International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society
If your sewing machine, accessory, or ephemera has a name on it, this is the place to start. If we don't have a listing for the name, please use the search function to see if there is any mention of it on our site.
Toy Sewing Machine Information
- ISMACS News Magazine
The International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society is the premiere sewing machine collector's group. A quarterly magazine and access to our annual sewing machine auction are but two membership benefits.
ISMACS Email Digest
Joining the Email Digest
The ISMACS Email Digest is the place to ask all your sewing machine questions. You will be greeted by the internet's finest people and your enquiries will be answered by leading experts.
Frequently Asked Questions
When was my sewing machine manufactured?
Who made my sewing machine?
I heard about machines being "badged", what does this mean?
I could not find my sewing machine listed on your website, where can I go for more information?
What is my sewing machine worth?
How can I go about selling my sewing machine?
How can I clean up my sewing machine?
I need a manual for my sewing machine, where can I get one?
How do I determine what needle my machine needs?
Which way does my needle go?
I need information about my sewing machine and I can't find it here... ?
For Singer sewing machines:
Singer Manufacture Dates
Singer Serial Charts
Call Singer at: 1-800-4-Singer (Have the serial number of your machine ready)
Singer Industrials Dating and Information: 1.800.474.64379
Email Singer at: [email protected]
For Elna Sewing machines:
For White/Viking Sewing machines:
31000 Viking Parkway
Westlake, OH 44145
For Pfaff machines:
Pfaff Dating Chart
For Willcox & Gibbs machines:
Production Figures for Willcox & Gibbs machines
- In the 1890 to 1940 period there was a fad with large retailers and mail order houses to sell "own brand" sewing machines.
To do this they entered into contracts with established sewing machine manufacturers who would supply standard models but with the name of choice substituted for the normal brand name.
ISMACS has records of nearly 5000 such "exclusive" names produced by half a dozen makers during this period.
The situation is further confused in that retailers might switch makers at the end of a contract period and the same name would then appear on a completely different machine by another manufacturer.
- Shortly after WW2 the new Japanese sewing machine industry, funded by US aid, flooded machines into America and Europe.
Distributors in those countries gave them various western-sounding names to help sales.
- In the period between 1890 and 1930 many German companies produced machines with no reference to their origin. This was because of a general mistrust of German engineering and, of course, poor public relations following WW1.
Their machines were distributed with non-Teutonic-sounding names.
Check the answers to the "Who made my machine?".
Please do not seek appraisals, valuations, estimates, worth etc here.
Long time collectors know it's simply not possible to estimate a
machine's worth without a number of criteria being met.
- Condition of the machine which is possible only from a hands-on appraisal. will give you some idea of the vast difference in the condition of so-called "perfect", "mint", "as-new" etc machines. Only with a hands-on viewing would an expert be able to know of any missing parts, replaced parts and the added value of any accessories, box, paperwork etc. These factors can affect the "value" by many hundreds of percent.
- Circumstances When I do an official appraisal I need to know whether the person needs an estimate of what the machine will bring in a local auction, or at in a specialist auction, or at an ISMACS auction, or in a local newspaper advertisement, or to another collector, or to a museum, or to a dealer. or a price for insurance purposes (these are usually pretty unrealistic)
- Location Where you are will play a huge part in the perceived value of your machine.
- Market trends Sales of super rare models are usually between collectors and the information is often available to a limited few. Results of auctions are public domain but outside of the ISMACS events are usually so erratic as to be of little value in assessing results of future sales.
- Human frailty Sadly many folk don't really want to know the "value", they want confirmation that their machine is exceedingly rare and is worth a king's ransom. Tell someone that their recent yard-sale find was made in its hundreds of thousands and is worth less than $100 and you invite a stream of abusive e-mail. Believe me, this has happened many times.
- Why you want to know If you have just bought the machine its value is obviously what you paid for it. If you want to sell it, only you know what price you would be happy to take. If you intend to keep it, the "value" is academic anyway.
- For further insight please read the following article by ISMACS contributor Dorothy Brumleve: How much is my machine worth?
Join the web's largest online auction site:
View the Restoration Article on this website.
Graham Forsdyke recommends STP Tuff Stuff foaming cleanser, available in the automotive care aisle.
Avoid products containing silicone and waxes/car polishes that contain abrasives of any sort.
The ISMACS Webmaster has used Meguiar's Deep Crystal Cleaner, Polish and Wax with great success on his 1950's and 1960's vintage Singer machines. Meguiar's products are available in the car care aisle.
ISMACS has a sewing machine manuals page, please start there.
Start with the needle information here on ISMACS International.
Read this artical on How to Orient your Sewing Machine Needle.
ISMACS has been receiving more than 200 queries each week from folk wanting to research their particular machines.
We cannot cope with this number of individual mails and now ask that all such queries be channeled through the ISMACS digest -- it's free and easy to sign up
-- click here.
ISMACS Quick Links
ISMACS is an organization totally independent of all sewing-machine manufacturers, past or present and is not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned in these pages. Please Note: Do not contact any ISMACS official in an attempt to solicit a valuation - it is not possible other than by hands-on assessment and your request will be ignored.
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