Sewing Machine Research
ISMACS International
International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society

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... ?

When was my sewing machine manufactured?

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Who made my sewing machine?
I heard about machines being "badged", what does this mean?

  • 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.

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I could not find my sewing machine listed on your website, where can I go for more information?

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What is my sewing machine worth?

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?

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How can I go about selling my sewing machine?

  • Try joining either of these two email digests and posting a "forsale" ad (following their instructions):
    ISMACS Digest
    Featherweight Fanatics Digest

  • Join the web's largest online auction site:

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How can I clean up my sewing machine?

  • 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.

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I need a manual for my sewing machine, where can I get one?

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How do I determine what needle my machine needs?

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Which way does my needle go?

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I need information about my sewing machine and I can't find it here... ?

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.