Saturday, July 30, 2011

A Visual Guide to Identifying Singers from Crappy Craigslist Photos, Part 3: Is it a 201?

In the first two parts of this series, we learned to identify model 15s. If you've ruled out the model 15, we'll next see if it's a 201 before moving on.

The 201 can often be mistaken for a 66 in bad Craigslist photos, because the silhouettes can seem similar. If the photo's high-quality, you can see the difference, as below:


But many times the photo is too small, dark or blurry to clearly see the top line. In that case, we resort to identifying a 201 based on a few things.

The first thing we'll look for is the round stitch length indicator plate in the photo below. If we've determined it's not a model 15 but it has this round plate, then it is a 201 for sure.

In this next, terrible photo, all you can see is a the round plate and a little of the pillar. So how do we know if this is a 201, or a model 15?

Well, look at the angle of the pillar line. Is it almost vertical, like on a 201, or is it raked back at an angle like the 15?

201, nearly vertical pillar line
15, raked/angled pillar line

Sometimes the photos are taken from the wrong side of the machine, so you can't see the round plate. In that case we look for this little flat piece of metal that the spool pin sits on, AS WELL AS the round inspection plate:

If you can see that flat plate for the spool pin AND the round inspection plate, it's a 201. If it's shot from the other side: If you can see that flat plate for the spool pin AND the round stitch length indicator plate, it's a 201.

The third thing we'll look for is small, white, and will usually show up even in dark photos. It's this tiny light switch:

Please note the light switch in that location only appears in the 201-2, not the 201-3. But the good thing about it is, it's usually visible even in small, terrible photos. For example, look at this one:

That little white dot is the only way I can tell this machine is a 201-2.

Okay, Quiz Time: Which of the following machines is a 201?

Also, is it a 201-2 (potted motor), or a 201-3 (belted motor)? You already know how to look for these things from reading Part 2, so once you figure out if it's a 201, looking at the motors will help you figure out if it's a 201-2 or 201-3.














Now let's check to see if you got 'em right:

1. Not a 201. There's no round plate visible. If there was, you'd see the little silver knob and lever.

2. It's a 201-2, see the tiny light switch?

3. Also a 201-2, that tiny white dot is the light switch.

4. Not a 201, there's no flat plate for the spool pin.

5. A 201-2, it's got the round plate and the white light switch.

6. It's a 201-2. Tough to see, but you can barely make out the round plate. You also cannot see a belted motor, so you know the potted motor is hiding back there.

7. Not a 201, there's no round plate.

8. Also not a 201, there's no round plate.

9. Here's a 201-3, it's got the flat spool plate and the round inspection plate. Belted motor makes it a 201-3.

10. Flat spool plate and round stitch length plate make it a 201. You can also see tiny bump of belted motor under the leftmost arrow, making it a 201-3.

11. It's got the round plate, but the "ski jump" angle makes this a model 15.

12. No flat spool plate. Not a 201.

13. It's got the round plate and the tiny white light switch. 201-2.
I told you it would get trickier, but hopefully you're making out okay.

Go on to:

Part 4: Is it a 66?

Part 5: Is it a 99?

Or go back to:

Part 1: Is it a model 15?

Part 2: If it’s a model 15, what kind of 15?


  1. That first machine was a 206, and it looks like a nice one at that. I must admit that I am thrown off by the light in the back but now that I know about the flat spool pin, I'm all set.

    Elizabeth near Cooperstown, NY who worked on a 15-91 today.

  2. Wow! Catching up on your blog today. This visual guide is fabulous. I get it. I also know I'll need to review several times to get it into my brain.

    Thanks! Your awesome!

  3. Rain, I love your blog, been following it and your posts to various groups. But IDing the 201s you're missing an obvious- the 201-2 is the only full size black Singer with that light fixture on the FRONT of the machine.


  4. Hi, love your blog! I have a 206 (haven't converted it for needles yet) and lost a teeny tiny screw from cleaning and taking it apart.

    I have a French 222k,a couple of 201's (need to sell one), an anniversary 201, a 15-91 (love that one) and a non functioning 27. I love em!

  5. I have been wondering about this stuff. What a great post to find your blog on. Thanks!

  6. #7's a model 206, the only giveaways being the flat spool plate coupled with a squarish inspection plate. That was Singer's first domestic zigzag. Great machines.

  7. Quick reference for a 15 vs. a 201 is the 15 has the tensioner on the end. The tensioner on a 201 faces the operator.

  8. After studying the photos I thought I would hop over to my local Craigslist to practice identifying machines.

    I'm pretty sure this is a 201-3 ~~ because even though I can't see any motor peeking out it looks like it has a belt. This means it can be converted to a treadle, doesn't it? I have several 201's that have the potted motor but would love to have one to fit into a treadle cabinet..

  9. Hi Cathy, that's a 201-2 for sure. In the third photo you can see the "sunrise" of the potted motor. What looks to be a belt in that same photo is actually the power cord.

    - R

  10. Great info. However, the 201-2 that I have had since 1967 does not have the flat plate under the spool pin and it has a black light switch. "Easy A" doesn't have the flat plate under the spool pin either, but it does have the white light switch. There is no evidence that either 201-2 had that plate under the spool pin. Just mentioning that there can be some other slight variations.

  11. Can the Singer 201-3 with the belt driven electric motor be easily converted to or used in a treadle table ?

    1. Yes, and in fact, that's why the 201-3 is sought after among treadle-lovers. All of the smoothness of a 201, without the electrical calories.

  12. Hi there. I know my machine is a Singer 201, but I'm not sure if it's a 201-3 or not. It is electric and has the light at the back instead of in front. Would you know from that small amount of information? Thank you! :)