It can be a good story for the most part when you research the history of the different sewing machine companies. Many of the old brands have similarities like the men behind the machine and who was the driving force to get those machines to market. Good stories are always interesting to read.
When you want to date the Free Westinghouse sewing machine you have a small window of almost 80 years. The machines were made between 1879 and 1955 although the early machines were not Free Westinghouse. In that case, the window narrows to about 35 years.
To learn more details about the free Westinghouse sewing machine just continue to read our article. It has the information that gets you up to speed on the machines, their value, and their history.
It all started in 1870 when the St. John’s sewing machine company came into existence. The city of origin is not known at this time but for 13 years the company seemed to have some success. Then in 1883, it changed its name to the Royal Sewing Machine Company which lasted for another 14 years.
When the company moved to Rockford, Ill., the name changed once again to the Free Sewing Machine Company after the company president William free. This was in 1897 and the changes seem to be good for the company.
The sewing machines made by Free usually were made for someone else. Mail-order companies, department stores, and other companies that sold sewing machines had theirs made by Free. One example is the Illinois Sewing Machine Company sewing machine.
It was in the 1920s that Westinghouse and Free joined forces and the sewing machines produced at that time were known as the Free Westinghouse. To stay solvent the Free company merged with the New Home Sewing machine company in 1927 and made the latter machines a model name under the Free ownership.
In the 1950s the free company merged again with the National sewing machine company abut that did not help them stay in business. They were bought out in 1954 and ceased to exist.
The key aspect of the Free sewing machines was that their models were based on other more popular models made by larger companies and made no innovative impact on the industry
To date the free Westinghouse models you would need the serial number of the machine, the model number, and the name of the machine to pinpoint its exact date of manufacture.
The problem with dating old machines, especially when they were not made by big companies, is that records get lost and a lot of misinformation gets placed on the internet. We say this because there are a couple of web pages that give out the following address-- New Home Sewing Machine Co, PO Box 25901, Los Angeles 25, California.
The number 25 is outdated and the post office may not deliver your letter. Also, the New Home Sewing Machine Company merged with the Free Sewing Machine Company and it may not have existed after 1927. The same for that address.
The best that can be said is that the free Westinghouse sewing machines were made somewhere between 1926 and 1954 before the company was bought out by a Japanese firm.
There was a lawsuit filed by Westinghouse as the Free company stopped using their motors for their sewing machines. The results of that lawsuit are not known but Westinghouse was able to force Free from using their name.
Getting a complete list of all the Free sewing machines made over the years will be a tough task to get done. There are a few places you can find serial numbers for the different machines.
One website has a few from the new Home Sewing Machine Company and that list goes back to 1879. But, Free did not start making New Home sewing machines until 1927 which would only include the bottom 3 lines of this list.
Other serial numbers are individual ones only and how many they apply to is not known. They may not be known unless some records can be uncovered somewhere. With the companies out of existence and bought by the Japanese, those records could be anywhere.
The original prices are not known. It is safe to say that the sales prices for the different machines went up over the years but remained affordable. Those original sales prices would not have any influence over the value of the machines today.
Some people say that the value of a Free Westinghouse sewing machine lies between $20 and $200 depending on a number of factors. Another expert placed the value at around $300 but that was for a specific model, the 52F with cabinet. Of course, it was in top shape to achieve that price range.
Antique shops may have higher prices placed on their Free Westinghouse machines giving them a little leeway when people want to negotiate. eBay has them for sale between $49 and $220.
That gives you an idea of how much you will pay for any specific model of the free Westinghouse sewing machine.
We were able to find several manuals at our go-to manual websites. There are not a lot of them available at these places, unfortunately. The first place to look would be at this location.
Then you could find a couple more over at this website. Next up is this location and the one they have for sale is a reproduction and not an original owner’s manual. Finally, you can find one on this web page and the price is not very expensive.
It may be possible to do your own search targeting the specific model you own. A general search is not always good as you see some companies do not have a lot of them. Their lack of manuals doesn't mean that the others do not exist. They are just at other websites.
Even though the machines may be old it seems that you can find parts for them without too much trouble. As usual, eBay has a few of them on hand and you may be able to find the part you want at that website. Just make sure to type in free Westinghouse parts to get to the right pages.
Then this website seems to have quite a few parts available and the=re are pictures to look at before you buy. It should be simple to match up through looking at those photos.
You can also try antique shops or sewing repair shops that deal with vintage machines as well. If they do not have them, they may have a name or two as leads for where you can find good parts for sale.
Or a good internet search for the specific part you want may turn up something that is both valuable and inexpensive.
These CC1221, 40F1, Sz 16 needles seem to be the ones that will match up with at least one Free Westinghouse sewing machine. They are found at eBay and the seller is asking about $10 for them.
Then the Thrifty Farm Girl outlet we linked to in the section immediately above did not list any needles on the page we were looking at. But it never hurts to ask. They may also have a name you can go to as your next stop on your search for good Free Westinghouse needles.
Some of the Free Westinghouse and New Home rotary machines used a special short needle. You can find some listed at this link. Contact them if you cannot find what you need for your sewing machine.
Talk to repairmen who specialize in vintage sewing machines. If you can’t find an old one they may be able to direct to yo a modern compatible alternative that will work well in your Free Westinghouse sewing machine.
The story of the Free Westinghouse sewing machines seems to be missing a lot of details. But that is the way it goes with history. If some people do not take an interest in the company and its origins, then those histories are never written or not written well.
Why this company moved 3 times is unknown at this time and may never be known. Its only real claim to fame came when it teamed up with Westinghouse and used its parts to make their machines.
If the company had not done that then it may only have been known as a footnote in sewing machine history. Merging with National would not have brought it any fame.