Vintage sewing machines are real workhorses. While they do not have all the bells and whistles of the modern computerized sewing machines, they were built tough. Those old vintage machines last and last if they are taken care of properly and White sewing machines are no exceptions
It wasn’t long after the invention of the sewing machine that the White sewing machine company came into existence. The company started in 1858 in Templeton, MA, and later moved to Cleveland, Ohio where it was incorporated in 1876.
To learn more about the history of the White sewing machine company all you have to do is spend a few moments reading our article. It tells the story of this company and why you can’t find their machines anymore.
It was Thomas White who founded the White Sewing machine company in1858. Only back then it was called the White manufacturing company and only changed its name when it was incorporated in 1876.
The company was family-run until about 1955 when Edward Reddig became president and started to make wholesale changes to the operation. The company used to make cars but in 1906 that manufacturing strategy was spun off and became a separate company known as the White Motor Company.
Through the years White purchased many major appliance brands like Kelvinator, Philco, Westinghouse during those years of operation change. In 1964 the company changed its name to White Consolidated Industries and in 1975 bought Frigidaire.
In 1986 Electrolux bought the White Industry and renamed its sewing machines Husqvarna Viking in 2006. That is when the White name was permanently removed from existence.
No, the company ceased to exist when it was bought out by Electrolux in 1986. When White bought Westinghouse from GM in 1975, they created the White Westinghouse brand but that brand name is not applied to their company’s sewing machine lines.
Instead, the name White Westinghouse is used by Electrolux but not for its sewing machines. For the sewing machines, the brand name used is Husqvarna-Viking brand name and those sewing machines grace the lower end of the quality scale.
The White sewing machine brand has not made new White sewing machines since they were changed into Husqvarna-Viking in 2006. The interesting thing is that Husqvarna-Viking, Pfaff, and Singer are all owned by SVP Worldwide and owner’s manuals for all their sewing machine’s including vintage White’s through the Singer website.
The White Sewing machine had a very good run. It started being made in 1858 when the company was first created and continued through to 2006. That almost 150-year history helped produce some great sewing machines.
You may not know this but White owned and produced quite a few other sewing machines under different brand names. After losing about 40% of its business when it lost its Sears contract in the 1950s, White survived by buying competitor brands and manufacturing them under their separate brand names.
Philco, Kelvinator, Gibson, Westinghouse, and Frigidaire all became Whites without losing their identities. The lone exception was Westinghouse whose brand name was coupled with White’s and became the White-Westinghouse brand.
After the Electrolux takeover in 1986, the White brand survived another 20 years before being removed from the sewing machine manufacturing business. Probably Singer and Bernina are the only two sewing machine companies that have enjoyed a longer existence than White.
Dating the White sewing machine is not going to be that difficult once you know the procedure. But you might face some confusion as White bought out Husqvarna-Viking in the 1960s and continued to produce their machines under that additional brand.
The process is not hard as all you have to do is look on your sewing machine and find the tag that has the manufacturer’s information. That tag can be on the front of the machine, the back, the bottom or on the motor.
After you find the tag, copy down the serial number. Next, you find the Husqvarna-Viking website and click the contact us button. Dial the toll-free 800 number, 1-800-446-2333, and tell the customer service rep you want to learn the age of your sewing machine.
Make sure you give the rep the serial number and other personal information they may ask like zip code, phone number and so on. Give the rep a little time and they should come back with the date your machine was manufactured.
The history of the jean machine is hard to separate from the manufacture of all the other models White produced over the years. The company was producing about 60,000 models in 1882 making it difficult to find exactly when and where those machines were produced and what technological changes came about.
From the reviews, the White Jean machine remained a basic sewing machine that was supposed to handle denim easier than a regular sewing machine. They did not come with a lot of stitch varieties and a straight stitch.
Many of the reviewers found that this model of sewing machine was not the best they could get and opted to buy different brands of sewing machines that worked with heavier fabric better than the White.
While the machine sewed through layers of denim, the results were not always satisfactory and that is probably why no one has written history about that machine. Its performance did not stand out in anyone’s mind making it worth writing about.
Here is a list of model numbers that White produced over the years. It is not yet been determined if this is a complete and definitive list and some models may be missing:
41 43 150E 162 206 208 215 216 221 221N 228 228 by Jaguar 234 234DE 263 265 299D 301 305 310 312 323 346 363 366 423 445 447 463 466 468 500 503 504 505 510 523 527 530 534 534D 565 568 578 599 609 620 622 628 629 634D 634DE 641 651 656 664 666 672 685 690 691 693FA 710 734 734D 734DW 750 764 765 769 800 804 816 834DW 844 900 915 935 936 941 944 955 960 970 972 976 977 979 988 999 1066 1077 1079 1080 1088 1099 1111 1122 1164 1202 1210 1265 1300 1365 1405 1407 1409 1410 1411 1415 1418 1422 1425 1455 1466 1470 1477 1488 1499 1500 1505 1510 1515 1523 1525 1563 1577 1588 1599 1600 1620 1630 1632 1665 1666 1680 1700 1710 1717 1730 1740 1750 1760 1766 1777 1780 1787 1788 1800 1805 1810 1866 1888 1900 1911 1919 1927 1934D 1955 1975 1977 1979 1999 2000 2000AT 2000ATS 2031 2034 2035 2037 2078 2134 2200 2220 2221 2222 2235 2335 2360 2500 2660 2838 2900 2900D 2932 2999 3051 3052 3100 3200 3300 3355 3851 3900 3900B 3954 3955 4000 4040 4041 4042 4050 4060 4075 4400 4500 4910 5000 5101 5103 5215 5340 5500 5680D 5800 5823 5839 6957 7000 7234 7340 7621 7700 7934 7934DW 7934WD 8000 8234 8600 8800 8910 8931 9800 9951 11780 S34 S34D SL34 SL34D SL234D SL234DE SL243D SL344 W2500 W2900D W3300 XL1760
This model of a White sewing machine came with a few stitch patterns you can use but the lack of choice is one of the weaknesses this machine came with. It could do a straight stitch as well as a zig-zag option but few other stitch designs to work with.
