Singer
Model and Serial Number Identification

Identifying Singer Machines and their Serial numbers

This page needs to be revised due to outdated information

Singer dominated the sewing machine market for over a century so their machines are generally the most documented and easy to research. Most of the domestic (or family) Singer models imported to Australia were produced in Singer's Kilbowie factory in Clydebank, Scotland which opened in 1883 (replacing a smaller Glasgow factory which had opened in 1867. Unfortunately with machines made prior to 1900 it is difficult to identify the factory or model from the serial number. Meaning pre-1900 singer models require physical recognition to ID the model
Singer appear to have removed their official history timeline from their website, along with the PDF files of the serial number records, which although imperfect were a wonderful resource, fortunately I have saved my own copies of these files for personal reference and the International Sewing Machine Collectors' Society (ISMACS) have published these files in HTML form. As extra assistance I can also recommend the ISMACS comprehensive model guide

If you are a collector I can highly recommend joining ISMACS as they have a wealth of knowledge to share.

No prefix Singers
Pre 1900>

The comprehesive record for pre-1900 machines has been long lost so only information the serial number for the three machines to the right is the year of designation.

The Singer 12 (marketed as the "New Family") was the machine that made the fortune for the Singer Manufacturing Co. The "New Family" is a tranverse recipricating shuttle. In the 1860s it was one of the most afforable lock stitch machines which worked reliably but is not really a practical machine for sewing anymore as there are no new parts, bobbins or needles available.

The machine on the left is a 15-1, or "Improved Family" which superceded the 12. The serial number is positioned behind the pillar on this particular machine, though I am not sure this is the usual case for this model. The model first went into production in 1879 and is the first machine in the Singer 15 class.

The Model 27 is recognisable as a vibrating shuttle (long bobbin) machine with a manual tension release. The 27-1 has a "fiddle base" bed but the only significant difference between the model 27-2 and the 27-3 is the shape of the rear plate (the 27-2 has a kidney shaped one like the 27-1).

The smaller (3/4) version of the model 27 was the model 28 and was usually powered by hand crank. The "-" part of the model designation replaced with a "K" for machines made at the Kilbowie plant in Scotland. Most of the Singer machines sold in Australia came from the Kilbowie factory.


15-1 Ser.No. 8239952 (1888)

27-1 Ser.No. 10026073 (1891)
27-3 Ser.No. 14990242 (1898)

Single letter prefix Singers
1900 to 1934>

Kilbowie made Singers made between 1900 and 1935 feature a single letter prefix

Both machines pictured right are in the 15 class, Vali (V74094) was designated with her number in early 1908 and is probably a 15K25 as she is almost but not quite identical to Vera (V802470) who was produced in the second half of the same year (with a slightly improved tension assembly) and positively identified as a 15K26 as she came with her original manual.

The VS models 27 and 28 continued to be produced well into the 20th century, even after they were superceeded by the 127 and 128 class VS models.

Other popular models in this era were the 66 (introduced in 1900) and 99 (3/4 version of the 99). These occilating hook models, particularly the smaller 99, remained popular until the1950s.

15K24 (Presumed) Ser.No. V74094 designated between Jan-June 1908

15K26 Ser.No. V802470 designated between June-Dec 1908

 

Double letter prefix Singer >

The double letter prefix was introduced for Kilbowie Singer machines in the mid 1930s.

Some domestic models introduced in the 1950s (such as the 306 class), had their serial number stamped under the bed of the machine rather than next to the pillar.

In the late 1950s Singer started putting the model number on the machine, making the identification process much simpler.

 

 
Early 1950s 128K


 

Pictured right is a model 15K88, this model is distictive from other 15 class machines because the bobbin tongue points to 11 rather than 1 o'clock and threads right to left like the 201 class which was developed in developed the early 1920s by the design team at the Wittenberge factory in Prussia (Germany) and was in production by 1924 as the 15D88.

Below: 15K88

Below: 201K early 1940s

Below: late 1950s 99K26
Most domestic Singer models made between 1890 and 1960 can be powered by treadle, crank or fitted with a small electric motor. The cabinet style or how a machine is powered has no bearing on the model of a machine, so serial or model numbers on cabinets or motors should not be mistaken for those of the machine.
Identifying other machines

This can be harder than you might imagine, many machines sold by retailers were "badged" with the store's branding, in Australia Bebarfald labelled most of their machines "Blue-Bird" even though they were made by a number of manufacturers in Europe and America, as did Marcus Clark with "New Century" and Pinnock under their own name. In the 1950s Japanese manufacturers started making an improved copy of the Singer 15 class and innovating on that design, and these machines were also badged under retailers house branding.

No matter how much Singer may have dominated the market between 1860 and 1960, they had plenty of competition from the many other smaller manufacturers around the planet, and though they may not have had the market share the machines they produced were often of superior quality and more innovative in design.

   
   

 


shop
Cyndy Kitt Productions items are also available from
Anne Bonny's Locker