No one made sewing machines like Singer did back in the old days. Their sewing machine models were some of the most copied ones around. All over the world, the different smaller sewing machine companies used the Singer models as their template until they learned the business and started making their own models.
The 401 A was not in production for a very long period. It lasted maybe 4 to 5 years before it was replaced by another model. Singer needed a sewing machine to compete with all the Japanese models flooding the market and the 401A was it.
To learn more about the 401A Singer sewing machine, just continue to read our article. It delves a little into the history of this sewing machine model and tries to explain why it is still a good machine 70 years later.
It is going to be as much as you are willing to pay for it. No matter what value the seller places on the model and no matter what price they put on it, if it is too high then you just need to make a counteroffer.
The range of price will vary from state to state, seller to seller and antique shops tend to place a higher value and price on their models than other sellers do. Those sewing machine repair shops may place a high price on them as well but they are factoring in parts and labor as well as historical and vintage value.
The best place to see a good price on these old machines will be yard and garage sales or a motivated seller using the classified ads. Plus, you never know when you stumble across a good deal from a friend or relative.
At the time of this writing, we saw one 401A on sale at eBay for $300. One sewing machine is not enough to establish true value though. That figure may be the high-end limit as it looked to be in top condition.
The low range is roughly around $40 to 50 with quite a few models in between those two limits. This is good for those looking to buy a 401A but not good news for those who want to sell theirs.
While this is a good sewing machine and a real workhorse, there are just too many more like this model made by other companies. Thus the value is not going to be there anymore.
The condition and the number of machines in the production also weigh heavy on the value and you may get more if you simply disassemble it and sell the parts.
Unfortunately, that information seems to be lost to time and history. No one is talking about the original price of this sewing machine and instead, focuses more on the modern value. it is the modern value that most people are interested in.
What they sold for originally is only for those trivia buffs who may want to win their round of any trivia game they like to play. Let us just say that a modern tune-up on any sewing machine today will cost as much, if not more than the original price for the 401A. Those tune-ups range between $75 and $100.
That is one of the best aspects of days gone by. Not only did you get machines that lasted a lifetime, but they also were not expensive to buy. It is sort of double the value for the money you had to pay. But the original price would still be considered expensive given the wages of the post-war era.
This is not going to be a hard task to do. Craigslist and other classified ads will have these sewing machines on sale from time to time. it is like going to eBay as you never know when one will be listed and both sources need to be checked regularly.
Also, friends and families may have one they want to get rid of. It is good to cover all the bases before heading off to vintage sewing machines for sale shops, repair shops, and antique stores.
Some people have been able to find their models at thrift stores or garage, estate and yard sales along with flea markets. There really is no end to where you can find one of these sewing machines for sale.
If you can get one cheap don’t pass it up as parts are just as easy to find. Singer may just help you out on that with their parts department at their website.
Having your 401A in a nice cabinet will add to the value of your sewing machine as long as both are in good condition. The nice thing about the 401A is that it was very versatile and flexible.
The machine was able to be fit in a variety of different cabinets no matter the style and the wood used. One person picked a 401A up that was placed in an old school cabinet. It looked nice but not as nice as some of the real wood options this sewing machine has been found in.
The cabinets ranged from 2 drawers in the middle to one drawer in the middle and 4 on each side of the sewer. They also came in light-colored as well as dark color stains. You name it and there is a cabinet for this sewing machine. Plus, you can even build your own if you want.
There is not much history to this machine and not because it was a bad machine. But because it had a very limited run. Singer built a new factory in 1950 in Anderson, SC specifically to manufacture aluminum-bodied, slant needle sewing machines.
The sewing machine was produced from 1957 to 61 and was replaced by the 403A in 1958 and that model only lasted till 1960. When the last 503A was made at the Anderson plant, the facility was used to make power tools until about 1988 when it was sold to Ryobi company of Japan.
But for the 401A life was as normal as a Leave It To Beaver or Father Knows Best family. There is nothing exotic or groundbreaking that came with this sewing machine. Its best claim to fame is that many of its models are still running almost 60 years later.
As we just stated in the last section, the 401A was made between 1957 and 1961. The machines were usually given three different double letters at the beginning of their serial numbers. There were the NA, NB, & NC letters, and these letters were also used for different sewing machines made at the Anderson plant.
An ‘A’ was placed at the end of the model number to indicate that it was made at the Anderson plant.
The production dates have already been established but if you really want to know the exact age of your 401A, here is a list of serial numbers, their from and to numbers as well as the year those serial numbers were given out:
1957 NA500000 NA900000
1958 NB300001 NB600000
1959 NB700001 NB800000
1960 NB800001 NB900000
1961 NC000001 NC100000
All you have to do is locate the serial number on your machine and that may be underneath it near the needle plate or somewhere close to that position. Then check these dates and numbers to see the exact year your model was made.
