Monday, 11 March 2013

How to... Identify an Old Singer Sewing Machine.

I wrote this article back in 2013 
- some of the links no longer work - 
Please check out this updated post for more up to date resources.

If you are trying to identify a year and model for your treadle or handcrank singer sewing machine, let me tell you how I identified my girl. I have given all the relevant links - remember I am no expert in this, but I struggled to find decent information and I am just trying to make it a bit easier for you.

Knowing the age and model number can be essential if you need new parts for your machine, and it is always nice to know anyway. Of course, once you get your old lady working again you'll be giving her a new name and identity and I hope she is with you for many years to come.

Here is my girl, her name is Nefertiti - she came to me a year ago and I cleaned her up and got her working again. She is reliable and even-tempered, a nice lady to have around.


Right, let's get started:

You will find your serial number embossed onto the metal body of your machine. It looks like a little plate but it is in fact straight onto the body and can't be removed easily. I'm not sure why you would want to remove the serial number, but I guess it happens. The position may vary slightly but mine is on the front right corner.

treadle sewing machine serial no

My girls is Y1368567

Model and Age:

Once you have your serial number pop over to this website and click on the relevant letter prefix, they have a pretty extensive database. It should identify the model number and the manufacture date.

From this I know Nefertiti is a 15K model, 1 of a batch of 250,000, Made in 1923.
'date allotted' I am assuming is the date the factory decided to make 250,000 15K machines - it makes her feel not quite as precious and unique as you might think.

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Where it was made:

To find out where your machine was manufactured, check the letter prefix:
click here if it has a single letter prefix.
click here if it has a double letter prefix.

So my girl was made in Clydebank, not far from Glasgow. The singer factory was famous, it was the biggest sewing machine factory in the world and was bombed heavily during WWII - The factory was closed and demolished in the 1980's but it's train station is still there and the area (now mostly housing) is still called 'Singer'.
So my sewing machine has ended up about 30 miles from where she started... I wonder how many of her 250,000 twin sisters are still around.
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If you don't have a complete serial number:

Here are some other identifying methods:

If you have part of the number you can check the year of your machine on the singer website, just follow directions depending on whether your machine has a 2, 1 or 0 letter prefix.

If you have no serial number you can still identify the model that you have the sandman collectables website (though not the best interface) has a fairly easy to follow instructions - click on 'start here' and answer the questions as you go.
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I hope that helps those of you looking for more information about your old sewing machines. If there is anything else you'd like to know or I can maybe help you with, just let me know in the comments, I always try my best to answer your questions.

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12/11/2013 - I love sharing everything I have learned about vintage singer machines with all you readers out there in Blogland. But please, please, please don't email me photos of your machines for me to do the work. Check out the post above and follow all the tips and links I have put up here (thats all I do anyway) 

The instructions above are for domestic, pre-electric models, and the most important thing you need is the serial number, but even if you don't have it there is another website linked above that can help.

If you are really having trouble, do email me and I will see if I can help, I do like to help, I really do, promise.

I've been getting an email a week, often just containing photos and a curt "what machine have I got?" message - I could start charging for the service I guess, but since I have shared all my resources already that seems a bit cheeky.

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