Vintage Wizard sewing machines have a fascinating history and loyal following among sewing enthusiasts. First manufactured in the early 1900s, Wizard sewing machines were produced by the Free Sewing Machine Company and gained popularity for their reliability and innovative features.
In this comprehensive guide, we’ll explore the various Wizard sewing machine models, delve into the brand’s history, look at how to determine their current value, and provide tips for finding parts and resources. Whether you’re a collector looking to purchase a vintage Wizard, or have inherited a family heirloom, read on to learn all about these iconic sewing machines.
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History of the Wizard Sewing Machine Company
The Free Sewing Machine Company based in Chicago, Illinois first began manufacturing Wizard sewing machines in the early 1900s. Founded by August Matthiessen, the company aimed to produce reliable and innovative sewing machines for the home seamstress.
Key historical highlights include:
- 1901 – The Free Sewing Machine Company is established in Chicago, Illinois.
- Early 1900s – The first Wizard sewing machines are manufactured and gain popularity for their performance and features. Models include oscillating shuttles and innovative stitch regulators.
- 1920s – Wizard releases the popular Wizard “Unipolar” motor model, featuring an efficient electric motor.
- 1940s – With over 200,000 machines produced, Wizard sewing machines are sold across America and internationally. The company focuses manufacturing on wartime efforts during WWII.
- 1950s – Post-war economic growth allows Wizard to resume sewing machine production and release new innovative models.
- 1960s – Facing growing competition from foreign and mass-produced brands, the Free Sewing Machine Company ceases operations in 1969.
During their heyday, Wizard sewing machines earned a reputation for reliability, ease of use, and convenience with innovative features like electric motors and lighting. For many households, owning a Wizard machine was a worthwhile investment that enabled women to easily sew clothing and household items.
Vintage Wizard machines continue to have an enthusiastic following today among sewing history buffs, collectors, and artisans who restore and use these well-built older machines.
Popular Vintage Wizard Sewing Machine Models
Wizard sewing machines came in a variety of styles and models over the years. Here are some of the most notable and sought-after Wizard machines for collectors:
Oscillating Shuttle Models
Early Wizard sewing machines used an oscillating or vibrating shuttle mechanism rather than a rotary hook style. Popular oscillating shuttle models include:
- Wizard Model A – Produced starting in 1901, this very early model had an ornate decal on the arm and bed and embroidered flourishes that exemplified the Victorian-era style.
- Wizard Model O – Similar oscillating shuttle machine but with Art Deco stylings that became fashionable in the 1920s-1930s. Sleek black and gold decals on the arm differentiated this later model.
Rotary Hook Shuttle Models
Later Wizard machines transitioned to using rotary hook mechanisms. These included:
- Wizard Model R – An innovative rotary model introduced in the late 1910s. It was Wizard’s first three-quarter size sewing machine for home use.
- Wizard Model K – A full-size model released in the 1920s featuring a powerful 1/4 horsepower motor, knee-control speed, and automatic bobbin winder.
Innovative Feature Models
Some special Wizard models incorporated innovative or advanced features for their time:
- Wizard “Sew-Motor” – An early attempt at an electric motor released in the 1910s. The bulky external motor attached by belt drive to run the machine.
- Wizard “Unipolar” – This popular 1920s model featured an efficient built-in electric motor in the machine body rather than relying on external power.
- Wizard “Dial-a-Stitch” – Released in the late 1950s, this model had a pattern dial with pre-set stitch lengths for various fabrics and projects, eliminating guesswork.
Determining the Value of Vintage Wizard Sewing Machines
There are a few key factors that determine the collector’s value of vintage Wizard sewing machines today:
- Age – Older Wizard models from the early 1900s tend to be worth more than later models. Machines from the 1920s-40s are also popular.
- Condition – Wizard machines in excellent working order and cosmetically intact will command higher prices than those that are damaged or not functioning.
