Guide to Vintage White Sewing Machines

By Michelle Powell-Smith

Vintage White sewing machines are an excellent choice for both the hobby seamstress and the serious sewing machine collector. Antique White sewing machines include early treadle styles, while vintage White machines offer many features still useful today. White sewing machines from the past are well constructed, durable and often quite attractive. These were good, useful sewing machines in their time and remain so today.

Early White Sewing Machines

The White Sewing Machine company began in 1858 in Templeton, Massachusetts. White's original sewing machine was a small, hand operated sewing machine; however, sewing innovations soon followed. White was producing sewing machines by 1900 which used a patented rotary mechanism.

White sewing machines are hard to find, but quite highly valued by collectors. The rotary style White sewing machine remained in production in various forms through the 1950s. The first furniture style cabinets for the White sewing machines soon followed in the first years of the 20th century.

Electric Machines in the Early 20th Century

In the 1920s, White began producing sewing machines equipped with electric motors to make sewing in the home faster and less labor intensive. These early electric vintage White machines have a crinkle finish to the metal and cast scrollwork detail as opposed to the earlier polished and decaled finish. From 1924 onward, White sewing machines were sold through Sears and from the 1930s forward, White manufactured all the sewing machines sold by Sears. Labels including Minnesota, Franklin and Kenmore made from the 1930s to the 1950s are, in fact, vintage White sewing machines.

Japanese White Sewing Machines

After World War II, the White Sewing Machine Company introduced new sewing machine technology, including zigzag stitching. Zigzag stitches were produced by inserting a small plastic cam into the machine to control the movement of the needle. These zigzag stitch vintage White sewing machines offer a variety of stitches with reliable mechanics. Many of the vintage sewing machines made in the 1950s are clones of the White zigzag sewing machine. Less expensive Japanese machines eventually took over the American sewing machine market and the White Sewing Machine company merged with the Norwegian Husvarqna-Viking.

About the Author

With a master's degree in art history from the University of Missouri-Columbia, Michelle Powell-Smith has been writing professionally for more than a decade. An avid knitter and mother of four, she has written extensively on a wide variety of subjects, including education, test preparation, parenting, crafts and fashion.