Domestic Sewing Machines: Who Made Them? (Dating and Company History) Update 05/2022

Don’t let the word fool you. The term “domestic” refers to a product produced in one’s own country. It can also be the name of a company that sells sewing machines. This is the situation with this sewing machine manufacturer. This was a short-lived sewing machine manufacturer in the United States.
What company created domestic sewing machines?
Wm. A. Mack & Co. once manufactured this sewing machine brand. Starting around 1861, the company secured a patent for its sewing machine in 1863. After serving honorably in the Civil War, Wm Mack’s brother joined the firm in 1866 and began selling the Domestic sewing machine from a cart.
Continue reading our article to learn more about this short-lived sewing machine firm. It goes into the subject and provides the information you need to tell this sewing machine apart from the rest.

Who Made Domestic Brand Sewing Machines?

Who-Made-Domestic-Brand-Sewing-Machines
In 1861, the Wm. A. Mack firm began manufacturing domestic sewing machines. In 1866, when his brother joined the company, it was selling sewing machines out of a wagon.
Wm. Mack & Co. created the Domestic Sewing Machine Company in 1869 to continue producing sewing machines in Norwalk, Ohio.
The business was granted a patent for its vibrating shuttle design in 1863. This design was ahead of its time, and it outperformed Singer. Other sewing machine manufacturers have replicated the Domestic design throughout the years.
Mr. Howe and Mr. Singer both imitated the high arm style for their sewing machine models, therefore the design must have been pretty good. The Mack brothers then quit or sold Domestic in 1884 and founded the Standard Sewing Machine Company. James Blake took over Domestic and relocated it to Newark, New Jersey.
The company created a few models that were competitive at the time, but the success of those models did not prevent White from buying the company in 1924. Domestic continued to function as a subsidiary of White until the 1930s, when the Great Depression terminated the company’s run and Domestic became simply a brand name for White sewing machines.

Domestic Sewing Machine Company

Domestic-Sewing-Machine-Company
Domestic was a corporation that was the envy of its competition when the Mack brothers were involved. Domestic seemed to thrive on invention and engineering while creating a model that was quickly replicated by other sewing machine makers. The Domestic design was adopted by the Brattleboro Sewing Machine Co. and the Williams Sewing Machine Co., in addition to Singer.
Domestic ceased to be the industry leader after the Mack brothers left, and began to imitate the Singer model 27. This Domestic model’s name was King.
Mr. James Blake, one of the company’s alleged founders, died in 1910, however his death had no effect on the company’s trajectory. He is credited as a founder, but he took over the company after the Macks left in 1884 and relocated it to New Jersey.
In 1861, N.S. Perkins and Wm. Mack co-founded the company. Domestic replaced the Davis sewing machine firm as Sears & Roebuck’s sewing machine supplier in the 1910s.
The domestic duplicate of the Singer 27 would sell better than the Davis-manufactured sewing machines, therefore the transition was made. In 1885, an advertisement claimed that 900,000 domestic sewing machines had been manufactured and sold in the United States.
Domestic operated as an autonomous subsidiary until the division was liquidated during the Great Depression when White took over in 1924.

How Old is My Domestic Sewing Machine?

How-Old-is-My-Domestic-Sewing-Machine
It’s unclear what the names of the early models were. At least one number was used, the No. 3, which was auctioned in the 1880s. If you come across a No. 1 and No. 2, such machines were most likely produced between 1861 and 1879.
The models with letters- A. B. C… would have appeared sometime in the 1870s or 1880s after the numbers arrived. The first model, Reliable, was introduced in 1884.
The business created the New Domestic after that, around 1890, give or take a year or two. Then there was the King, which was a clone of the Singer 27 sewing machine, as you may have guessed.
The Franklin, a high-arm version of the Singer 27, was introduced in the mid-1910s. The Minnesota and Domestic VS models were also made, but they may have been after the 1924 White takeover.
So, if you have one of those models, you can roughly estimate its age. Domestic Sewing Machine Company sewing machines created after 1930 were not genuine. They were Whites, and Domestic was simply a model for White.

Dating a Domestic Sewing Machine

The model name is the easiest way to date your Domestic sewing machine. It didn’t matter if the sewing machine had a number, a letter, or a name because the identification labels on these machines were done in order.
Numbers came first, followed by letters, and then models with names. Because there are no records to establish the machine’s location in Domestic history, the serial number on each machine will be of little use to you.
The company manufactured an antique treadle machine that dated from 1863 to 1870. There were no identifying signs on the images we examined of this machine. Time has worn the emblems and other decorations away.
If you wish to date an ancient Domestic sewing machine, your best chance is to contact antique sewing machine dealers or write history about them. They’ll have more specific information and will know what to search for when attempting to identify the equipment.
Sewalot and Fiddlebase are two online businesses. They may be able to assist you if you send them images and as much information as possible. However, no guarantees have been given for them.

