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Thread: How do you assess the value of a vintage machine?

  1. #1
    Super Member jillaine's Avatar
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    How do you assess the value of a vintage machine?

    Whether buying or selling, what elements of a machine's condition go into the price?

    The range of prices out there is so broad. How do you calculate what's a reasonable price?
    jillaine

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    Super Member newbee3's Avatar
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    use common sense and don't expect to get top dollar in these times. and if buying try the barter

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    This is based on what I've seen from watching eBay for a few years - but it is just my opinion.

    First I look at general demand for the particular model. For what ever reason, some have a bit of a cult following, and sell for more. From what I've seen, this is the major determining factor in price.

    Generally, European machines sell for more than US and Japan ones (Bernina, Viking, Pfaff).

    For the most part, Singers sell for more than other US made machines, though Antique New Homes seem to sell for a bit more.

    Two Spool, Featherweight and now 301's typically sell higher, though FW seems to be decline and prices on the other two are on the rise.

    Attachments, bobbin cases/shuttles, controllers and cords for machines other than Singer can really affect price. I don't include Singer because it's easy to get replacement items (vintage or new stock). Some of the others, if you don't get it with the machine, you may never see them unless you are willing to buy a donor machine that has them.

    Other than if you have something that is truly collectable - general condition (as long as it's decent) does not seem to have as big of affect on price. Fully serviced machines add to the value for electric machines, but not as much for treadles. Most are worried the motor/wires are fried, so it's not so much that it will make a great stitch, but that it won't short out the first time it's plugged in.
    My name is Cathy - and I'm addicted to old sewing machines and their attachments.

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    Super Member jillaine's Avatar
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    Cathy, thank you for sharing your experience. What you say about general condition seems to align with what I'm seeing. I see some machines that look great, but aren't priced that high; then I'll see something that looks absolutely awful, condition-wise, going for 5x the price. Fascinating.
    jillaine

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    Super Member Cari-in-Oly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jillaine View Post
    Cathy, thank you for sharing your experience. What you say about general condition seems to align with what I'm seeing. I see some machines that look great, but aren't priced that high; then I'll see something that looks absolutely awful, condition-wise, going for 5x the price. Fascinating.
    And don't forget, what someone is asking for a machine isn't necessarily what they're going to get for it. Some people think that any old sewing machine is a "rare and valuable" antique(usually far from the truth). Others put a high price on sentiment(it was great grammas). Others look at high asking prices on Ebay and think their machine must be worth that much.
    If you watch Craigslist for any length of time you'll begin to see the same over priced machines over and over, these are the ones who refuse to come down to a realistic price for whatever reason.
    And sometimes you just get lucky. I had a Singer 401 on CL for $50 a while back and got no bites. As soon as I raised the price to $75 I sold it that day.

    Cari

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    "Perceived value" is an interesting phenomenon. If it's priced too cheap..."What's wrong with it?"

    My DH works in the wine industry - if a winery has some wine that isn't selling well, they often INCREASE the price and that will stimulate sales. That seems so crazy to me! He gets a lot of high priced wine for free (bottles retailing for $100 or more) and it's often not very good at all - I wouldn't pay even $10 for some of it. Maybe I'm just a "cheap date". LOL

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    Super Member Cari-in-Oly's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sewnoma View Post
    "Perceived value" is an interesting phenomenon. If it's priced too cheap..."What's wrong with it?"
    Right you are. I usually ask that question anyway, just to see what the sellers' reaction will be.

    I have to say though, I've paid more for machines that made my heart go pitter patter. I guess after all is said and done, the same old saying rings true - a sewing machine(or anything for that matter) is worth whatever a person is willing to pay for it on any given day.

    Cari

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    Senior Member Jeanette Frantz's Avatar
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    I would have to "guess" if I needed to know the worth of a machine -- my son has bought two for me that have been real bargains -- one a White FW, no case or attachments, but $50, in pristine condition is I think, a good buy. I works great! Then, he bought a Singer 403A for $41 - again, no attachments, but I've got some slant-needle machines with a full box of attachments, and I've been fortunate in finding the ones I didn't have. In general, I don't collect machines, but I love viewing the old/vintage/antique machines, and sometimes I inherit one or two. I did find one for my cousin several months ago, but she paid for it! Now, I need to finish cleaning it up and renewing the shellac!

    Jeanette

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    I go by what prices usually are for that machine...the condition(I need them working since I dont' do that kinda thing), if the decals and other stuff looks nice..if it has 'goodies' with it..if it has a cabinet, nice case...and just plain 'do I like it this much or am I likely to find one with better decals...)
    Susanna

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    Same thing in real estate. I've seen houses sale price increased and gone. Often they believe something has been repaired or another part has been located for it.
    Quote Originally Posted by Sewnoma View Post
    "Perceived value" is an interesting phenomenon. If it's priced too cheap..."What's wrong with it?"

    My DH works in the wine industry - if a winery has some wine that isn't selling well, they often INCREASE the price and that will stimulate sales. That seems so crazy to me! He gets a lot of high priced wine for free (bottles retailing for $100 or more) and it's often not very good at all - I wouldn't pay even $10 for some of it. Maybe I'm just a "cheap date". LOL

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