Antique Singer Sewing Machine - Model No. 15

Above is a photo of an antique Singer sewing machine, a family heirloom. My mother passed it to me; she got it from her father. The original owner was his mother -- my great-grandmother. Until recently, I didn't know too much else about the machine other than my mother and grandmother did actually use it for home sewing and that it would probably still work, if it had a belt. The machine shows a good bit of wear -- a good portion of the gold detail is missing from the front and some of the pieces are a bit rusted. I suspect it may have spent a good deal of time stored in the attic or garage once it was replaced by an electric model. The cabinet is in very good condition.

I received this piece when I moved to my current home in 1998. I always intended to do some research about the machine, find a belt and maybe restore it to working condition, but I've never gotten around to doing all that. I did go through the accessories and mount them in a shadowbox which is displayed in the same room where the sewing machine resides (also known as my "Westie Wing"; conventionally known as "the formal living room" where there is very little activity).

The manual identifies this as Singer Sewing Machine No. 15 (with Attachments No.35918) Lock Stitch, for Family Use. The inside of the cover indicates a copyright date of 1915 and shows a picture of the machine stand (and also identifies the machine as having an oscillating shuttle):

I've done a quick search online for more information about antique Singer sewing machines. I discovered that the serial number could identify the place and time period the machine was manufactured. The serial number on my machine begins with a G5xxxxxx -- this indicates it was made between 1916-1918 in Elizabeth, NJ (search for International Sewing Machine Collectors Society). It seems this particular model was very popular.

From the Singer Sewing Co. website, Serial Number support page (active page link no longer exists) - G Series listing of Register numbers: This machine was "born" on January 3, 1918 and was part of a lot of 50,000 model 15 machines. Visit the Singer website and search for "serial number" to find the manufacture dates; visit their Support page for manuals and how to find the model number.

At the time I was searching for information (November 2007), I also found a couple of eBay listings with virtually the identical cabinet which is described as being a 7-drawer cabinet, made from tiger oak with Art Nouveau carvings.

Some other informative links: (I'll add to the list if I find any others:
I've also discovered that there exists an Encyclopedia of Early American and Antique Sewing Machines -- I will have to look for a copy the next time I am book shopping. Maybe I'll find more details!

Parting shot: Several years ago I stitched this counted cross stitch design called Sew Many Memories by Sue Hillis designs. It's not an exact replica, but it's a pretty good likeness. 

updated: Oct-19-2020


  1. Hi Donna, I love your machine. I watched my grandmother sew on one like it 50 years ago. I now own one very similar, but it has been made into an electric one, by the addition of a motor, etc. and does work. What a treasure. I like the shadowbox you made from the accessories and the cross-stitch is wonderful. There is just a wonderful nostalgic feel in having one of these around, and yours is beautifully displayed. Thanks for sharing. Lyvonne in Tucson

  2. Donna,
    I was recently given a No. 15 machine very similar to yours by my godmother. It's in excellent condition except for a broken belt. Thanks so much for posting your research efforts. I'm hoping it will help me find info on mine and maybe I can get a replacement belt.

    Let's go Mets!!

  3. I recently picked up my mothers sewng machine similar to yours works like a charm we did find a belt for it and it purrs like a kitten good luck finding the belt...youwill enjoy ti

  4. The belts are available through Singer. You can get it on line for about $12.

    1. Where do you find the serial number on the machines and where do I find belts

  5. we had a machine similaar to yours but it is number 13, it doesnt work anymore. we just put it asside now... joey

  6. amazing! I have one very similar but built in 1906. My mother used to ride on the treadle when her grandmother was sewing. Now my daughter uses it for her computer desk. I am very slowly restoring it.


  7. i have one similar a 15k built in 1901 looks and works good. would like to know the value of it.

  8. I have received a similar machine from my soon to be father in law. The leather belt is also broken so I am trying to replace it. Also my user manual is in Italian :( as I don't speak Italian It is not much use to me. Any chance any of you have a user manual in English you would be willing to copy and share with me? I would appreciate it!

  9. Hi my name is Wendy and I just found a singer that looks allot like yours. But is in very poor shape. I hope to have my mom and dad help me fix it up.If you could give me any info on this machine it would be great. You can hit me up on my email wmforest@yahoo.Thanks in advance for all your help

  10. What are these sewing machines worth - ours works well.
    The Wrights

  11. For those looking for a monetary value on their machines: I don't have the expertise to provide appraisal values on any sewing machine, but you may find helpful info on this web page: About the Values of Antique Singer Sewing Machines

  12. Hi Donna I was just looking at how beautiful you have kept your machine.. I've just recentley been given one exsactly like yours and I was trying to figure out what year it was and I ran into yours. I am also looking for a belt so I can try and use it,.. My boyfriend got it for me and It still has all the parts, from bobbins to very old sewing needles and pins.. Im so happy with my machine I just want to see if I can find that belt so I can use it.. mabey you can help me.. thanks so much... Stella..

  13. Hi Stella - congratulations on your new old machine! I hope you will have fun with it.

    I still have not done any restoration work on my machine, so have not yet looked for the belt.

    Have you tried searching sewing blogs? There are lots of folks who have restored old machines and blogged about it. Here's one I especially like, from Stitches and Seams: New to Me.

    Best of luck to you!

  14. Hi Donna, my sister has the same machine but no instructions and needs to know how to thread the machine. Since you have the book, perhaps you could email of copy of the instructions she needs to my email address:


  15. Hi Sharon M,
    My instruction book is currently mounted inside a shadow box and is not easily accessible at this time. I don't have copies of any of the pages that I can share. However, I did find a blog with links to Singer online manuals and have added the link to my original post. Try this link: Vintage Sewing Machines: Singer Online Manuals

  16. I have recently gotten this same sewing machine from my grandmother. Unfortunately I have no information on it like when it was built or what model it is. Im guessing it is this model since they are so similar. My mother and I are curious to know though how much a sewing machine like this is worth? We have no intention of selling it and would like to be able to keep passing it down as many generations as we can but we cant help but wonder.

  17. I just recently acquired one that looks the same. I found a site that I was able to date the machine back to 1879. There are no letters in the serial number. The number is in the 3,200,000 range. Any idea if 1879 is right? And what the value might be

  18. I guess you won´t read this, but wanted to share that I have a class 15 almost identical. Same wood carvings, 7 drawers, but the middle drawer in mine does not have the details, is plain. Same tiffany multicolor decals... mine is from 1925.


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