The first treadle sewing machine was conceived by Isaac Merritt Singer in 1850. The machines were first manufactured under the name Singer Manufacturing Co. in 1853. The Singer Co. kept records of each machine manufactured, including the model number, serial number and the production plant's location. Despite having multiple manufacturing locations and producing over 1 million machines, the serial numbers did not overlap prior to the inclusion of letter prefixes in 1900. Once in use, the letters identified the production plant.
Determine if the machine was produced by I.M. Singer and Co. or Singer Manufacturing Co. Between 1850-1853, the machines were manufactured under I.M. Singer and may not carry the traditional "Singer" logo.
Locate the model number on the machine. For the earliest manufactured machines, a model number may not be present. If that is the case, move on to the next step. If there are two numbers present, the shortest number is the model number. Early model numbers were up to four numbers long and sometimes were hyphenated. For example, 7 and 27-4 are early 1900s model numbers.
Find the serial number on the machine. This number is typically located on a small metal plate on the bottom right side of the machine. Machines produced from 1851-1900 will only have numbers in the serial number. Machines produced between 1900-1924 have a single-letter prefix, and after 1924 they have a two-letter prefix.
Research the number on the Singer Machine Serial Numbers website. For models produced before 1871, Singer has not yet recovered the logbooks, and detailed information is not currently available. The first serial number for which records are available is 611.000, which was produced in 1871.
Call Singer for assistance on pre-1871 machines or for help with the model or serial numbers. The phone number is 1-800-4-SINGER.