Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Singer 401A Slant-O-Matic Sewing Machine and Singer #351 Copenhagen Blonde Cabinet

It was the same day that we found the George Nelson Bubble Lamp shade. Man we were on a roll.

And it was the same thrift store where we got the Tulip Style Chairs . You put all that together and you're bound to find something worth writing about. We did.

Sewing Circle people - look at this.

A Singer Cabinet #351 Copenhagen in all its mid century magnificence.

And inside is an Anderson, SC built Singer 401A.

Want to see more?

Now keep in mind that Mr. Modtomic would have had this cleaned up for you already if this was his post. Down here in Florida we move at a little slower pace. We pulled it off the truck and took pictures. We'll get around to cleaning it a little later. Please bear with us and the grime.

Unless you were there when it was purchased new, it's kind of hard to date a Singer sewing machine with accuracy. People who know these things say the 401A was produced between 1957 and 1961. We'll call that close enough. It's a pretty good bet that the cabinet was bought at the same time. I mean look at its design. Mid century all the way.

Just look at those legs.
And it's blonde too. Or is it blond?
Even the back side looks good.
Vintage hardware. I'll bet you can't buy this stuff today.

I know what you're thinking. "Yeah, it looks okay, Dave. But how does it run?" Funny you should ask. As it turns out Wonder Woman owns two other vintage Singers. We have a 500A and a 503A. And in typical Wonder Woman fashion she has torn them both down to see what makes them work, done some minor repairs, and generally familiarized herself with the operating principles of vintage sewing machines.

This one is her favorite. I'm not sure of exact dates so don't hold me to any of this, but in the 1950s there was the 300 series, then the 400 series, and then the 500 series Slant-O-Matic Rocketeers.

Slant-O-Matic and Rocketeer? Are you kidding me? What excellent names!

So this one was made between '57 and '61, and our Rocketeers were probably made in '61 - '63. She used the Rocketeers for all the sewing in the Sofa Reupholster Post.

It even came with its drawers full of original manuals and accessories.

I believe these are bobbins.

An accessory box awaiting exploration.

Sew you're wondering what we paid for this aren't you. Did you notice I said "sew" instead of so. Hey, I'm funny. I'll keep you in stitches. Oh, there was another one. Now if I can just thread myself back toward seriousness. Thread, get it? Somebody stop me.

Okay - fifty bucks. Yes, that's right all of this wonderfulness for fifty bucks. You know what else? You don't have to use a foot pedal to make it go. It has an attachment in the case that allows you to use knee pressure on a lever that makes it go. Is that cool or what? Even with your foot in a cast you can still sew.

I've heard this machine when Wonder Woman was testing it. It sounds solid. It runs like a well oiled machine. Sewing machine that is. We now own three vintage Singers, and a mid 60s Kenmore. I think we're set for a while when it comes to sewing machines.

We'll be back later with . . . more stuff.


  1. This is great Dave! I own a Singer that I think is from 1939. It was my Nana's. It is in the garage because I don't know how to use it! I need to learn though because Nana said the older model would sew through anything and I need to get some upholstery work done!

  2. My mom was an expert seamstress, and she made most of my clothes, including my prom dress, on a Singer just like that one!

  3. I just added to my stable of 11 sewing machines with a 401a Slantomatic for the big sum of 50 bucks. It is in mint shape and even the finish on the desk is still good - older than me by a couple of years and I think in bettet shape....

  4. Hello, your # 401 is circa 1958-60..The reason is that you have the newer tension knob and needle bar thread guide. The 1957 machine debuted mainly for Christmas of 1957 and was not only an engineering feat, but
    legal drama for the Singer company. Singer sales had dropped significantly after WW2 and was faced with
    competition from Europe and Japan. Singer was slow to introduce "cutting edge" features. The reverse lever
    was not available until around 1929- although they did have the first internal gear drive motor in 1926 (#101).
    Singer compiled engineering components from the Italian firm of Vigorelli and Bernina (internal camstack) and
    the patent/ legal issues held up the production of the # 401. Finally in 1957 the #401 was put into production..
    No expense was spared to create the "debut" model..The tension knob, motor and bakelite electrical connections were from the # 301 machine. The internal bearings were oil impregnated bronze and the all
    screws, metal trim were heavily chrome plated. An ingenius needle bar thread guide only lasted a year or so.
    Year after year, bits were streamlined or eliminated (decals) in an attempt to make the machine appear more
    "modern" as 1960 approached.

  5. Dave, I have had this model sewing machine for 15yrs. It was my Nanny's. It is in a different cabinet than your pictures are showing. Could she have changed it? Just very curious and want to know its value.
    Thank you Tina

  6. I was in a thrift store and a woman wanted to buy the machine out of the desk, but didn't want the desk. So lucky me, I took the desk home to my 3 vintage Singers. Love the desk - it is wonderful! I have a 500, 503 and 401. The 401 was in roughest shape, but luckily I have a 96 year-old Singer man in town to help me out with them.