For many seamstresses, and home sewers, in fact in the whole sewing industry, the name Singer is a synonym for a reliable and sturdy sewing machine. However, this name is well known even among the people who aren’t in that industry.
Almost everyone heard about Singer sewing machines. Moreover, back in the day, most households had one of these prompts on the sewing table and waiting to be out to work. Consider yourself very lucky if you inherited your grandma’s vintage Singer sewing machine.
There are a lot of vintage models of sewing machines that are still considered one of the best sewing machines ever, but none is as popular and precise as the 1920 Singer sewing machine. This machine is very attractive among seamstresses and collectors. So as you can see the market as well as competition is tight.
In this article, we are all out and about the 1920 Singer sewing machine value. Also, we will talk about how to determine the value, date the machine, grade its condition, and where you can buy it so read on.
Throw Back To The History Of Singer Sewing Machines
The first Singer sewing machine was made and sold in 1850. If you know anything about Singer sewing machines, then you know they have a long and lively history. This company was founded by Isaac Merritt Singer in 1850.
Most people think that he was the inventor of the first domestic sewing machine, which is not true. The truth is that he made modifications to an already patented design invented by Elias Howe. So what did he do to enhance the patent so much that it instantly became popular? Well, for starters he was the first person who install a payment plan for his machines so everyone could afford them.
He also advocated the idea that every home needs a sewing machine just like it needs a cooking stove. Singer and Co. developed affordable and more portable models, as well as updated the collection frequently to keep customers buying new models.
Though Singer died in 1875, the company he founded continued to thrive and was renamed to Singer Manufacturing Company, and then the Singer Company. No matter the name this company dominated the global sewing market from 1851 up until the 1950s.
Leading up to WWI, the company ceased sewing machine production for a time and started producing bombs and munitions to support the government. Despite the war, in the early 20th century they invented an innovative sewing machine design – the first electric-powered domestic machine. This was the Featherweight 221 which featured aluminum parts.
Even after the war most European and Japanese companies started producing many new and innovative models and push out Singer from the competition they still survived. Nowadays, Singer still remains an extremely popular sewing machine manufacturing company.
Which features made Singer sewing machines so unique?
What made Singer’s sewing machines popular and distinguish them from the competition was the unique features such as a straight needle. This type of needle worked vertically instead of horizontally. Exactly this simple but innovative change made using their machines easier. Naturally, more people were interested in buying a machine that was straightforward to use.
Throughout the years, Singer’s sewing machines significantly improved. Most of their models include some of these helpful features:
- A presser foot and support table;
- A treadle;
- Lock stitching;
- A traverse shuttle;
- Automatic backward stitching;
- Gear operation;
- Roughened feed wheel slot.
How To Determine The Value Of An Antique 1920 Singer Sewing Machine?
The value of your Singer sewing machine will depend on several factors, such as condition and grade; how old is it; whether the model is desirable; whether the machine comes with all parts; does it have historic value.
Condition and grade
No matter which type of collectible you are dealing with always take a good look at the condition of the item. This will significantly help you to determine the value, and not get scammed and ripped off.
When it comes to sewing machines a condition will have a dramatic effect on value. There are five different grades for the condition:
- Excellent – A sewing machine that is in this condition has almost no to very few small scratches or marks. The metalwork and paint are in perfect condition and shiny. All parts are present and undamaged. The machine must work perfectly.
- Very good – In this case a sewing machine will show some signs of use. However, it is functional and looks good at first glance. You may notice some medium-sized scratches and needle marks and that’s okay. What you shouldn’t see are rust and missing parts.
- Good – Almost all antique Singer sewing machines are graded good, mainly because these machines were heavily used back in the day. In some cases, there will be a little rust and a few missing small parts. However, all major parts must be present and functional.
- Fair – A sewing machine that is graded as fair always shows signs of significant use. It will have worn or very damaged paint, some rust, and many small parts and accessories will miss. But the machine must be functional. These machines can be easily restored..
- Poor – This machine is non-functional and very worn. It may not be repairable and may be good for machine parts only.
Is that particular machine really antique or just old?
First, you need to keep in mind that not all old machines are antique and valuable. Here is a fact you must remember – a sewing machine is considered an antique if it was crafted at least 100 years ago! Sewing machines that are less than 100 years old are considered vintage. Vintage machines are still extremely valuable among collectors, don’t despair.
