Whether you have inherited an old sewing machine or picked one up at the local thrift shop, it's totally normal to be curious about its value. Antique Singer sewing machine values are determined by many different factors, including the condition of the machine and the desirability of the model.
Certain old Singer sewing machines can be worth hundreds or even thousands of dollars, and yours might be among them. Determining what your Singer is worth gives you the knowledge you need to insure, sell, or just enjoy your machine.
Most Valuable Old Singer Sewing Machines
While most antique sewing machines sell in the $50 to $150 range, some Singers are worth much more. If you have one of these beauties, you may be able to stitch up a fortune.
|Antique Singer Sewing Machine||Value|
|1939 Singer Featherweight With Crinkle Finish||$5,400|
|1935 Singer "School Bell" Featherweight 221-1||$3,500|
|1956 Singer Featherweight 222K With Accessories||$2,500|
|1960 Singer "Red S" Featherweight||$2,100|
|Singer Treadle Sewing Machine With Table||$1,800|
1939 Singer Featherweight With Crinkle Finish
The Singer Featherweight is a classic among sewing machine collectors, and it's super valuable in the rare matte crinkle finish. In fact, there are only 43 known examples. One in perfect condition sold for $5,400 in 2023.
1935 Singer "School Bell" Featherweight 221-1
Singer Featherweights from the 1930s tend to be super valuable, and if they have special features, they're worth even more. One of these features is the "school bell," which refers to the shape of the bobbin winder. One example, which came with tons of accessories and was in beautiful condition, sold for just under $3,500.
1956 Singer Featherweight 222K With Accessories
One thing that makes a Singer Featherweight so valuable is its usability. These are machines that today's home sewing enthusiasts can still use. The really valuable machines have everything in working condition and include lots of accessories. A 1956 Featherweight 222K with all the bells and whistles sold for about $2,500.
1960 Singer "Red S" Featherweight
Between 1959 and 1961, Singer made some Featherweight machines with a red S for the badge. Collectors covet these, especially if they are in working condition and have all the parts. A rare "Red S" Singer Featherweight in excellent condition with case and attachments recently sold for about $2,100.
Singer Treadle Sewing Machine With Table
While the classic Featherweight is where the money usually is when looking at the value of an antique Singer sewing machine, don't forget about treadle machines. To be worth a lot, they need to be in excellent condition and totally functional, and the table needs to be beautiful too. One in perfect shape sold for about $1,800.
Tools for Estimating Antique Singer Sewing Machine Values
If you're insuring your sewing machine or need an official value for another reason, you'll need to have your Singer appraised by a local appraisal company. If you're just curious, though (and who wouldn't be?), these sources can help you estimate the value.
Online Sales of Singers
To get an idea of how much your machine might be worth to buyers, keep an eye on similar Singers that are currently listed for sale or have recently sold. There are lots of places to do this, but we like to start with the big three:
- eBay - Everyone knows that eBay is a great place to see what's selling and for how much. The auction site lets you search recently sold listings, as well as items currently for sale.
- Etsy - A great place to find vintage items and antique sewing machines from individual sellers, Etsy has lots of Singers for sale at a variety of price points. You can search by model or just browse for one that looks like yours.
- RubyLane - Although it's not a huge site, RubyLane has prime examples of Singer machines from throughout the years. See if there is one like yours among them.
Current sales prices can give you a clue about old Singer sewing machine values, but sellers can ask anything they want for a machine. That doesn't mean the machine actually sells for that price. For the most accurate sense of what your Singer might be worth, consider the actual sales values.
Local Antique Stores
Perhaps one of the best ways to estimate your machine's value is to head over to a local antique store. There are two ways you can get a value from the shop:
- Bring a picture of your machine to the store and see if they will offer to buy it from you. If they give you an offer, double that price to get a sense of the retail value. This is kind of hit-or-miss, but it works sometimes.
- Find a similar machine in the store and ask how long it has been listed at that price. According to the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society, you can then halve the original price on the machine for every three months it has been for sale.
Books and Publications
Stop by your local library or order the following books on sewing machine value. They're older, but they can still give you a sense of what you have and what it might be worth. Then use that info to check current sales prices.
- The Encyclopedia of Early American & Antique Sewing Machines: Identification & Values by Carter Bays - Over 600 images help collectors identify and value their machines, including Singers.
- Featherweight 221: The Perfect Portable and Its Stitches Across History by Nancy Johnson-Srebro and Frank Srebro - This book is specific to Featherweight Singer models.
- Antique American Sewing Machines: A Value Guide by James W. Slaten - A good look at values of various machines if your interest goes beyond Singers.