Knowing the exact date will help you set a good value for your machine as long as you do some good research and use the right comparables. Just keep in mind that value is very subjective and your idea may not necessarily meet up with a potential buyer’s idea of the value.
To be honest, we have never used a 401A sewing machine but our research has indicated that for the most part, it was a very good machine. There are a lot more people liking this sewing machine than we found disliking it.
It was a simply designed machine that was given all metal parts which is always a good combination. Plus, many people have reported owning and finding ones in top shape that still work 60 years later.
That Longevity testimony helps provide the 401A with a good reputation. It also builds up a desire to own one in the hearts of many sewers. During our research, we did not log too many complaints about the model. But this machine was not perfect and it had its faults.
Those faults just did not overshadow the positive points of this sewing machine.
When it comes to competitions like this one, the end result is always subjective. But in one person’s opinion, the 403A was the better machine as it had all the fancy stitch patterns, easy to clean, and easy to use, especially the drop-in bobbin.
Plus, it may have been better organized than the 401A in terms of features and their control placement. The 401A looks as complicated to use as the 400 whereas the simplified 403A was much easier to handle especially for beginners.
In the long run, though, the 403A may not have had the longevity that the 401A enjoys.
The lift top lid on the 500A is unique as it streamlines the sewing machine and hides the spool pin when closed. For some reason, Singer decided to move the pin to the middle of the 500A from the back position where it was on on the 401A.
The 500A seems as complicated to use as the 401A is but it looks to have fewer dials to turn than the latter model. Both are said to be the top of the line for their respective series and that fact draws many comparisons between the two.
The biggest difference between these two sewing machine models is that the 401A was built in America at the Anderson plant. The 401G was built in Germany and given German characteristics.
They both use the class 66 bobbin size and the direct-drive motor. The bobbin winder was on the top of the 401G but it seems not to be there for the 401A. The latter of the two had a slant needle while the former seems to have the standard or traditional design.
Finally, the 401G was lighter in weight than the 401A and the 401A had a double-needle decorative topstitch.
The 404 sewing machine only has a few differences from the original 301 model. There is a drop-in bobbin, spool spindle on top, the elevated throat plate and that is it for the upgrades. Also, the 404 is supposed to be a straight stitcher.
The throat plate seems to be standard with the Rockateer series. The bobbin winder folds up nicely on the 404. If you look at both machines the 404 is a very basic design that keeps everything nice and simple.
It won’t match up to the 401 in stitch patterns or other features but it is a good machine nonetheless.
People seem to rave more about the 237 as it may have been one of the last Singer sewing machines with all metal parts. Plus, it sewed a very pretty satin stitch, and the clincher that makes this model so popular is that it can easily convert to a treadle machine.
Hard to compete with that but the 401A has lots of stitch patterns that make it a very versatile sewing machine. Then the other functions on the 401A make it a top model to have in your collection. Both machines have their good and bad points with the 401A edging out the 237 by a stitch or two.
Like most sewing machines, you have to raise the take up lever to its highest point before you start to thread this sewing machine model. What is unfortunate is that the Singer manual for this model doesn't use words to describe how to sew it. It only places a diagram on the page and moves on to the bobbin.
From what we can see, you place the spool of thread on the pin and lead the thread to the first thread guide. Go through the guide and then head down to the tension disc and then go right to left on top of the disk.
Before getting to the tension disk you need to put the thread through the right side of the next thread guide and on the way back up you put the thread on the left side. Next, you put the thread right to left through the hole on the take-up lever and head back down through the next two thread guides.
When you get to the needle, you go right to left through the eye. See the diagram at this link.
First, you need to loosen the stop motion screw with your right hand. Then raise the bobbin winder and put the bobbin (class 66) on the pin. After that press the winder next to the handwheel.
Once that is done, place the spool of thread on the lower pin and lead the thread through the winder tension disks. Thread through hole in the left side of the bobbin. Hold thread end to start the winding.
Once full, the bobbin will automatically release and you just tighten the screw again. If you need diagrams click here.
The best way to use this old sewing machine is to follow all the instructions carefully. Then make sure to use a 15-1 needle sizes 9, 11, 14, 16 & 18 only. You may find a universal sewing machine to fit that requirement.
When placing the needle in the right position make sure the flat side is facing the back while the long groove is facing you. If you are a beginner, the manual will tell you which needle size will work best with each fabric you want to sew with.
If you need more instructions, we suggest you read the manual found at this link.
The 401A may have only been in production for a short time, but it certainly made a lasting impression. many of its models are still sewing strong and there seems to be no end in sight to their ability to work. the machine may be a bit complicated to use but it is still a top-of-the-line sewing machine.