The Ultimate Guide to the History, Models, and Value of the White Sewing Machine Update 07/2022

Whether it’s a White sewing machine that you found in your grandmother’s attic or an old machine that you’ve owned for decades, there are several ways to learn how to use them. Regardless, you’re certainly curious about the history of White sewing machines, their current market value, and how to identify the model you own. You’ll learn all about White sewing machines’ history, models, and worth in this guide!

As early as 1858, white sewing machines were developed and sold in America. With a simple but strong design, these machines evolved from cast-iron devices powered by a shuttle-like mechanism to electronic models in the early 1950s. They are now mainly offered as collectibles.

Discover the history of White sewing machines, where you can get one, and how much you can expect to pay for one.

White Sewing Machine

History of White Sewing Machines

White sewing machines were a common sight in many American homes from the late 1800s until the early 1950s. You won’t be able to discover any new White machines on the market nowadays because of their superb craftsmanship.

Founded by Thomas White in 1858, White sewing machines are still in use today. A mere 22 years old, he had to sell one machine at a time to raise the money needed for another one! The White Sewing Machine Company was founded by this young entrepreneur in no time at all.

To keep up with Sears Roebuck’s demand, in the 1920s the company struck an agreement with them and supplied them with sewing machines exclusively for the next decade and more. The Sears catalog was the Amazon.com of the late 1800s and early 1900s, for people who can’t remember buying without the internet. I wouldn’t be surprised if every home, from the Boston suburbs to the icy mountains of Montana, received a Sears catalog every month and utilized it to purchase necessities.

White, of course, had competition. While the simplicity and good craftsmanship of White’s models were appreciated, Singer’s models won out in terms of functionality, quality, and rapid advancement. Despite this, White sewing machines remained popular for many years as a low-cost variant of the domestic sewing machine.

Then World War II shook the country. Production of sewing machines was temporarily halted and White’s plants were employed to produce war supplies. There was a huge demand for sewing machines after the war because no one had been making them for so long.

This was seen as a huge opportunity by the business. New types were introduced, including one that could sew zig-zag stitches. After World War II, Europe’s high-quality appliances arrived in the United States for the first time, bringing a new era of global commerce.

Without this blow, White and other similar businesses would have seen their market share plummet. Then, in quick succession, White lost its arrangement with Sears, which had been the company’s primary source of revenue. In the post-war era, it also lost its position as the primary provider of economy machines in the United States due to an influx of exceptionally low-cost Japanese models.

Except for Singer, practically all domestic sewing machine firms had gone out of business by the 1960s.

White merged with Husqvarna Viking in the 1960s. Today, you may still get your hands on a Husqvarna Viking machine. You’ll have to do some research on older models if you’re looking for a genuine White machine.

White rotary sewing machine

White, unlike Singer, did not develop a large number of models over the years. White’s most popular models were the rotary ones they created in the 1950s.

Not every White model ever produced over the company’s more than a century of existence is included in this list. Some of the best moments can be seen below.

A vibrating shuttle was employed in the first popular White versions. To describe the movement of thread, the word “vibrating shuttle” might be used.

Sewing machines used to be powered by hand cranks or foot treadles prior to the invention of electricity. Have you ever seen an old film where someone used a foot peddle to operate an old cast-iron machine? For many decades, these treadle-powered devices were the first household sewing machines.

These late 1800s White versions like the “White Gem” have a higher monetary value today because of their limited manufacturing.

After advances in technology, the vibrating shuttle model was replaced with one that turned the bobbin (similar to how bobbins function today!).

Although succeeding variants were powered by electricity, not a foot peddle, the White Family Rotary Sewing Machine was still in production into the 1950s. For the most part, rotary White machines are the most often available for sale because of their high production numbers and long-term popularity. A rotary-powered White variant, the Model 77, was also widely used during this period.

In addition to Kenmore and Franklin, White produced a number of other models after signing an agreement with Sears. Look for these names in the product listings to discover if they’re White or not.

Sears sold a White model called the Franklin, which was built in the United States and is still for sale today.

White sewing machines were no more after the company amalgamated with Husqvarna-Viking, as you may have guessed.

White Sewing Machine Models by Year

Are White Sewing Machines Worth Money Today?

White sewing machines can be found for anywhere from $10 to $150 on eBay or at antique shops these days. Although it is possible to find models worth thousands of dollars, this is extremely rare and depends on a variety of circumstances, including the model’s age, the materials it was originally made of and its current condition.

It’s important to remember that, aside from a few of really rare examples, most vintage sewing machines aren’t all that valuable to begin with.

How to Identify the Model of a White Sewing Machine

To find out what kind of computer you have, simply follow these simple instructions.

