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Valuations

 

In most cases the value of common models in average condition is close to zero. Unless a machine is something special, or in exceptional condition, then paying for a proper valuation wouldn't be practical as it could well cost more than the worth of the machine.

As a matter of principle I do NOT provide free machine valuations, so please do not ask.

The concept of there being a particular value for a make/model is meaningless and if anyone did provide such a figure it would just be misleading. There are simply so many factors which can each halve or double a basic starting figure. When the effect of all these factors is combined, it can result in a range of more than 10:1 for the same machine. These factors include:

  • the type of seller (specialist dealer, shop, private seller)
  • method of selling (shop, private sale, auction)
  • location of seller (which country, major city or remote area)
  • completeness with original case, attachments, user’s manual etc.
  • condition (cosmetic condition and also if it has been refurbished or not)
  • whether seller will arrange packing and delivery
  • and of course luck !!

Obviously a machine being sold by a private seller at auction is normally going to be a small fraction of the price the same machine would be if bought from a specialist dealer with guarantee through private sale.

It is vital not to make the mistake of over estimating a machine’s condition, or you will only be fooling yourself. People buying vintage machines mainly do so for one of two reasons. They either just want to use it as a work tool at the lowest cost they can get, or they want it as a collector’s piece or a feature machine for decorative purposes. In the first case buyers are only interested in the lowest cost and will compromise on condition etc., but in the latter case condition is everything. Collectors pay substantial premiums for examples that are genuinely in really good ‘original’ condition. However, that premium falls away sharply with even the slightest fault, so that a typical good condition example may be worth half that of a truly perfect example.

It is important to be wary of machines that have been repainted, or otherwise faked. No collector or enthusiast wants a machine that is not original, and so refinished machines are virtually worthless.

Both buyers and sellers need to consider the question of packing and delivery. It is always best if machines can be collected personally, but in most cases that isn’t practical. Where sellers will not arrange delivery then prices are substantially lower, because the chances of a seller finding a buyer are so much less.

Packing a sewing machine for safe delivery is a major task and requires special care. Without this there is a very high chance of damage in transit. A 15kg piece of metal fitted in a flimsy wooden box is a recipe for disaster if it isn’t specially packed. Each time it gets knocked the weight of the machine will act like a massive hammer to smash the case.

It is important to be realistic and to remember that the vast number of common models were made in their millions. Just because they are old, doesn’t mean they have any special value, unless they have something unique about them, or they are in exceptional condition. Few collectors are looking to buy the common models because they already have them, so most of these go to people just wanting the lowest cost machine they can get.

In most cases the value of common models in average condition is close to zero. In reality it can often be hard to find anyone to buy them at any price. Because of this many people prefer to avoid the trouble trying to sell and so they donate their machines to charities who can often collect them.

In the U.K. we suggest contacting ‘Tools For Self Reliance’ (www.tfsr.org). TFSR refurbish sewing machines and other tools, to send as aid to training projects in Africa so that young people there can be taught trade skills. At the completion of their training, students are equipped with a basic set of equipment so that they can then earn a living using their new skills, thus breaking the cycle of unemployment, poverty and the permanent reliance on outside help.