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Singer Featherweight 221 Condition Guide

As members of ISMACS -- the International Sewing Machine Collectors Society -- Hip Stitch strongly advocates the adoption of Graham Forsdyke's chart of condition.

We reproduce below his chart, with notes and additions pertinent to our trade in Featherweights. We buy, sell, refurbish, recondition and repaint Model 221, 222 and 301 machines everyday.

Graham Forsdyke's chart is now universally used to determine sewing machine condition, so that when machines are described among collectors, we can all have a better idea of the state of the items, than good, very good or poor. This scale takes no notice of mechanical condition. If something is broken or missing this should be stated, not hidden behind a number. This system seems to have worked well over the past 20 years and we recommend it to members.

Hip Stitch recommends against any sort of repainting to machines in the top tier. We are happy to represent such machines on a consignment basis. Depending on the machine in question, we will waive our percentage based commission for a flat fee.

10. Just like the day it left the factory. Not a scratch or mark upon it. I think I have ever seen only two machines in this category.
9.   As 10 but with the small, odd scratch or wear mark evident to very close inspection.
8.  Very good used condition. All paint good; all metalwork bright. What the average antique dealer would call "perfect".

Depending on rarity of machine and sentimental value, repainting of machines in the second tier is to be considered on a case by case basis. For Singer Featherweight 221 and 222 machines as well as 301s, check the handwheel for nicks in the paint, and the decals where fabric would be feed through the machine. These are the most obvious wear points.

7. Good condition but rubbing of paint evident and some nickel plating worn.
6. As in 7 but more wear to paint and some surface rust to the bright work.

Third tier machines are the Featherweights we seek. Preference given to complete sewing machines including case, foot pedal, presser feet, manual and all other accessories. Call for daily market estimate. We base our prices on Ebay "Buy it now" offerings which are similar in condition, age and accessories. We have purchased machines that had very apparently been on a wet basement floor -- the paint was flaking and bubbling off. Since we sand and prime, to us it's not a problem.

5. The average, hard-used, ill-cared-for machine looking for someone to love it.
4. Poor condition, chipped enamel, rusty metalwork but acceptable for a collection if a rare machine.
3. In need of restoration but a reasonable job for a dedicated enthusiast.
2. Total restoration needed to paintwork and bright metal. It's a brave collector that takes it on.

Bottom tier machines are purchased on occasion. They are only considered on a case by case basis depending on what parts we have and what parts we need. Call and inquire. Unfortunately, in many cases, the cost to ship exceeds the value of the machine.

1. Spare parts only and these would be in need of extensive restoration.

Graham also says, regarding machine value:

  • The super rare will always appreciate whatever the condition.
  • The super common will appreciate provided the condition is good.
  • The super common in poor condition will never appreciate.
  • Poor restoration markedly reduces the value of any item.


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