The owner's manual is still available and it shows that this machine was very simple design with all the controls in convenient locations. You could change the stitch length some and you could also change the width of the zig-zag stitch but as far as bells and whistles go, this is a plain Jane sewing machine.
12 accessories were part of your purchase and there was a handy storage area in the extension arm. While some people were satisfied with its performance, it was not a top machine that wowed people and made them want to own one.
Even though it had a free arm that allowed you to embroidery work there were better models on sale from other brands
The serial number on your vintage White sewing machine is an important part of finding out how old it is. The location of the serial number may be in one of a variety of places and it may take a few seconds to get the exact location.
Just look on the front, back, bottom of the machine or on its motor. The machine is not that big so it won’t take long to find it. Once you get the number write it down in a more convenient spot so you have easy access to it.
Some serial numbers may be 7 numbers long and depending on their date of manufacture that number may be even smaller. To get a complete list you may have to contact Husqvarna-Viking and ask them to send you a copy.
Part of the value of a White sewing machine will be in how it was originally made. If it came with a cabinet, then it would be worth a little more money than a model that came with its carrying case.
Then the condition of the machine plays a role in how much a White sewing machine is worth. The better the condition the better the price. Another factor that plays a role in determining the value will be how many machines were made at the time and how many still exist.
Of course, the value is only as high as the buyer is willing to pay for it. Some Whites have been known to go for about $300 or more most seem to be lower in value. eBay has one at $300 and two at about $140 and one more at $175.
You are not going to make a lot of money off a White sewing machine unless you have a rare model in tip-top condition and still working. The bad news is that the models 1422 & 1717 are selling for less than $50. Sentimental value plays a small role in determining the actual value.
There is not a lot of good news in this category for you. A vintage White sewing machine advertisement for sewing machines for sale is more valuable than the actual rotary sewing machine.
Antique shops may have their prices marked a little higher but their value is more on the historical aspect of the machine and not the machine itself. eBay has a couple of rotary sewing machines listed and their prices range between $20 and $160.
Keep in mind that the sewing machine when accompanied by its original cabinet, you may see the price soar to $450. But every market in the country is different and the location of the seller plays a role in how high or low the price will go.
A similar machine in a different market sold for only about $155. In the end, the value is the price the market is willing to bear and pay for.
In 1858 dollars the original machines sold for $10. Over a hundred years of inflation later and that amount may not buy you a great machine today. In fact, $10 in 1858 money equals roughly $300 today so you can still afford a low-end machine today.
That conversion tells you how good the White sewing machines are except for one factor. The pre-war years saw the machines made from metal parts. That construction the White and other sewing machines of that era to be strong, long-lasting and capable of doing a lot of sewing.
Many early White sewing machines still work 100 years later. In terms of performance, it is highly doubtful that White exceeded the performance of the top machines of its day.
Their contract with Sears tells you that they were not making a lot of top quality machines but wanted every home to have one at an affordable price. The White sewing machine while dependable were not made to be super performers like Singer or Bernina.
To get this list started there are some places you can go that won’t cost you a lot of money to purchase a White sewing machine. Thrift stores, estate sales, and yard sales would be your best bet for an inexpensive purchase price.
Auction houses may have a White from time to time and that option may be rare. eBay is one place and while you can’t get rich selling your vintage White through that company, you can find some cheap purchase prices if you want to add to your collection.
Antique shops are next on this list but expect to pay a higher price than some of the other options. Part of their selling price will include the money they spent restoring the sewing machine. They will also add some historical value to cover their costs and make a little profit.
Finally, newspaper classified ads, Craigslist, and similar selling outlets are a good place to find White sewing machines. Friends and family may be a good opportunity but that may be rare as well.
If you want a modern White sewing machine at a reasonable cost, all you have to do is buy a Husqvarna-Viking brand machine as that brand has been making Whites since the 1960s.
Keep in mind that the Husqvarna-Viking models are on the lower end of the quality scale.
The White Sewing Machine Company and sewing machines have had a very long and rich history. Starting in the 19th century the company made affordable machines so that every sewer could find relief from their sewing duties.
The good news is that many of those old-time machines were built with meta parts and continue to work today if you can find them. The bad news is White was not making Bernina quality sewing machines.
His machines may not perform as well as other brands and many sewers have made similar statements. A bright note is that White machines are very dependable and can get the job done even if the results are not as good as you would like.
These days you will find Whites under the Husqvarna-Viking name as the use of the brand White ended in 2006. The final chapter of White remains unwritten.