You can easily find you how old your machine is by looking at this list of serial numbers for Singer machines. All you need is the machine’s serial number. In most cases, it is stamped on the right side of the machine. If you have a hard time locating your serial number or you can’t find your model of machine you can always try to contact Singer’s customer support. Or you can visit the local antique shop and ask them to help you out.
How attractive your model is among collectors
One of the crucial factors no matter which collectible item you are dealing with is desirability. We are always telling you that your collectible item worths it only if it is sought-after. Now think about how popular a model of your sewing machine is among collectors.
A very desirable antique Singer sewing machine is one that comes from limited edition series and has some detail that attracts the collector. That can be color, a set of features, design, a certain stenciling, or any other factor. Here are some of the most attractive Singer machines among collectors:
- First, let’s mention some of the early Singer models – The sewing machines were mounted on stands, were operated by one pedal, and had lock-stitch vibrating shuttles. These pre-1860 machines were large. Singer Model 1 and Singer Model 2 are very wanted models among collectors. After these, the Singer Turtleback and the Letter A model are on the list.
- Singer model 221 and 222 Featherweight – These models were produced in the period from the 1930s to 1960s and they are still the most attractive and best know Singer sewing machines. However, these are not popular only among collectors, many quilters, craftspeople, and seamstresses are looking for these models to put them to use. These people are willing to pay a large amount of money to get these machines.
- The Blackside model – This was a limited edition that was produced only in a short period of time from 1941 until 1947. This was a pre-and-post-World War II so it has some historical value as well. Also, it is special because it lacks the usual chrome pieces that most Singer models have. Since chrome was in high demand during the war, they were forced to use black metal instead.
Keep an eye out for rare badges
A lot of Singer sewing machines featured different types of badges. The most common badges were gold badges with black decorative rims and simple gold badges. Different badges were used to label various models, which can be very helpful in process of determining the date of crafting and the value of the machine.
Pre-1875 models of machines had a gold badge that features the words New York engraved on the badge. From 1875 until 1951 Singer used brass trademark badges with a logo that features a bobbin, shuttle, and two crossing sewing needles. From 1952 until 1960 the gold badge was embossed with a border in green, black, or brown color. All models made after 1960 feature a simple badge with the red letter S.
Is your machine complete?
Since Singer machines are very old in most cases they won’t come with all parts and accessories. Keep in mind that things like original cases, attachments, accessory boxes, and instruction manuals will significantly increase their value.
Make sure all the main parts of the machine are there, and also make sure they work properly.
When a collectible item belonged to an important historical figure or a famous person the price of it will significantly jump. Most sewing machines on the collectible market today will not have any real historical value. In the case of a sewing machine if it belonged to someone important in the sewing industry the machine would cost a small fortune. However, these machines are extremely rare.
Most machines that you can find on collectors market nowadays are from the late 1800s and they are preserved in museum quality but none of them has any additional historic value.
If you are buying make sure you check where is a machine located
When buying a heavy and large collectible item it is crucial to know where your desired items are located. It can get pretty expensive to ship something as heavy and large as a vintage sewing machine from the far.
However, some certain models are only popular among collectors in some particular areas. So in case you have an eye on a machine that is pretty far away from you, or even overseas, be prepared to spend a lot of money on shipping.
Determine The Real Production Date If Your Antique Singer Sewing Machine
Finding the rarest antique Singer sewing machine is the main goal of every collector. However, to be able to claim that the machine is rare and antique you’ll need to know the exact date of manufacturing.
The easiest way to identify how old your machine is is by using the serial number. A place of the serial number will also tell you in which decade a sewing machine was produced. To locate the serial number you should check the following areas:
- On the bed or on a throat plate of the machine – Only the oldest models of sewing machines have their serial numbers engraved here. These are treadle or hand-crank machines.
- The right-hand side of the machine – All Singer electric and treadle sewing machines have their serial numbers in this place. These were manufactured in the 1920s and later.
- Below the machine – Electric machines also can have a serial number placed here.
- Front or side of the model – These machines were manufactured in the 1960s and they are considered modern machines.
