Determining the value of your antique Singer sewing machine requires that you first realize that "value" means more than price. In the sewing machine world, models are generally considered antiques if they are manufactured prior to 1900. Machines built since 1900 are thought to be vintage and are valued more by crafters and quilters than by collectors.
Singer began manufacturing sewing machines in 1851. By 1856, they introduced the Singer Family model which was so expensive that the company had to implement a payment plan. Gradually, Singer worked to make the sewing machines more affordable for the average family. Today, the value of an antique Singer sewing machine in good condition made prior to the 1900s could be appraised in the thousands and is based less on condition and more on rarity.
To find specific information about your sewing machine, call Singer at 1-800-4-SINGER. Before you call, find the serial number of your machine on the right side of the machine bed. With this information, Singer can tell you the date your sewing machine was manufactured as well as the model number. Armed with a date and model, you are better equipped to determine the cash value of your machine and whether it is an antique or vintage.
Value could include sentiment as well as money. The Singer that your grandmother passed to you is infinitely more valuable as an heirloom than it is likely to be for a collector. Decorative value is also something to consider. The treadle machines in good condition are quite desirable to some designers and the Featherweights manufactured after 1900 are popular to collectors and crafters.
The earliest Singer machines were mounted on stands and look considerably different than today's models. The later antique sewing machines had lock-stitch vibrating shuttles, which Singer patented in 1859. Toy or miniature travel machines were made from cast iron and are quite collectible, in good condition. The earlier machines had only one pedal, while later models had two. The cabinet housing for the sewing machines became popular after 1900.
To receive the highest value possible, Singers built prior to 1900 should be in good condition but are not expected to be pristine. Working machines are worth more to collectors along with machines complete with all of their parts. For vintage machines built after 1900, even the smallest scratch can make a difference in the desirability of your collectible.
Katherine Kally is a freelance writer specializing in eco-friendly home-improvement projects, practical craft ideas and cost-effective decorating solutions. Kally's work has been featured on sites across the Web. She holds a Bachelor of Science in psychology from the University of South Carolina and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.