Christmas of 1957 was when Singer introduced what has come to be one of the most desirable Singer machines of the 20th century, The 401A was a mechanical marvel built to an unbelievable standard and in 2020 dollars this machine sold for over $4000.00.
The introduction of the Singer 401A did not come without some hurdles, as Singer engineers incorporated some design elements that already belonged to Vigorelli and Bernina, and some lawsuits had to be settled. It was around this time that Singer was also discussing some distribution deals with Bernina which got them in a little more hot water with the Federal Trade commission.
Building on the gear driven rotary hook system of the 201 and the slant needle system and drive motor introduced by the 301, Singer produced a really incredible machine with a wide range of built in stitches, as well as having the ability to use accessory cams. This is the stitch chart for the 401A, and 403A which followed it, being a slightly lower cost machine that used cams for all it’s extra stitches.
The 4xx series expanded to include the 404A (straight stitch), and there were German made variants as well, with the model peaking with the 431G which was a convertible free arm (and is quite rare). The 5 series Singers used the same internals as the 4xx series but got a different body and some slightly changed external parts, we find that the 4 series are a much more robust machine.
My mom said that back in the 1950’s this was the sewing machine she wanted but could never afford, as she was never one to put anything on a payment plan, if she was still with us and was sewing you know I would give her one of these fabulous machines.
We have several in stock now that have been completed serviced and are ready to provide another 65 years of service or more… as they are just that well made.Follow us on Facebook
5 Replies to “The Singer 401A”
I see you have been reading some articles I had written and decided to transpose them.. The Singer #401 retailed for $349.99 in 1957, so I really don’t know if that is the equivalent of “$4000,00 in todays dollars”. Singer made a million of them between late 1956 and 1961 so there are plenty around. FYI, when they went on sale, they were $299.99- not a bad price and Singer offered a 24 month financing plan. with a trade in on your old machine.
Factoring for inflation, the original price was the equivalent of nearly $4000.00 cad and they were a massive success.
I am not sure what articles you are referring to, but over the past decade I have read and studied a lot of sewing history.
Hello, many of those article were written by me !!!
Last week I traveled c. 150 miles to buy a 401a for $60 from an estate cleanout. The grandchildren of their 96 yr of grandmother/sewist/crafter were hoping to find someone who would carry on their grandmother’s love for sewing. I delivered this well cared for machine to my 12 yr old granddaughter who is thrilled to have it. The tradition lives on!
My 92 yr. old mom moved into a senior home a few months ago, and gave her 401A to my daughter (her grnddtr). So I am glad there is still info out there.
My mom said she got the machine from her sister, who was a Singer sales rep (in Alaska), back in 1958 or 59. She said it was a month’s wages for my dad, and they paid it off over time. A recent service was done and the guy told her not to sell it. Now I see a 431G in an auction, so I hope to get it for $25, and hope the parts can be interchanged with the 401A.