Before electronic machines took over clothing production, the antique singer sewing machine table was the primary source for piecing fabrics together. Although they’re not common in factories today, these old sewing machine tables are great for personal use.
People who grew up in middle/lower class homes and in third world countries may be familiar with the wooden sewing table. It reigned supreme because of its affordability and accessibility.
An average antique Singer sewing machine cost about $50 – $500 on eBay. However, you’ll be surprised at how much a rare model costs when it comes to collecting.
Here we’ll look at all there is to know about antique singer sewing machine tables, this would include their history and of course how to identify valuable models.
What is a Sewing Machine Table?
The sewing machine table gets its name from the marriage of two words – the sewing machine and table. The latter’s connected to the former such that a foot pedal links a wheel to the machine’s needle.
This may sound foreign to you if you’ve only seen the modern electronic sewing machine tables. Also, even though sewing machines are generally referred to as sewing machine tables, they’re not the same thing.
Like we’ve earlier explained, the table is an extension of the machine and has different models just like the sewing machine. It has equally undergone evolution from hardwood tables to wrought irons and cast iron.
Parts of a Sewing Machine
You can’t appreciate the value of an antique sewing machine without knowing its existence details. As much as a complete set is valuable, each part is equally worth some money for replacements and restorations.
Watch this video to see the parts of a Sewing Machine
Brief History of Antique Singer Sewing Machines
Isaac Singer invented the Singer Sewing Machine in 1850 by revamping an existing stitching machine. The improvement in the primitive tool took America by storm, and within 75 years, it became the number one brand in the country.
Per Max Sold, many Americans owned a Singer sewing machine in 1925, and 98 percent of them were rural while 92 percent were urban homeowners.
Isaac Singer lost the legal battle for the sewing machine patent and had to pay Walter Hunt royalties despite his needle being mechanically different from Hunt’s.
He designed several models of the Singer sewing machine following its commercial success. He made a payment plan for his customers (something other brands didn’t do).
Unfortunately, Singer’s unprecedented success couldn’t withstand the competition post-WWII.
The Evolution of the Singer Sewing Machine Tables
Many people don’t know this but sewing tables aren’t the same as sewing cabinets despite their interchangeable usage in semantics. You can use the Singer Sewing Machine Table to identify its production year and by extension, value.
The first attempt Singer made at fusing sewing machines with tables was the Queen Anne Cabinet model. It consisted of a four-legged wooden cabinet designed like a vanity table with a complimentary stool.
Subsequent models made variations of the drop leaf extension popular with antique tea carts. The Singer Cabinet Tables include, No. 40, 42, 50, 56, 65, 71 and 72.
Copenhagen was shaped like an office desk in the early 1900s, and you can already guess what it looked like.
Singer Open Slide Cabinets
Organised people with limited sewing spaces would love the Singer Open Side Chambers. This antique has an openable front revealing the treadle hidden in the box and two drawers on the door.
An alternative variation of the Desk is the Drawing Room desk which looks like an office desk/fireplace. It has an openable door revealing the foot pedal and a drop leaf extension.
The treadle table has a foot pedal that controls a wheel connected to the machine’s needle. Singer’s first models were heavy-duty cast iron treadles with replaceable parts making them ideal for low-income earners.
Treadle tables came in different models including cabinets and drop-leaf extensions. The cabinet treadles had chunky wooden boxes fused with cast iron stands and wheels.
With the drop leaf extension, a wooden surface with a small rectangular box underneath its extended surface sat on a cast iron treadle.
In 1921, electric motors replaced treadle tables as Singer found a way to make sewing easier. With the phasing out the pedal treadle tables, boxed cabinets became the ideal support for sewing machines.
Styles of Antique Singer Sewing Machines
1850 – 1860
1 – 43000
1861 – 1870
43001 – 497,660
1871 – 1880
497,661 – 3,939,999
1881 – 1890
3,940,000 – 9,809,999
1891 – 1899
9,810,000 – 16,831,099
All Pictures sourced from Pinterest, Etsy and eBay.
Identification of Antique Singer Sewing Machine
There’s no easy way to authenticate antique sewing machine tables because using one means of identification isn’t always reliable. However, with a combination of identification means, it’s a hurdle you can pass.
1. Note the Patterns of Popular Models
As seen above, there are many models made by the Singer company, so you need to study the patterns of Popular models to identify them.
For example, each sewing table has a different material based on its model. Common wood used in the early days includes Oak, Mahogany, and Walnut. Also, an older model would be a treadle sewing machine, while modern designs have electric mechanisms.
If it’s a treadle machine, it’ll have a presser foot on the stand. Observe the gold leaf design on the sleek black enamel with the name Singer written on the machine.
The new models are plain whites or off-white as the manufacturers took away the “personality” of the machine. Finally, the cabinet space was reduced as the Singer Company advanced its business.
Check Singer Sewing Info for more pictorial references.
2. Examine the Serial Numbers
Authentic Singer sewing machines have serial numbers etched on the body. Another good thing about serial numbers is their positions can tell when they were made.
The oldest models have their serial numbers on the plate or bed of the sewing machine. If you see the number somewhere else, it was either made post-1960 (front/side) or is an electric model.
