Millions of Singer sewing machines have been produced since they were first invented by Isaac Merritt Singer in 1850, so pricing one can be a formidable task. The most popular collectable Singer models are the Featherweight, the Turtleback, the Blackside, the Singer 301 along with the Midget and toy models. They are collected for all sorts of reasons ranging from historic and decorative value to actually using the antique models. In a June 22, 2009 interview in "The Collector's Weekly" with Maribeth Keane and Jessica Lewis, antique sewing machine collector Harry Berzack gives his reasons: "I'm more drawn to the ideas in the machines than the country that made them. I'm drawn to rarity. I'm drawn to condition. I'm drawn to mechanical design and how people thought up different features." Many people think that just because old sewing machines pop up at garage sales for low prices, that they don't have value. That is not always the case.
Record the essential information about your Singer sewing machine before researching it. Check the Singer model number and serial number, and find the date it was made, if possible. Ask the following questions: What is the condition---is it rusted and worn badly? Is it in working condition? Is it an older Singer machine that was converted to electricity? Does it have decorative wrought iron sides and peddle, or is it an enclosed wood cabinet model? What type of wood is the cabinet? How many drawers are there and do they have fancy decorations on them? Do you have the Singer accessories, attachments and the original owner's manual?
Purchase (or check out from the library) a sewing machine price guide, and check the price range for your Singer model (See Resource 2 for Singer price guide).
Compare prices for the same model on the Internet. Keep in mind that if you want to sell your machine locally rather than selling it nationally on eBay or another auction site, you may have to lower your price because you will have a smaller marketplace with fewer buyers.
Join an eBay forum and ask advice about pricing your machine from knowledgeable collectors of antique Singer sewing machines.
If you think you have a rare Singer machine, contact an antique organisation such as the International Sewing Machine Collector's Society (see Reference 2) for more specific information.
Finally, determine your price based on the information you have gathered regarding your model, its rarity (or commonness), comparative prices on the Internet and advice from experts.
Adjust your asking price to cover sales costs such as Internet listings. Add costs for shipping, which will probably involve a crating fee if it is shipped via a freight carrier, or your time involved taking it apart and shipping it in separate boxes.
To access a forum on eBay, follow a search link similar to this one found on their "Home site map" page: "Home/Community/eBay Discussion/Category/Specific Boards/Handmade Custom Clothing for Kids/Singer Sewing Machine 185J"