Domestic Sewing Machine Dating Estimates

High Arm and Fiddlebase Models only, this is a work in progress

There is no dating chart by serial number available for Domestic sewing machines made prior to 1924, reportedly due to a factory fire that destroyed records.

I have been working on making a reference page for dating Domestic machines for many years. Initially, I tried to find enough dated warranties and receipts to make a chart, but they are very hard to find, so I recently decided to find as many dated advertisements as I could and build the chart that way. Unfortunately, most ads show only the cabinet, so that is what I mostly have to go on so far. I am in the process of writing up results with all of the backup information explaining the logic of my estimates. It is taking a ridiculous amount of time to take, edit and code links to all the reference photos, so I decided to just put the information out there with a promise that the backup info is in the works.

I have a few dated serial numbers, but most of my information is from ads and catalogs, and most of it is based on changes in the cabinet design because with a couple of exceptions, the machine itself did not change much over the years.

How you can help

If you have dated serial numbers or warranties for any Domestic machine made up through 1924, I would be delighted to receive them. It is a bonus if you have photos of the matching machine or manual.

I am looking for the following manuals:

Additions and corrections are appreciated!

Contact me at

These are the features to look at to determine the age of a Domestic cabinet.

Treadle pedal/pitman arm: the treadle and pitman arm changed several times over the years. There are 6 designs that I know of for the High Arm and Fiddlebase models up thrugh 1901 which I labeled A-F. There were different treadle/pitman designs for the New Domestic and later models. When I refer to a treadle I am also including the matching pitman arm design. The following images are from a ca 1908 Excelsior catalog. Treadle A was not in the catalog. Note: C has an illustration error. The treadle should look like the stand images below. I will have photos to go with these soon.

Click to view full size

Irons: The designs of the center brace and sides of the irons changed as shown below, in this order. The fancy stand was concurrent with the other A and B treadle stands. This does not include the specialty cabinets which will be in a future update. It also does not include cabinets for the New Domestic and later machines, which will be covered in a future update.

This chart shows dates for the designs shown above:

Notice that the sides of the irons changed when the center brace did, but it did not always match the treadle change.

These are the changes in the machine head that indicate age

Wheel pulley release for winding bobbins, patented 10-15-1878 (US 208804)

The automatic bobbin winder was introduced circa 1889/1890.

Thread take-up moved to top of arm in 1894. I have not located a patent for this.

Claire at Needlebar speculated that it is based on a Canadian patent.

Dated serial numbers

The following chart shows some serial numbers and features that I have dated with receipts, warranties, ads, etc. Machines can sit in stock and not get sold right away, so all these mean for sure is the machine was made before the recorded date.