Models made before the 20th century had only numbers on their identification tags, while those made in the 1900s had alphabet or roman numerals as prefixes.
Checking for the serial number is one thing but confirming its authenticity is another part entirely. You can check the International Sewing Machines Collectors Society for a comprehensive database. Check the list below for serial numbers between 1850 to 1870.
If your machine’s serial number isn’t logged on the database, you can use the alternate identification means listed above. We must warn you, though, that it’s likely a fake.
3. Is it a Wooden Cabinet or Cast-Iron Table?
This is one of the most important identification methods because it’s a visible physical attribute. You’ve already seen the evolution of the antique sewing machine tables in the Evolution bit above so that can help you.
In case you skipped that heading (scroll back up to read) here’s a recap;
A Wooden Cabinet table indicates an early Singer Sewing Machine Table from 1850 – the early 1900s. It’s typically made of Mahogany, Walnut, or Brown Mission wood. You can take it a step further by comparing the table style.
Wooden tables without foot pedals are the oldest design and were typically made pre-1900.
With the treadle cabinet, you have a mix of wooden tabletops supported with cast iron treadles. There are two designs of this model – the double drawer (Cabinet Table No 10) and the quadruple drawer (Cabinet Table No. 11).
The Card Table was a later development for the Singer company despite being made like its first models – with legs and no foot pedal. The expansive table has a well in the corner made for the sewing machine to sit in, while you work.
It had an optional side table made as a detachable piece for large fabrics. It’s suited for the ¾ machine because the cut-out as noted by ISMACS was made in that size.
For more options, please visit The International Sewing Machine Collectors Society.
Are Antique Sewing Machines Tables Worth Anything?
Even though technology has advanced clothmaking, antique sewing machines are still very much in demand. People want them for personal use and quick repairs, and not everyone can afford a modern electrical model.
Luckily, antique stores still sell quality sewing machines, including Singer. You can buy one for $20 or as much as $500 on Live Auctioneers.
Finding the Value of a Singer Sewing Machine Table
Age is only but a small factor when determining the value of a Singer sewing machine table, contrary to what many people think. Keep reading to learn the important things about picking the right antique sewing machine table.
Questions to Ask When Trying to Determine the Value of a Sewing Machine Table
Why would a Singer sewing machine be worth more than another despite being made by the same maker? You don’t have to search further because we have the answer right here for you;
1. How Old is the Sewing Machine Table?
We can’t emphasize enough how little the age of an antique Singer Sewing machine table influences the price. However, it still matters because it affects other factors such as rarity, design, and sometimes condition.
The older the model, the less likely its accessibility since most of it might’ve gone extinct due to the World Wars. Also, that affects its likelihood of staying intact through the years.
Then, you can also consider using technological advancement and the designs predominant in each year to determine its age.
For example, the Singer sewing table didn’t come until the late 19th century despite the brand dating as far back as the mid-1800s.
2. Is it the complete set?
Good condition is a major factor in determining the price value of an antique Singer sewing machine since it’s mainly a functional piece. Other antique items, such as vases or mantel pieces, can serve decorative purposes, so the working condition quality doesn’t factor in.
A complete sewing machine table is typically worth more than pieces of the equipment, although there are exceptions to the rule.
3. What Details on the Singer Sewing Machine Table Sets it Apart?
Now that you know the working condition is a priority, it’s the perfect moment to add that it doesn’t have to be a deal-breaker. You can transform your sewing tables into other things like a dressing or reading table. So, let’s talk about aesthetic value.
Because old sewing machine tables are made of wood, the quality is high. Check for new painting (red flag) and signs of aging such as mildew, peculiar odor, and shrinkage/expansion.
Moreover, every wooden table at least 50 years old reacts to humidity and heat hence the shrinkage and expansion.
For the treadle sewing machine, inspect the cast iron for rusting. Light rust that you can clean with vinegar is okay, but if it’s extreme, you may rethink your choice.
Worn accessories are a no-no, except you don’t mind replacements. In that case, visit an antique store either online or physically for one. If you’re a hands-on person, you can purchase an original machine in poor condition and make it a restoration project.
Many hobbyists are into that these days; it works with cars, so why not with sewing machines too?
4. Is it a rare model?
The only time a part of a Singer sewing machine table (either the machine only or the table only) would cost more than another complete set is when it’s a rare model.
A typical example of this is the 19-turtleback model – it was the first domestic use design with an iron treadle and had a short-lived lifespan.
Another category in this category is the Singer 12, which had an advanced technology mechanism that was manufactured in the 19th century. Treadle Models are especially great for nostalgia as they’re rare and less made these days.
5. Is it of Historical Importance?
When you talk about “the first model ever made,” you can understand why it’ll carry a high price tag. The Singer Model 1, being the pioneering design, falls into this category despite its many flaws – loud, noisy, and primitive.
Also, in this category are sewing machines that belonged to famous dressmakers, were used on blockbuster movie sets, or were signed by VIPs.
In most cases, anyone getting this category of Singer Sewing machines isn’t doing it for its functionality but for its sentimental importance.