Now that White has gone out of business, it’s becoming more difficult to get information about their models. To begin, discover the brand name of your model (remember, White appliances were sometimes sold by their subsidiary names of Kenmore and Franklin!).

The serial number can be found by doing so. A serial number should be carved onto the bottom, back, or side of every sewing machine. For electric models, you may be able to locate the serial number on the motor or its case.

Try searching for your serial number and “White sewing machine” on Google. About a site like this one, you’ll likely find information on a wide range of brands and models.

It’s rather easy to locate a copy of the original owner’s handbook on the internet if you know the model number. Finally, you can contact the Husqvarna-Viking firm directly and ask for a list of White models and serial numbers.

Are Antique Sewing Machines Valuable?

With a few notable exceptions, the majority of vintage sewing machines are not worth much money. To qualify as a “antique,” your machine must have been created more than 100 years ago. The term “vintage” refers to items that have been produced during the last decade or so. The phrases may be used interchangeably in places like eBay, but that’s to be expected).

There are a variety of types and pricing to choose from when you search eBay for “White sewing machine.” The prices often range from $20 to $100. For example, the rotary 77 model is one of the most popular models from the company’s golden age.

However, the value does not have to be monetary. Despite its age, you may still be able to use your old or vintage machine. Many individuals appreciate the workhorse features of older White models, which aren’t particularly flashy but are built to last! You could use a classic White model for many more years if you took good care of it.

Many people utilize ancient sewing machines as decorative accents because they were often integrated into tables or cabinets. End tables, beverage cabinets, and even tiny islands in the heart of your cooking area are all possible with this gorgeous furniture!

Why Can’t I Buy a New White Sewing Machine?

Because White is no longer in business, you cannot purchase a new sewing machine. During the 1950s, the corporation found itself in a predicament. After World War II, high-quality European versions became available, while low-quality Japanese models dominated the bottom end of the market.

New Husqvarna-Viking machines are still available, but the internet sewing community is divided on their quality. Modern, basic Singer sewing machines are a good choice if you are looking for an old-fashioned White sewing machine with all the bells and whistles.

Can I Buy a Vintage White Sewing Machine?

Vintage and antique White sewing machines can be easily purchased. Everywhere from antique shops to yard sales, you’ll find popular rotary models.

Where to Shop for a White Sewing Machine

There are some great deals to be had on eBay and Craigslist if you prefer to buy online.

Because the store owners clean them up and sometimes even get them working again, you may expect to pay more while looking for antiques in a physical store. Alternatively, if you want to purchase at discount stores like Goodwill or Salvation Army, you can do so.

What to Know When You Buy Vintage Sewing Machine

Before purchasing a vintage machine, make sure you understand how to appraise it, examine its intended usage, and test it for functionality. Regardless of where you decide to shop, keep these questions in mind.

How Can You Determine the Value of the Antique?

A neat and unfading paint and embellishments on most White models today won’t fetch a high price for most, so keep this in mind when inspecting the machine. Are the wood components, if included in a table or cabinet, in acceptable condition?

If you have access to the model and serial number information provided by the vendor, or if you can physically inspect the model to discover the serial number, you can conduct more research.

You can tell more about the capabilities of a machine if you know when it was built. Can it sew a zig-zag stitch, for example? In addition, you’ll be able to obtain a sense of how much this model is currently worth.

Why Do You Want a Vintage Sewing Machine?

Take a moment to reflect about why you desire the machine. To be used as an end table, the cabinet and legs must be in good shape, but the machine must not be in working order. To be clear, if you intend to use the vintage sewing machines for sewing, you need to know if they are functional.

How did you come to this conclusion? Do a few basic tests if you’re shopping in person.

To begin, the handwheel and foot treadle should move smoothly up and down. Needles and bobbins vibrate or rotate in response to this action. If you can observe all of these pieces moving in unison, the machine is most likely still in working order!

Look for cracks, holes, or apparent missing pieces to see if they can be found. Look for rust as well if you want to keep your vehicle in peak condition.

if the machine is newer than the 1940s or 1960s, inspect the power cord for signs of fraying. To watch what occurs, if feasible, ask to plug it in!

Can I Still Use My White Sewing Machine?

After decades of usage, many individuals report that their White sewing machines (with proper care) are still operating!

Pros and Cons of Vintage Sewing Machines

A machine that demands plenty of foot pedalling or hand cranking may have you wondering why you would want to use it. It’s true that a non-electric model isn’t the best choice for your primary machine. However, if your newer machine can’t handle a heavy-duty project, you may want to keep an older White model on hand as a backup.

Older sewing machines had the advantage of being manufactured entirely of metal rather than plastic, which is a huge benefit while sewing. This type of craftsmanship is known to last a long time.

Because of this, vintage machines can sew through thicker fabrics than many current ones can. When sewing denim or canvas, you may require a specific machine or at the absolute least, special needles.

