Are Some Featherweights Harder to Find Than Others?
by Christian Henry
Some Featherweights are certainly harder to find than others, but how much harder? In certain areas all Featherweights may be "scarce", but internet sales have made standard Featherweights much more available. This post will address not only how many Featherweights were made each year, but also, what is considered a "Rare" Featherweight and how difficult some are to find.
Below is a chart showing when Featherweight production was at its highs and lows.
This chart displays Singer's production output of the black Featherweight. Manufacturing greatly slowed down and even came to a halt during WW2, but it soon rose to its height in the early 1950s. You can use this chart as a quick way to determine how easy or difficult it will be to find a Featherweight from a certain year. It is also clear as to why the 222 Featherweights are harder to come by; however, in some years like 1959, it will be easier to find a 222 than a 221.
What about the White and Tan Featherweights?
Unfortunately, the records are not accurate or complete regarding the history of the White and Tan Featherweights, so we do not know the totals of how many were made, and much less how many were made each year. Click here to view the chart showing the known production runs of those Featherweights; there are some general dates.
What constitutes a "Rare" Featherweight?
Here at the Featherweight Shop, we do on occasion give out the title of "Rare" to certain Featherweights. We consider a rare Featherweight to be one of limited or even singular quantity, usually, a machine that we have only ever owned, sold or seen a small handful of. Below are the "Rare" Featherweights that we have sold or owned here at the Featherweight Shop. They are sorted by value and not necessarily how difficult it is to come by each one.
(We will be focusing on just the rare machines and not rare accessories like rare cases, original boxes or foot controllers.)
Fabrique En Grande Bretagne: Retail Value Approx. $1000-1400
These 221 machines were made in the Kilbowie Scotland factory and sold in French-speaking Europe. Not every Featherweight sold in France had this special decal, but it has been seen on 221K machines in both 1950 and 1951. The value of these machines is slightly lower than that of the Blackside or Top Decal Featherweights because they are not as well-known.
Top Decal Featherweight: Retail Value* Approx. $1200-1600
The "Top Decal" Featherweight features the "Singer" decal on the top of the neck instead of the light housing. Whether this was on purpose or accident is unknown, but these odd Featherweights are indeed hard to come by.
M.R. Decal Featherweight: Retail Value Approx. $1500-1900
The M.R. Featherweights have a peculiar and relatively unknown history. Based on the M.R. decals, they were marketed to South America and Latin America, and Spanish speaking parts of the world. Some were manufactured in the UK and some in the US, but they frequently have motors from Canada.
Blackside Featherweight: Retail Value Approx. $1500-2000
The Blackside Featherweights are unique because they are made rare by their parts instead of decals or the badge like most other Rare Featherweights. Click here to read about the Blackside Featherweight.
Made in USA Featherweights: Retail Value Approx: $1600-2000
Aren't most Featherweights made in the US? Yes, but we have only seen a very small handful that have the "Made in USA" decal underneath the badge. This machine was fitted with a 220v motor and appears to have been sold in Brazil.
M. Ind. Rgtrda Featherweights: Retail Value Approx. $1600-2000
These rare Featherweights were destined to be sold in Mexico. Based on a bulletin from the US Trade Mark Association, the "M. Ind. Rgtrda." stood for Marca Industrial Registrada. This trademark type was used exclusively in Mexico at the time.
"Made in Canada" Decal Featherweights: Retail Value Approx. $2000
We have only had one of these machines here at the Featherweight shop, and very little is known about them. This machine was made in the US but sold in Canada with the "Made in Canada" decal. Some of the parts on the machine like the motor were possibly made in Canada so that Singer could add that decal and circumvent import charges.
First 200 1933 Featherweights: Retail Value Approx $2000-4000+
The infamous "first 200" Featherweights ever produced are very hard to come by and extremely desirable - Featuring very rare components, decals, and designs.
1939 Golden Gate Featherweights: Retail Value Approx. $3000-5000
The machines that Singer sold at the Golden Gate Expo in 1939 had a commemorative badge. Rare and desirable, these machines are very valuable. Click here to read more about the history of the Golden Gate Expo Featherweights. There are 39 of these machines know to have been found as of 3/25/2020.
1940 Golden Gate Featherweights: Retail Value Approx. $3300-6000
Similar to 1939 the machines that Singer sold at the Golden Gate Expo in 1940 had a commemorative badge. These machines are very valuable, and we have observed slightly less of these machines than 1939 ones. Click here to read more about the history of the Golden Gate Expo Featherweights. There are 23 of these machines known to have been found of 3/25/2020
Wrinkle Finish Featherweights: Retail Value Approx. $3500-6000
It is very easy to spot the difference in a "Wrinkle" Featherweight. Thes machines can be found in 1939 and 1940. Click here to read more about these mysterious Featherweights.
1934 Chicago Worlds Fair Featherweights: Retail Value Approx. $6000-$10000
The Singer Featherweight debuted at the Chicago World's Fair, so these rare Featherweights hold a special place in all collectors' hearts. Often called the "Holy Grail" of Featherweights, we have only had four here at the Featherweight Shop. Click Here to read more about the history of the CWF Featherweights. There are 29 of these machines known to have been found as of 3/25/2020.
1936 Texas Centennial Featherweights: Retail Value Approx. $8000-15000
As the demand for these machines has gone up, the price has as well. We have only had three of these very rare Featherweights here at the Featherweight shop. Click Here to read more about these machines that commemorated Texas' 100 years of independence from Mexico. There are a total of 16 of these machines known to have been found as of 3/25/2020.
To further determine how "Rare" each of these machines are as well as charting the history, we need your help! If you have one of the machines above, we would greatly appreciate it if you are able to send us your machine's serial number, a photo, and any history you can provide. The specific information from your machine will help us to provide accurate data about when these rare machines were produced as well as when and where they were sold.
*A special thanks to Tre Perry and J.C. Elliott for compiling this list of known rare-badged Featherweights.