Domestic Sewing Machine Serial Numbers

Domestic-Sewing-Machine-Serial-Numbers
Domestic appears to have assigned serial numbers to their machines. One model featured a three-digit number, followed by four additional numbers roughly half a line below. There is no explanation as to what these numbers were used for or if they were serial numbers for sewing machines.
Domestic also made typewriters, so don’t get their serial numbers mixed up. One person assumed the lowest four numerals needed to be read backwards, which provided the machine’s manufacture date. However, there is no evidence that the Mack family or their co-founder created sewing machines prior to 1961.
Further investigation revealed that those numbers belonged to a Standard sewing machine, not a Domestic model. This is where serial numbers become perplexing. Confusion can rule when documents are lost to history, leading to incorrect identifications.
Simply follow this page if you truly need the serial number or know where to look for it on particular Domestic machines. However, it only lists a few.

Domestic Sewing Machine in Wood Cabinet

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The original treadle machine comes with a little wood cabinet with a few drawers and a fine wood sewing table, as mentioned above. The rest of the machine is built of iron, and the two materials work together to create a very attractive sewing machine.
There was another variant with a lovely wood cabinet, but it was made after 1924 and before the company went out of business. It doesn’t have a name, but it does have a serial number: Serial 469723.
Then there was the New Domestic sewing machine, which had a six-drawer cabinet, three on each side. It, too, was made of iron, making it a sturdy cabinet that could withstand a lot of use.
There was also a Domestic sewing machine that came in a cabinet but did not fold down. The machine had its own wood cover that sat on top of the cabinet when it wasn’t in use.
Many Domestic sewing machines came with a lovely wooden carrying case to keep them safe when they were not in use.

What is a Domestic Sewing Machine Worth?

What-is-a-Domestic-Sewing-Machine-Worth
This is highly dependent on the number of domestic sewing machines still in use. In the 1880s, the company was producing a large number of models, up to 50,000 per year. Domestic was superior to Singer and other competitors when the Mack Bros. was a part of the company.
Sewing machines in good condition that come with a matching cabinet are the most valuable. The treadle models can be found on eBay for about $400. An approximate 1876 model was selling for under $200.
More portable computers were available for purchase, although these were not particularly valuable. The average cost was approximately $50. If the machines with cabinets are in decent condition, you can expect to pay or sell between $175 and $225 on average.
Remember that dealers and collectors will constantly try to undercut your pricing in order to resell it at a greater price or increase the value of their collection. Then remember that any Domestic branded sewing machine built after 1930ish is not a Domestic sewing machine and may not be worth anything.

Finding a Domestic Sewing Machine Manual

Because the Domestic brand is an older sewing machine, instructions may be difficult to come by. Only around 4 manuals are available from our go-to internet manual supplier. This link will take you to them.
This company is next, and they aren’t doing any better for you. There are roughly 5 manuals listed, and it appears that the No. 2 and No. 3 may have shared a manual. The Franklin has two manuals, whereas the Domestic has two.
One company appears to have a large number of old manuals converted to PDF files. This link has four buttons to press, and the one we looked at had quite a few people waiting to be picked up. The one you may require will cost between $8 and $10.
Then see what kind of selection you may find at your local antique and ancient sewing machine repair shops.

Domestic Brand Sewing Machine Reviews

Domestic-Brand-Sewing-Machine-Reviews
At this time, it appears that no one is reviewing the ancient Domestic sewing machines. There are just too many recent models to inspect and provide information about their quality and performance.
Domestic was once the most popular sewing machine, according to what has been published. In fact, their designs were so brilliant that they were copied by other companies and sewing machine manufacturers.
Domestic received a lot of adulation when it was young, and they say imitation is a kind of flattery. After the Mack brothers left and White took over the company, it’s difficult to say anything about the later Domestic models.
For whatever reason, the new owner thought that innovating new machinery was not worth it, and he frequently imitated his competitors and copied from other businesses. Domestic sewing machines are better the older they are.

Final Thoughts

Original Domestic sewing machines appear to be the models to seek out. They had a unique design and were well-made. Even if it needs to be cleaned, you should have a good sewing machine.
The machine’s quality may have deteriorated after 1910.

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