Thursday, 3 April 2014

How much is my vintage sewing machine worth?

I'm frequently contacted by people asking me how much their vintage singer sewing machine is worth.

I'm sorry to be the one to tell you but old sewing machines are worth very little.

And here's a possible reason why...

Between the 1900s and 1940s sewing machines were made by the thousand, my girl was made in the Singer sewing machine factory in Clydebank, near Glasgow in 1929. This factory was churning out around 13,000 machines a week - that is 676,000 a year... and that was just one factory, in just one year. Every housewife worth her salt would have had a treadle or hand crank sewing machine in her house.

By the 1980s and 1990s the market would have been flooded with second-hand manual sewing machines (all those salty housewives were shuffling off this mortal coil and make-do-and-mend was no longer common-place) Many people must have thought that Granny's old sewing machine would be worth something one day, so hundreds of families the world over stored the machines in basements, garages and at the back of the hall cupboard because it was a family heirloom, an antique.

Sadly not... there are still hundreds of these machines around, looking for owners. Often the people who want them want a bargain, they want to be thrifty and sew without the cost of electricity. They are not antique collectors and what you have is likely not an antique.

I got my machine for free, as did my sister, a friend paid £30 in a charity shop. I have visitors to my blog who pick them up in garage sales and even in skips (dumpsters)


If your machine is in absolutely tip top condition, the decals are perfect, it has no nicotine stains, the cabinet is pristine, etc. then I would suggest you auction it on eBay. Start it at £100 ($160 USD) and see where it goes. I have seen pristine machines going for around £200 - £300.

Its not all bad news...

You can give your old machine a new lease of life simply by giving it away to a worthy party, there are folks out there desperately looking for an old treadle or hand-crank machine, as long as it works.

So please do consider giving it away. If you don't know anyone who would want it, give it or sell it for a nominal fee (£50 or under seems reasonable to me)

Checkout Freecycle, or Freegle if you want to gift it to someone.
Craigslist, eBay or Gumtree if you want to sell it on for a few pounds.

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