On the other hand, even if pre-computer equipment are in fine working order, they often have far fewer features than contemporary counterparts. A straight stitch might be all your ancient sewing machine can do.

Tips for Using a Vintage Sewing Machine

The most important thing to remember from this essay is to clean your vintage machine before you do anything else! As time goes on, fibers and dust build up in older machines, causing them to malfunction.

A thorough cleaning will remove any material that could interfere with its performance. No matter how old your sewing machine is, this is always true! The bobbin region requires special attention; however, see the owner’s manual for information on how to clean the engine and other important components.

Once the machine has been cleaned, it will require oiling. It is possible to purchase the necessary oil over the internet or at any local craft store. Again, consult the owner’s handbook to determine which parts require oiling and which do not, but in general, every metal item that moves should be oiled.

Polishing and oiling may be necessary on a cast-iron machine.

For those of you who have a vintage machine, here are some pointers for sewing:

  • Learn how to thread the needle and wind the bobbin. If you’re having difficulty stitching, it’s likely that the bobbin or needle aren’t threaded correctly. This should be clearly explained in the owner’s manual!
  • What size bobbin and needle are you looking for? A modern needle may not function well in a vintage machine if you try to install it.
  • Keep your fingers away from the needle and begin carefully. Please be aware that it may take some time to become used to operating your equipment.
  • In contrast to Singer models, many White models work backwards. A White model’s hand crank, for example, must be rotated in the opposite way of a Singer machine in order to be usable
  • You can save the life of your electric sewing machine by unplugging it when you aren’t using it!

White Sewing Machine vs Singer Sewing Machine

White or Singer, which is better? In order to answer this question, you must know what the machine will be used for. While White machines were still being manufactured decades ago, Singer machines were believed to be of a higher quality. White models were inexpensive, long-lasting, and basic.

White models, on the other hand, were known for their high-quality tables and cabinets. The furniture was created in-house by the company, and they were proud of the high quality of these wood components. When it comes to old machines, White may be the best option if you’re just looking for something to display.

It is impossible to generalize about the capabilities of White vs. Singer machines. The Singer brand has historically been regarded as significantly superior. You’ll undoubtedly think of all older machines as being somewhat limited, since many of them can only sew a single straight stitch..

Singing, on the other hand–and this is crucial–remains a major and popular sewing brand until today. Finding old parts and information for a vintage Singer model is a lot easier than it would be for a White machine of the same era.

It’s unclear whether or not White sewing machines are good. They are long-lasting and can be used for many years to come. It’s possible that Singer models might be a little better in general.

How Can I Repair My White Sewing Machine?

You don’t have to know anything about electronics or computers to fix an outdated item, which is one of the best things about it.

Clean and lubricate your White machine if it’s not working. It is best to consult the owner’s manual for instructions on how to perform basic repairs if that fails.

Is there anything you can do if your old equipment doesn’t have a manual? Fortunately, most tiny machine instructions can be found online these days! The sewing community has made the most popular patterns available in PDF form online. Previously, Singer provided access to White manuals on their Support page, but they no longer do so.

What if you run out of White machine parts? On eBay and Etsy, you’ll find a lot.

However, parts for some White machines, particularly the shuttles and bobbins, might be difficult to locate. No other antique machines, such as those made by the Singer company, will work with these components.

Here are some of the most popular solutions for your old computer:

  • Before doing any repairs on your electric model, check sure it is unplugged completely.
  • Moving parts should be lubricated! Even though you’ve heard that phrase a million times before, it’s still true. Everything might benefit from a thorough cleaning!
  • Make sure the needle and bobbin are properly set up. This is one of the most common causes of all difficulties, so be aware of this. Make sure that your needle and bobbin are clean and ready to go before you start sewing.
  • Check the needle if you keep getting a lot of missing stitches in your knitting. It is possible to sew with a needle that is crooked, dull, or weakly attached.
  • If your thread breaks mid-sewing, be sure you use the same thread for the needle and the bobbin as you used for the fabric. Because not every thread will work on a vintage machine, be sure you’ve chosen the suitable weight.
  • Before assuming the motor needs to be repaired on an electric model, make sure the outlet, power strip, and cord are all working properly.
  • If you discover a problem with the wiring, you may have to hire a professional to fix it.

White machines can last for decades or perhaps more than a century if they are properly maintained. But in order for an older model to continue working, you must follow these easy maintenance guidelines. Sewing on a vintage machine will be a treat if you do!

Conclusion

In the realm of antique sewing machines, you’ll find a fascinating combination of curiosities and functional tools. In spite of their low resale value, many White sewing machines are still in good working order after all these years.

Does anyone know where I may get hold of an ancient White sewing machine? Let us know if you’ve had any luck with these old devices in the comments section below!

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