Tips to Selling an Antique Singer Sewing Machine Table
Perhaps the most important part of this guide (just kidding or not) is learning the best tips for selling because who doesn’t want to make a lot of money?
You’ve taken the first step by studying this guide because now, you’re aware of the nitty gritty in the antique sewing machine collection world.
Let’s get more specific on the money-making and spending aspect of the antique sewing machine table.
Never rush into any transaction, no matter how excited you are to own an old sewing machine table. Pause, assess the situation, and crosscheck with this guide before moving forward. Ask yourself these questions,
“Have I Identified the model?” “Is it an antique sewing machine table?” If yes, “how old is it?”
“Is it in demand?” If yes, where can I sell it?
1. How and Where to Sell
Knowing the right market for your antique sewing machine table is the first step to making money. You can have the right product but the wrong audience, and that’s not a good combination.
Generally, antique items sell well during Estate Sales and Auctions. Those are the most exclusive and highest bidding audiences any seller can get. Other sales sites include,
Classified ads:They’re not very effective, but they reach a wide range of possible buyers within your locality. Craigslist is a good place to start.
You’ll notice that the most valuable Singer sewing machine tables in this guide were all sourced from these sites.
You get fair market value on your items. You can compare your Singer sewing machine with any other old sewing machine table and see the going rate.
Locals Stores: Who doesn’t like a local pickup?Antique sewing machine tables are heavy-duty items, and customers would prefer buying from a local store near their destination rather than incurring shipping costs.
Last year, Veranda listed the 21 Best Antique Shops in America.
You can partner with any local thrift store or an antique store to sell your item on your behalf. The transaction details are up to you – either share the earnings by percentage, sell outright to the store or do whatever you feel comfortable doing.
2. When to Sell
The best time to sell is when demand is high. You can only know that if you keep your ears to the ground. Join forums and associations if you must.
3. What to Sell
Any antique sewing machine is the answer if you’re looking to make quick cash. If you want top dollar, sell sewing machines from Singer Manufacturing Company.
Where to Buy a Quality Antique Singer Sewing Machine Table
Before you go, since you’ve learned how to make money, let’s help with how to save money. You can buy an antique sewing machine in any of the places we’ve listed above for selling since they go in tandem.
If you’re low on cash, the best place to shop is a yard sale or local antique store but if you’re willing to splurge, visit the auction houses that facilitate Estate Sales.
How to Pick the Right Singer Sewing Machine Table
Believe it or not, but there’s an ideal Singer sewing machine table for each sewing type and tailor’s physique.
You can decide to sew your cloth standing or sitting comfortably and that’s where knowledge factors into your choice.
Here are a few factors to consider and questions you need to ask to help you make your decision;
- Consider Your Height: Your table has to be ergonomically suited to your physique to avoid overextending your body or slouching.
- Are You a Cluttered Person?Why would this matter? Well, some tables are more spacious than others and can accommodate many tools at once. If you’re not a clutter person, a compact table would work just fine.
- What are you Sewing? The part of the sewing machine table that extends beyond the machine’s space is called the leaf. It comes in multiple sizes like every other part of the sewing machine and that can affect the quality of your work.
If you’re interested in sewing large fabrics then you need as much leaf space as possible.
- What’s Sewing Technique Are You Adopting? Are you a flatbed sewer or a free-arm sewer? If this confuses you, don’t give up yet, we’ll explain further shortly.
With flatbed sewing, you can quilt fabrics conveniently since your arm can rest on the table’s surface.
Think bedspreads and curtains for this style.
On the other hand, free-arm sewing is best for garments since your arms can move in odd angles getting every crevice of the fabric. Think about t-shirts with cuffs, button holes, and more details for this style.
Finding the most suitable model is important, whether it’s a vintage Singer sewing machine or an antique Singer sewing machine. We covered all the bases but let’s recap;
- Identify the antique sewing machine table using the model number and other pointers above.
- Confirm the value by checking all the factors
- Trade in the right marketplace
We know this has been an earful, but we hope our guide has made your collection process easier. Antique Singer sewing machines are worth the trouble, but if you have any more questions, please leave a comment below. We’re happy to answer them.
Q: How Do You Date a Singer Sewing Machine Table?
Singer sewing machines have unique models and identification numbers that can help you date it accurately or approximately.
Q: Are Antique Singer Sewing Machines and Vintage Singer Sewing Machines the Same?
Antique Singer Sewing Machines aren’t the same as Vintage despite people using the words interchangeably. The former means it was made over 100 years ago, while the latter signifies 50 years of age.
Q: How Do I Identify My Vintage Singer Sewing Machine?
The easiest way to identify a vintage Singer sewing machine table is by checking the model number. The same goes for any other brand of the antique sewing machine table.
Remember, it’s not the only means of identification as it may not be visible on your machine.
Q: What Should I Look for In a Sewing Machine Table?
An antique sewing machine table can be used for its functionality or aesthetic value. Whatever you choose would influence the type of sewing machine you invest in.
Q: Who Invented the First Sewing Machine?
Elisa Howe invented and patented the first sewing machine per Silver Bobbin. However, in 1850 Singer modified Howe’s design.