- Rarity – Unusual one-off models or those with scarce options like cabinets or treadle bases will be more valuable than common models.
- Decorative Details – The ornate engraved flourishes and decals on early Wizard models appeal to collectors. Later Art Deco styling is also prized.
- Innovative Features – Models with features ahead of their time, like electric motors or automatic stitch settings, hold higher value.
Of course, rare, one-of-a-kind models in outstanding condition could garner prices exceeding these ranges.
Overall, the most valuable vintage Wizard machines will be the earliest models, those in the best original condition, and special limited editions with prized features.
Finding Parts and Resources for Wizard Sewing Machines
To keep your vintage Wizard sewing machine running smoothly, it may occasionally need replacement parts and service. Here are some top resources for Wizard machine parts and servicing:
- eBay – This online auction site regularly has listings of various individual Wizard sewing machine parts, attachments, and manuals that sellers have salvaged. Listings change frequently.
- Etsy – Like eBay, the Etsy online marketplace has Wizard machine parts and accessories sold by individual vendors. Look for items listed under the brand name “Wizard.”
- Sew-Classic – This website specifically focuses on parts for antique and vintage sewing machines from all brands. They carry a selection of parts like needles, bobbins, feet, and gears that may be compatible with older Wizard models.
- Repair Shops – Check locally owned sewing machine repair shops, especially those that specialize in vintage machines. Many have a stock of common parts and do quality servicing work.
- Owner’s Manuals – Look for PDF downloads of vintage Wizard machine manuals available online. These have helpful parts lists and diagrams. Printed manual reprints are also sold on eBay and Etsy.
- Sewing Forums – Connect with other Wizard machine owners, collectors, and experts through specialty sewing sites and forums. They can offer advice on sourcing parts and repairs.
With some persistent searching, Wizard sewing machine parts and knowledgeable service people can still be found to keep these vintage machines running smoothly. Proper maintenance and care will keep your old Wizard machine sewing for many more generations.
For over half a century, the Wizard sewing machine company produced high-quality, innovative machines cherished by sewists. Early oscillating shuttle models and later technologically advanced electric machines exemplified their spirit of ingenuity.
Vintage Wizard machines are sought after by collectors and sewing enthusiasts today not just for their longevity and capabilities, but their inherent artistry and history. Models from the 1920s through 1940s are most abundant and demonstrate Wizard’s penchant for both ornamental decoration and practical functionality.
Whether you have inherited a family heirloom Wizard or are looking to purchase one, we hope this overview provides deeper insight into these machines’ background, models, value, and available resources. Properly maintained and used with care, your vintage Wizard can continue to sew exquisitely for decades to come.
Frequently Asked Questions
What years were Wizard sewing machines manufactured?
Wizard sewing machines were manufactured from the early 1900s to the late 1960s by the Free Sewing Machine Company in Chicago. Their peak production period was from the 1920s through the 1940s.
How can you tell the age of a vintage Wizard sewing machine?
Clues to identifying the age of a Wizard model include the style and materials used. Ornately engraved decals indicate very early 1900-1910s machines. Sleek black with Art Deco details points to 1920s-30s models. The addition of electric motors and more streamlined designs help date machines from the 1930s-50s as well.
Were Wizard sewing machines made in America?
Yes, Wizard sewing machines were proudly manufactured in Chicago, Illinois by the Free Sewing Machine Company throughout the vintage era from the 1900s through 1960s. They were marketed as high-quality American-made machines.
Are reproduction Wizard sewing machine parts available?
Some specialty retailers like Sew-Classic carry replacement bobbin cases, attachments, and small parts that may fit or work with vintage Wizard models depending on the machine’s age. But most original company manufactured Wizard parts are no longer produced.
Where can I find someone to service my vintage Wizard sewing machine?
Check locally owned sewing machine repair shops, especially those specializing in vintage machines. Owners’ clubs and sewing forums are also a good resource to find recommended service technicians familiar with Wizard brand machines in your area.