How Old Is My Montgomery Ward Sewing Machine? Dating Tips

Published January 7, 2021
Woman working at the sewing machine at home

Although dating them may be more challenging than other sewing machine brands, there are some clues that can help you find out how old your Montgomery Ward sewing machine is. Montgomery Ward hired other companies to manufacture their sewing machines and rebranded the machines with the Montgomery Ward name. For this reason, discovering how old a Montgomery Ward sewing machine is can require a bit of detective work.

Manufacturers of Antique Montgomery Ward Sewing Machines

Montgomery Ward was a catalog retailer and department store that operated between 1872 and 2001; it still exists today in the form of online Ward's. Throughout its history, Montgomery Ward contracted with large sewing machine companies to create badged machines that featured the Montgomery Ward name. Because the machines weren't actually made by Montgomery Ward, it can be challenging to determine which manufacturer actually created them. However, knowing the manufacturer can help with dating the sewing machine. These are some of the sewing machine brands who manufactured Montgomery Ward equipment.

Foley and Williams - Circa 1913

According to the International Sewing Machine Collectors Society, manufacturer Foley and Williams built the base model "Oakland" sewing machine for Montgomery Ward. The catalog went so far as to tell customers that they did not recommend this machine, the cheapest full-size model, in the 1913 catalog.

National Sewing Machine Company - 1955 and Before

Other than the "Oakland," almost all Montgomery Ward sewing machines made before 1955 were actually made by the National Sewing Machine Company. These models included the "Damascus," the "Brunswick," the "Windsor," and the hand-crank-operated "Amazon."

Happy Sewing Machine Company - 1950s and After

In the 1950s, Montgomery Ward began contracting with the Japanese Happy Sewing Machine Company to produce its machines. These machines usually carry the Montgomery Ward name and often have a model number as well. You can identify machines from this company by the letters HA, JC, or JA or by a symbol that looked like a dove.

How Old Is My Montgomery Ward Sewing Machine?

Montgomery Ward stopped selling sewing machines in 2001 when the business was restructured, so all Montgomery Ward machines are older than that date. However, further narrowing down the date range a Montgomery Ward sewing machine requires looking for clues on the machine and in any literature supplied with it. Here are some tips:

  • Examine the machine for a model name. Many will say "Montgomery Ward," but a lot of the earlier machines featured other model names. If you have a "Damascus," you know it was made by National. That will help you get a date range for it.
  • Look for a model number. If you can find a specific model number for your machine, you can further narrow down its production date. Look for other machines with the same model number and their associated dates of production.
  • Check the manual. If your machine includes a manual, it may have a date printed in it. Even if it does not, you can use the model number on the manual to determine the age of your machine.

Value of Vintage Montgomery Ward Sewing Machines

Montgomery Ward sewing machines can be worth anywhere from $50 to $200. While Singer sewing machine values are fairly consistent, the same is not true for Montgomery Ward machines. That's because the machines vary so much in quality and manufacturer. In addition, condition can have a huge impact on the value of any brand of sewing machine, with machines in good working condition fetching the most. The best way to determine how much your Montgomery Ward sewing machine is worth is to look at recent sales of similar machines. Here are some examples:

Clean Up Your Montgomery Ward Sewing Machine to Sell It

If you're thinking of selling your antique Montgomery Ward sewing machine, it's a good idea to polish it well. Clean off any grime and try to get the machine in working condition. No matter how old your Montgomery Ward sewing machine is, it will be worth more if it looks nice and functions.

How Old Is My Montgomery Ward Sewing Machine? Dating Tips