Wednesday, August 10, 2011

A Visual Guide to Identifying Singers from Crappy Craigslist Photos, Part 4: Ruling Out the 27/127, Ruling In the Model 66

Now that we've learned to figure out if a tiny Craigslist photo is of a Singer 15 or 201, we'll next turn to the model 66. The 66 was the entry-level Singer and is extremely common on my local (NYC-area) Craigslist.

The model 66's silhouette can easily be mistaken for a model 27 or 127, so the first thing we'll learn to do is rule that out. The model 27/127 has two dead giveaways that are easy to spot from many angles: 1) A silver shovel-shaped inspection plate, and 2) Dual slide plates running the entire width of the bed:

NOT a 66, as evidenced by these features.

So if you spot either of these items in any given photo, you can be sure it's not a 66. And either of those features are often visible in even the smallest, darkest photo.

Next, how do we determine if it IS a 66? If you're dealing with a large photo, the 66 has some unique lines. The top and bottom lines of the arm are both slightly curved and tapered inward, and there's that Ski Jump area that's too steep to be a model 15:

But what if you're dealing with a tiny, dark photo? When the photo is not clear or shot at a bad angle, the 66's lines can often be mistaken for both the 15 and the 201. In that case we need to rely on some other clues.

1) One thing to look for is the gold badge. On an older 66, the ones that antedate the "backtack" feature, it's mounted midway up the pillar--significantly higher than it is on a 15 or 201.

2) Another giveaway is this silver knob located to the right of the gold badge. On the older 66s that controls the stitch length.

So if you can see the little "constellation" of a silver knob right next to a gold badge, both about midway up the pillar, and you've ruled out the 27/127 you'll know you've got a 66.

However, a newer 66 that has the "backtack" feature will get rid of that silver knob and lower the location of the badge. That newer 66 will have a silver-rimmed slot (often easily discernible in small photos since it's reflective):

That silver-lined slot doesn't appear on the 15 or 201s, so you'll know you've got a 66. (It could also be a 99, but we'll get into that in the next entry.)

So, now you know what to look for: The tapered, curved lines of the arm, the gold badge right next to a silver knob, or a silver-lined slot for the stitch length.

Quiz Time: Which of the following is a 66? (Don't forget to rule out the 27/127!)












 Now let's see how you did. You can check your answers below:

1. Gold badge right next to silver knob. 66.

2. Barely visible but again, gold badge right next to silver knob. 66.

3. Same thing, gold badge, silver knob. 66.

4. Getting the hang of this yet? Gold badge/silver knob, 66.

5. The Ski Jump is too shallow--this is a model 15.

6. There's that silver-lined stitch length plate, making this a 66.

7. Again, the Ski Jump isn't steep enough to be a 66. This is a 15.

8. There's that shovel-shaped inspection plate telling us this is NOT a 66.

9. Silver stitch length plate. 66.

10. Silver stitch length plate makes this a 66.

11. Shovel-shaped inspection plate, dual slide plates, NOT a 66.

12. A little trickier since it's a Blackside machine, but hopefully you spotted the features that make this NOT a 66.

Go on to:

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?

Part 3: Is it a 201?


  1. Nice job. I think the Red Head is always a 66?

    Liz in Central NY

  2. A great lesson on what to look for!
    Gwen, the vintage seamstress

  3. I could be wrong but, I believe the machine in photo 12 is a "Crinkle", not a blackside. My understanding is that blacksides were the shiny japanned machines but without "chrome" parts. During war-time(s) the materials to chrome those parts were not available. They even had black bobbins and presser feet as well as face plates. Crinkle was just another finish choice, produced for a number of years. Diana in CNY

  4. anon: Photo 12 is both! Godzilla (crinkle) and blackside both speak to WWII. The crinkle finish wasn't only WWII, but it was specified for military production so there were many more godzillas around wartime production.

  5. That was fun and helpful. Really made me laugh, because craigslist listings are so funny, being an ebayer I realize what they don't show or say.
    Thanks for making me laugh out loud at the craptastic pictures!

  6. now I can go back and look at the 15 I seen for 35.00, I now what what to look for, great blog.