Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Sterling Sewing Machine

While working at on Monday, a customer came into the bar, a friend of mine, Trent, with a huge surprise. He said, "I have something for you." He began to explain how he was driving by a house in Harrisburg, a part of Augusta a few miles away, and he saw that the house was being gutted, everything going to the dump. Trent saw what appeared to be a briefcase, but to his trained eyes, he saw something else. He thought, "that's a sewing machine or a typewriter!" And alas, it was a sewing machine! "Surprise Sally! Here's an awesome sewing machine for you!"
A Sterling sewing machine. In it's original case! After the little bit of information that I found online this morning, I have discovered it is from the 1930s! I was originally guessing it was late 1940s to mid 1950s, but it's much older than I thought. I found two similar machines on eBay that are from the 30s. The ones on eBay are "Sterling De-luxe" models, and there are a few differences between this one and those. But it's basically the same machine. Maybe this one is even older!
The bobbin case is top loading (the bobbin is still there!), and the scratch on this metal plate is one of the only signs of wear and tear on the machine. I can only imagine the garments a mother in the 30s and 40s made on this machine! My imagination is running wild! I absolutely adore things with history. It makes me feel all warm and fuzzy thinking of the things this machine has seen.
I think this is the reverse on the machine. I didn't think machines this old had reverse. It is probably also the way to adjust the length of the stitch. Look closely and you can see me standing at my tripod ha. This machine is so shiny!
Serial number. The electrical cords. I plugged it in and could not get it running, but Trent said he plugged it in and pressed down on the petal and the machine actually worked. I think something came unplugged underneath the machine. I need to take it to a professional and find out more information!
Look how beautiful the gold scrollwork and metal plate is! Things aren't made like the old days. I wonder how much a machine like this originally cost?! It's very similar to the probably more popular Singer Featherweight. Maybe this was like an off brand back then. The similar Singer Featherweight was originally $84 in the 1930s, which would cost over $1,000 today. I guess that explains it's excellent condition. This machine was probably a little cheaper than the Singer. I can't wait to find out more!
The motor. "Universal Motor. 1 AMP. Model 20. 100-115 Volts. 25-75 DC. Made in the US." The belt is even in perfect condition! The case is a very hard cardboard material covered in paper that has seen better days. Maybe it was a machine you'd buy and then later on get the wood cabinet that it sat in. 
It was the best day ever when Trent brought this in! So kind of him to see a sewing machine and pick it up for me! I'm inadvertently starting a collection of antique sewing machines ha. I don't see myself ever using this machine, but what a great thing to own huh?! I don't know what I'll do with it yet. For now I'll do more research.

If anyone knows anything about this machine, please let me know! 
Email me or comment below! 

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  1. This is AWESOME! My great-grandmother gave me her old Singer before she passed away and I think the quality and craftsmanship is absolutely stunning... yours blows hers out of the water!!

  2. Wow Sally, this is an amazing machine!! It look like it's worth some serious money.... I purchased a Necchi sewing machine, cabinet, all parts, manual, even oil from a consignment shop years back for $10. I found out the machine was a 1950's model. Today it's worth about $350 at least. I can imagine what this is worth, even with the case in this condition. I'm at awe....!!!
    Jeff at Jeff's SEwing and Vacuum maybe be able to give you more history on it. He's great with history of machines. Also, Ernest or Ray at Dunnagan's Sewing and Vacuum may be able to give some history as well.
    Best Wishes!!

    BTW, on a different note, I'm doing a giveaway on SMT. Stop by and check it out!

  3. Hi Sally Ann,
    I just bought a Sterling and cannot find any information on it. I am trying to find out who made it and any other information I can. Do you have any links to share about it? My bobbin is a side loading one.

  4. Hello anonymous person--

    I had a very hard time just finding the information I did. Try the library or a sewing machine store that has been open for a long time. This information isn't going to be online since it's so old.
    Good luck!

  5. Sterling was made by the Demorest machine company. More info here:

  6. mark thorpe_thor115632@aol.comNovember 17, 2011 at 10:07 PM

    Hey Sally can you tell me what you have found out about the value of that thing. As I just found one today that someone was throwing away. It is a Sterling Deluxe model in one of those tables that they flip under. You pick up the table top and flip the sewing machine out of it. It is in immaculate condition. The table looks like some kind of rose wood or something. It is very nice and I would like to get some kind of idea of what it is worth. Thanks!

  7. It looks like a 'badged' version of the Singer Spartan sewing machine, which was the 'economy' version of the Singer 99. The Singer 99 was the 3/4 size version of the Singer 66. I have a Singer Spartan machine, and it is awesome. I also have the Singer 99 machine, which I turned into a handcrank machine. You can see both machine by visiting my blog. The handcrank is on the very top of the page, and the Spartan is on the top right hand side column.

    The 'badged' versions of sewing machines were made when the copyrights ran out on Singer machines. Japanese versions were made and sold with no badges on them to retail stores and other companies. Those stores and companies put on their own badges and sold them. That is why you see so many different named sewing machines. It looks like a wonderful machine. I hope you are enjoying it.

  8. I have an old Sterling, but the case broke many many years ago. I also have an old Singer from the 60's. It was my sister's.