When we talk about antique Singer sewing machines all models that had serial numbers with one or two prefixes before the number, were made after the 19th century. Also, these serial numbers were small in size. Some models will feature two serial numbers.
However, if your Singer sewing machine doesn’t have a serial number it was probably made before 1870. Unfortunately, all the documents about the models made before the 1870s are destroyed so you will have a very hard time dating them. You can look for some guidance on this link.
When you don’t have a serial number of the model, or you can’t find it on the database the only thing you can do is to identify the model by its features and technical characteristics. Now don’t get frustrated, here is the link that will walk you through this process with ease.
List Of Most Valuable 1920 Singer Sewing Machines
Where Should I Look For Antique Singer Sewing Machines?
When you are about to invest in an antique sewing machine, the best thing you can do to protect yourself from scams is to do in-person buying. This goes for collectors as well as for people who will buy the machine to use it. It is ridiculous to invest money in a machine that you previously didn’t examine.
It is very important to determine if the machine is working properly before shipping it to your address. The point is that sewing machines are bulky items, but they are very fragile and they tend to get damaged on the road. So when you shop in person you will be able to test the machine and see for yourself if it’s worth the prices they are asking.
You can do in-person shopping at pawn shops, antique shops, specialized stores, auction houses, and collector’s shows.
In case you are looking for a sewing machine that only looks good and you don’t care if it is functional or not, your options are wide. The best place to start looking is the internet. Check platforms such as Etsy, Ruby Lane, Live Auctioneers, eBay, or 1stDIBS. Before making a final decision make sure to run some checks on the seller to be sure you’ll get exactly what you ordered.
In the end, no matter which way you prefer to shop, the most important thing is to do thorough research about the model of machine you are interested in so you can see in what price range it is placed. The more you know the less the chances of making a costly mistake.
Also Read: Most Valuable Antique Sewing Machine (Worth $4000+)
Is it necessary to use Singer needles with Singer sewing machines?
This is an urban legend. You do not need to use the same brand of needles no matter which brand of sewing machine you use. The only thing that matters is that you are using the correct needle size.
To be honest, your sewing machine won’t recognize that the needle isn’t made by Singer. Use the ones that suit your needs the best.
Do I have to use Singer brand bobbins in my Singer machine?
No, the only thing that matters is that it is the correct type and size. On the other hand, if you are a collector then yes, you will most likely want to own a Singer bobbin so your machine is completely original, which further increases its value.
How do I tell when my Singer sewing machine was manufactured?
As we already mentioned you can do it by locating the serial number. Check the list with all the serial numbers to find out the exact year of production. In case you can’t find the serial number anywhere, you are dealing with an extremely old and rare model so it is best to take it to a professional.
Why are vintage sewing machines better?
This might sound weird but, depending on your needs, in some cases, owning a vintage sewing machine is an advantage over a modern machine. Even though they don’t have a wide variety of stitching options or computerized features many seamstresses always choose a vintage machine over a modern why. Here are some reasons why:
- Durability – Vintage sewing machines are made to last and to work. These machines are extremely durable, no matter how much you use them.
- Heavy-duty build – Did you know that many vintage models can handle heavy-duty sewing easily? Tasks like sewing through layers of thick denim, leather, and other heavy materials with the vintage machine are straightforward.
- Simple to use – Why complicate things? Most people prefer the simplicity of vintage machines. Modern-day computerized machines ae complex to use with all that programming and a wide variety of stitches.
- Environmental friendly – A lot of vintage sewing machines operate without electricity. This makes them great for use in places where electricity isn’t available. People who are all about the environment and try to make greener choices will rather pick the vintage manual machine over a modern electricity machine.
A Reliable Antique Sewing Machine Is That One Partner You Can Rely On For Years
There are several antique Singer sewing machines that are worth your time and attention. For instance, Singer 201 sewing machine is considered one of the best sewing machines ever made! While the Singer 66 sewing machine whose production started in 1920 is the best sewing machine for straight stitching.
Knowing all this there is no doubt why Singer sewing machines are so loved and praised among collectors and craftsmen. Singer sewing machine values can be quite high so make sure you consult with a professional before selling or buying it.
Now, if you have some additional knowledge about the antique Singer sewing machines from 1920 share your thoughts with us, we would like to see what you think of them.