I saw this on another site recently and thought it might be helpful to post here.
Vintage sewing machines are becoming popular for both home sewing enthusiasts and antique collectors. The reason for this is because they serve as both a decorative piece and also a functional machine. Known to be workhorses, vintage sewing machines are well made and some models are in high demand.
Here are a few tips for buying your own vintage sewing machine.
1. Don't spend too much.
Many sellers believe that Grandma's sewing machine must be worth over $100 since it is an antique. Maybe it is worth that much, but the majority of machines found in yard sales and thrift stores are not worth more than $20. Learn the names and model numbers of the few that are worth big bucks by checking prices on ebay, then assume that all others are not worth a high price. Currently, the Singer Featherweight 221 fetches the most money on ebay with an average selling price of about $300. Most other machines are worth less than $50 with the majority valued at around $20.
2. Check the condition of the machine.
Carefully inspect the underside, the wiring, bed, and bobbin case of the machine. If you see rust, frayed or exposed wiring, or notice there are pieces missing, then think twice before making the purchase. Often the cost of repairs or replacement parts can be as much as the machine itself. It may be better to wait until the next one comes along and hope that one is in great shape.
3. Take inventory.
What is included in the sale? Decide if the machine comes with the right amount of attachments, bobbins, and instruction manuals. If these things are important to you then it's good to take that into consideration when deciding whether or not to buy the sewing machine.
4. Keep looking.
If the don't find the vintage sewing machine of your dreams today, keep an eye on Craigslist, your local newspaper classifieds and the local thrift store. With a little patience you will find the vintage machine of your dreams.