Tuesday, August 16, 2011

A Visual Guide to Identifying Singers from Crappy Craigslist Photos, Part 5: Is It a 99?

Model 99, up top, is stubbier. Model 66, on the bottom, is longer.

The model 66 is a full-size machine; the model 99 is a 3/4-size machine with the same visual DNA as the 66, the same lines and curves. Identifying the model 99 by sight is fairly easy, because it's just a horizontally-squashed version of the model 66, as you can see above.

The model 99 is the only 3/4-size machine I'm covering in this series. One other 3/4-size machine you might see on Craigslist--I've only seen one once or twice--is the model 28/128. This is easily distinguishable by the shovel-shaped inspection plate and/or dual slide plates:

NOT a 99, as evidenced by these features.
So, if you see either of those indicators, you'll know it's not a 99. The 99 has a single center-mounted slide plate, as seen below:

The only way to tell if a machine is full-size or 3/4-size is to look at pictures of them over and over again. After a while you start to get a sense of "Well, that looks too 'stubby' to be a 66" and you'll realize it's a 99.

There is one other giveaway that it's a 99, which is a bit trickier to see. If you'll recall, I started this series off by telling you that this photo...

...is a model 99. How did I know? Well, look at the needlebar-containing area of the head of a typical 99:

It kind of looks like the head of a hammerhead shark.

In other words, the front part of a 99's head is symmetrical:

"A" is the same length as "B." That's unique to the 99.

Contrast that with the 66:

As you can see, the same area on the 66 is NOT symmetrical top-and-bottom. "A" is definitely shorter than "B" on a 66. It's too lopsided to resemble a hammerhead shark.

That's the only way I could tell from that tiny, crappy little photo that I was looking at a 99. The front part of the head looked symmetrical. I e-mailed the owner and she later confirmed it.

So, quiz time: Which of the following is a 99?









 How'd you do? You can check your answers below:

1. Too long to be a 99. This is a 66.

2. It's stubby, definitely a 3/4 machine. Single slideplate says it's a 99.

3. Again, too long to be a 99.

4. Stubby and has that "Hammerhead" symmetry. It's a 99.

5. Again, stubby size plus the "Hammerhead" symmetry makes it a 99.

6. Too long and stretchy. This is a 66.

7. Stubby, and single slideplate. It's a 99.

8. Stubby, and barely visible single slideplate. 99.

9. Stubby, bu not a 99, as evidenced by the shovel-shaped inspection plate and dual slide plates.

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?

Part 4: Is it a 66?


  1. My mother had a 99k from 1951. It's currently with my brother in Denver. My baby sis took it (without asking) after Mom passed, then ran into some financial straits. When she called me asking for money, I checked the Denver craigslist, and sure enough, there was Mom's machine. So I bought it, but I haven't been out to collect it from my brother yet.

  2. Man, what a story! Glad you tracked the machine down before it went out into the world. What I wouldn't give to have an old Singer that had been in the family.

  3. my DD was just here for a couple of days--the girl who just HATED sewing in high school. She spotted a 99 with a godzilla finish and was immediately attracted (I thought it was ugly). She turned the handcrank and fell in love. She made a bag for her netbook and kindle out of upholstery fabric lined with a quilted cotton, and the 99 lived up to its reputation as a tiny powerhouse. She took it home with her and a new seamstress is born!

    sometimes there IS a payoff to all that motherhood stuff, lol

  4. Can't tell you how fantastic this guide to identifying Singers from crappy Craigslist photos is!!!! Not only is it incredibly useful and thorough, it's very entertaining as well. :) LOVE it, thank you!!