If you're thinking about selling your antique Singer sewing machine, stay local. Shipping these babies is expensive. Look to Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, local thrift stores, and antique shops.
Assess Your Singer Sewing Machine
Several factors decide the value of your antique Singer sewing machine, including the sentimental value it has to you and your family. If it has been handed down through several generations, then the value remains priceless. If, however, you have purchased a machine or are interested in selling one, consider some of the following information before taking it to an appraiser.
Is It Really an Antique?
First, know that a sewing machine is considered an antique if it was crafted more than 100 years ago. Newer machines are considered vintage, but they can still be extremely valuable on the collectibles market. To find out when your machine was built, call Singer toll-free at 1-800-474-6437 or visit this comprehensive list of serial numbers for Singer machines.
Have the machine's serial number handy. You can usually find it stamped on the right side of the machine, but the manufacturer's website discusses alternative placements. Singer can use this information to tell you the year your machine was produced.
What Is Its Condition?
Next, take a good hard look at the condition of the machine. According to Sewing Machine Repair Tips, condition can have a dramatic effect on value. Your machine will fall into one of these categories:
- Excellent - A machine in this condition has very few small scratches or marks and has shiny paint and metalwork. All decals are present and undamaged.
- Very good - This machine shows some signs of gentle use, but it is functional and attractive. There may be a few medium-sized scratches and needle marks. There should be no rust, and all parts must be present.
- Good - Many antique Singers fall into this category. There may be a little rust and a few missing accessories. All major parts should be present, and the machine should function well.
- Fair - This machine shows significant wear, including worn or very damaged paint, some rust, and many missing accessories. The machine still functions. It's a good candidate for restoration.
- Poor - This machine is non-functional and very worn. It may not be repairable and may be good for machine parts only.
If you're thinking about selling your Singer, give it a quick sprucing up to make it look its best. Clean it carefully without using harsh products and gather all accessories and parts that someone might want. See if it functions, too, since people want a sewing machine that works.
How Desirable Is This Model?
The next factor is the desirability of the machine. How popular is it among collectors? Just because a machine is old does not make it a valuable antique. As you probably notice from the list of the most valuable Singer sewing machines, something has to make the machine special.
Very desirable antique Singer sewing machines will have some detail that attracts the collector. It may be the design, a unique color, certain stenciling, or a whole bunch of other factors. The following models or time periods will add to the value of your machine:
- Early Models - Early Singer machines were mounted on stands, had only one pedal, and had lock-stitch vibrating shuttles. Pre-1860, the Singer Model 1 and Singer Model 2 were large and primitive looking. After these first two models came the Singer Turtleback and the Letter A model, which were both much more refined.
- Singer 221 and 222 Featherweight - Some of the most sought-after Singer machines are the 221 and 222 Featherweight, which are still popular with quilters, craftspeople, and seamstresses. While only a vintage machine, built in the 1930s - 1960s, they still work well and are a testament to the quality of the Singer product.
- The "Blackside" - Only made during 1941 and 1947, the "Blackside" is a pre- and post-World War II model that lacks the chrome pieces usually found on Singer models. Chrome was in such high demand during the wars that they began to make the chrome parts, including the face plate, presser foot, bobbins, chrome thumbscrew and some attachments, out of black metal.
Is the Machine Complete?
In many cases, you'll encounter antique Singers that were separated from their original cabinets. This can greatly reduce the value. On the other hand, the presence of a manual and the original accessories can add to the machine's worth.
Where Is It Located?
Due to their size and weight, sewing machines aren't easy or cost-effective to ship. This makes the machine's location an important factor in its value. Certain machines are just more popular among collectors in certain areas.
The best way to find out what your machine is worth in your area is to talk to local collectors and appraisers. They will have an idea of what the various Singer sewing machines are selling for in your area.
Does It Have Historical Value?
Most sewing machines on the collectible market today will not have any real historical value. The machines that get sold for more than two or three thousand dollars are rare items that belonged to an important historical figure or were significant in sewing machine history. They're mostly going to be museum-quality sewing machines from the mid 1800s.
Put your Singer in its historical context if you're selling it. Be sure to talk about its year and anything you know about its history (even if it didn't belong to someone famous). The original receipt adds a ton of provenance and value for a potential buyer.
Evaluation Is Not an Exact Science
Vintage Singer sewing machine values aren't set in stone. No matter what value you are able to assign to your Singer, it's important to remember that your machine is only worth what you can sell it for. The prices can change from day to day and location to location. If you think you might have something worth thousands of dollars, you should contact a professional appraiser. Next, learn about vintage White sewing machines, another brand that helped shape sewing machine history.