physical and mechanical features can help collectors identify an authentic Singer model.

You can spot and date an antique Singer machine using the following ways:

1. Using Serial Numbers

Antique Singer Sewing Machine on a Table
Image: TheFeefth

Singer sewing machines are marked with serial numbers that can help you find their manufacturing year or age in the two given steps:

1. Find the Serial Number:

You can locate the Singer serial number on different spots in different types of Singer machines. So you must check all the parts of your vintage sewing machine precisely to find them.

Generally, serial numbers of different antique or vintage Singer machines are marked on the following spots:

  • Treadle Sewing Machine: The throat plate or bed (earlier models) and right panel (later models)
  • Hand Crank Sewing Machine: The throat plate or bed (below the pillar) 
  • Electric Sewing Machine: Embossed or ink-stamped on the right edge (earlier models) and bottom of the machine (later models)
  • Industrial Singer Machine: On the front

You can also find the model number of a pre-1960s Singer sewing machine marked on a tiny plate at the bottom of the pillar’s front.

2. Analyze & Lookup for the Serial Number on ISMACS:

Once you find the serial number, write it down and count the number of digits.

The Singer machine serial numbers may have one to eight-digit numbers with or without single or double alphabet letter prefixes, like G095031 or ER124534.

Generally, serial numbers without letters were found on 19th-century Singer machines until 1900.

Now, you can search for the serial number on ISMACS’ Singer Company Dating Page database. Find the series with the alphabet in your serial number and look for the number in the tables, as well as its corresponding manufacturing year and model name.

2. Using the Decals or Trademark Badges

Antique Singer Sewing Machine with Sphinx Decal

The interesting pattern you see on the arms, bed, or pillar of the Singer sewing machine is the decal. This decal can help you estimate the age of an old Singer machine.

The earliest antique Singer sewing machines from the late 19th century had detailed decals with scrollwork and floral and geometric elements in gold, silver, or colored enamel.

After the 1950s, the Singer sewing company started using minimal patterns, like small triangular, prism-shaped patterns on decals. Modern sewing machines from Singer only have the patterns on the bed, not around the branding.

Let’s take a look at popular Singer Company decals and their usage years:

  • “Gilt & Mother-of-Pearl Floral” (1856 – 1865): These earliest mid-19th century decals had interesting gilded patterns and scrollwork with mother-of-pearl.
  • “Painted Floral” Decal (1889 – 1890s): This decal, generally seen on antique Singer sewing machines, displays vibrant floral patterns with small or large roses, daisies, rocks, leaves, etc. 
  • “Sphinx” or “Memphis” (1890s – 1950s): This decal features intricate motifs related to ancient Egyptian art, like sphinxes, pyramids, and palm leaves. Sphinx became popular with the Model 27 and Model 127. 
  • “Red Eye” Decal (The Early 1900s – 1920s): Popular synonymously with Singer Model 66, the red eye decal pattern has an intricate scrolling floral pattern with two red eye-shaped designs on both sides of the branding, giving it the name “red eye.” 
  • “Tiffany” or “Gingerbread” (1900 – 1930): This decal pattern features golden scrollwork with flowers and leaves. 
  • “Lotus” or “Egyptian (green)” (1907 – 1920):  The “lotus” decal shows intricate floral motifs of lotus in a multi-color scheme of gold, green, red, or blue. This pattern is also popular on Model 66. 
  • “Filigree” (1911 – 1940s): Filigree decal features detailed lace-like scrollwork around the branding and the bed. You can find this decal on Model 15, 66, or 99. 

Apart from the decals, the Singer transformation of trademark badges is also notable. Although Singer’s official ‘needle-thread-shuttle’ logo was constant until the 1950s, other changes in the badge can hint at the machine’s age.

Antique Singer Machine Trademark Badge
  • 1875 – 1884 Badges: The earliest trademark badges were brass plates with ‘The Singer Manufacturing Co. New York” and Singer’s logo embossed. 
  • 1885 – 1950 Badges: These badges were almost identical to the Singer badges on the 1875-1884 models, except the ‘New York’ was excluded.  
  • 1950 – 1952 Badges: These ‘Centennial’ badges were added to early 1950s Singer machines to celebrate the company’s anniversary. This badge has a yellowish background with the standard Singer logo and brand name and a blue border with “A Century of Sewing Service” text. 
  • 1952 – 1960 Badges: These are similar to the standard embossed trademark badges but have a patterned border around the brass plate. The border color can be different based on the old machine colors. 

After the 1960s, the Singer company completely transformed the badge. So, you can identify post-1960s vintage Siniger machines with this new logo of a figure working on a sewing machine and an S-shaped band with “Singer Sewing Machines” written on it.

3. Evaluating Machine Features:

Although not as precise as serial numbers or decals, several machinery features can also help collectors date and identify vintage sewing machines.

1. Body Shape & Size:

The earliest mid-19th century Singer machines had large and heavy cast iron bodies. The late 19th-century and early 20th-century vintage sewing machines were more compact and easy to place and operate.

2. Base Style:

You can identify antique Singer sewing machines from the 1850s to early 1900s by their Victorian-style cast iron bases featuring intricate patterns and designs. On the other hand, vintage machines from the 1910s to the 1930s or later have simpler lines and decorations.

3. Mechanism:

From the 1850s to the 1900s, Singer mainly manufactured treadle and hand crank versions. The first electric sewing machine appeared in the early 1900s.

This means if a vintage Singer sewing machine runs on power, it can be dated to the post 1900s era. But, if it works with a foot paddle or hand-turning crank/wheel, it’s an antique sewing machine.

4. Type of Stitch:

The earliest Singer machines from the 1850s to the 1920s, like the Model 15, only had the single straight stitch. The company introduced reverse stitching in the 1920s.

The 1950s vintage Singer sewing machine models started getting zigzag stitching, like the Model 401. The post-1950s models have even more advanced stitching types, like scallop stitches, blind hem stitches, and more.

Singer’s earlier models flaunt its exceptional machinery with intricate decorations. That’s why antique lovers still collect old Singer models. Whether you want to collect or sell an old Singer model, this value guide will come in handy!

Don’t forget to check our related identification and value guides on Levi’s tags, old buttons, and vintage cufflinks!

Judith Miller
Judith Miller

Judith is an antique expert with nearly 20 years of experience in the field of antique identification and valuation. She has reviewed over 30 thousand vintage items and has worked with numerous antique shops. She enjoys seeing new places, attending antique shows and events, and sharing her knowledge with people! Know more about me

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