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The Singer Model 221 “Featherweight” Sewing Machine

AE Series Machines

Hello 221 fans! Leo and I want to welcome you back once again. This Question of the Week we will look at the AE SERIES machines. This is the longest QOW we have done to date. Singer did many changes on this machine, making it very hard to write about. So grab a cold tea and hang on tight we'll do our best..........


Last month we did an in depth article on the AD SERIES 221. With Singer bringing out a brand new electric portable sewing machine right at the beginning of a depression was a pretty bold move on their part. Records show an elapse of 11 month's between the first and second production runs, October 1933 to September 1934. Something tells me a few Singer Executives may have had some bad vibes about their new portable during this time.  Sales seem to have boomed though from September 1934 to September 1935.


MONDAY-SEPTEMBER-23-1935 On this day AD999999 rolled off the assembly line, bringing an end to the AD SERIES.A Singer reported TOTAL of 53,044 AD's being built.

ALSO on this date September-23-1935. Singer rolls off a new series of the 221. The AE SERIES. Since the AE was built right behind the AD, the serial numbers start at AE000001 to AE007000. This also made the serial number, the machines production number, on this first production.


In this QOW, Leo and I will walk you around a 100% Original AE000013 Machine. I did change out the wiring. This machine had Cotton wiring, just like the AD series. On the Metal Foot Controls only.


The AE SERIES were built from 1935 to 1938; there were 9 Production Runs of the series. For a total of 132,000, Almost 3 times as many as the AD SERIES.


This machine, over its three year production run, did a complete Metamorphosis. SOME say they were improvements to the machine; I'll let you make that call. Few things on this machine were left the same from start to finish. The TYPE 3 CASE never changed, the SINGER Decal stayed High on the Light, and the Oil Pan Drip Cover Stayed Black. The rest was fair game, and subject to change..........


IN the photo below you will notice from the side the EARLY AE was identical to the old AD SERIES Chrome Balance Wheel, Solid Unmarked Bobbin Wheel, Split Base Frame and Decal to Light Switch. In this photo, the machine looks identical to a Late Model AD series. The Side Mounted Bobbin Winder Guide was Black, ON ALL AE Split Base Machines (CHROME was on the AD ONLY!!). While Singer was recasting the frame, they also Closed up the hole and did away with the Black Side Mounted Bobbin Winder Guide.

BY JULY-13-1936 ABOUT AE216XXX Singer made some MAJOR Changes, AFTER About 90,000 SPLIT BASE machines AD & AE, Singer recast the 221 frame, and the Split Base was NO more, The Gap between the Electrical Plug was closed. Also the Solid Bobbin Winder Wheel was now STAMPED. See the photo below


IN the photo below is the new Top Mounted Bobbin Winder Guide, ALSO! Note the DECAL still runs all the way to the Light switch, This Decal Stayed on till Singer ran out of them. SO! You will find this Original FULL Decal all the way up to Late 1937.....SOME With the New Shorter Decal and Some with the Old Decal......


IN the photo below, the AE had the Un-Number Thread Tension. I have Thousands of AE serial numbers, and Records show the UN-Numbered Thread Tension was around as late as December-8-1937, AE77XXXX era.


IN the photos below is the TYPE 2 Stagger Leg face plate, NOTE the Straight leg on the Bottom Thread Guide. The AD series were the ONLY ones with the Oval or round Guides. BY May-1938 AE97XXXX the Stagger Leg face plates were phased out, and Singer would introduce us to the THIRD face plate which today we call the SCROLL or EVEN LEG face plate.............

EVEN Though the 700 MOTOR was out in 1935 and was on Some AD machines, MANY of the Very Early AE’s still had Unnumbered Motor's...

WHEN Singer recast the machine is 1936, they forgot to remove the Old 1933 Serial Number Base. The Old Base stayed around till at least June-1937 on the AE54XXXX era machines. After that it was forever removed.....



The AE had THREE foot controls, The Metal ones were issued in the September and December 1935, production runs. The rare 6 hole foot control can be found from September 1935 (very few), then again from December 1935 through about late July 1936. In the later part of July 1936 era the Solid foot control begins to show up.

The 6 hole foot control was also the First Singer foot controls to go from Cloth wiring to plastic or rubber wrapped wiring. Singer also dropped the Glass SINGER USA marked wall plugs for the rubber BELDEN wall plugs. Singer would use the Belden plugs for the life of the American 221.

The AE Series had THREE Manuals. The MARCH 1935 Manual was a left over from the AD SERIES machines, and was used for the First production run of 1935.


For the December 1935 production run, Singer also made a (1235) or December 1935 Manual. From this Manual on, Singer would Code the Date (Rev. (xxx). This has caused confusion and panic sending Millions of Collectors to the inside cover for the Copyright Date. ;o)


The last Manual printed for the AE series was (737). This is one of the Worst 221 Manuals Singer ever printed. It shows up with JUNE-1937 machines. MY GUESS! Singer ran out of Manuals and said I needed them yesterday.


The (737) Manual shows a 1936 SPLIT BASE machine with a 1937 Numbered Thread Tension. That my Friends NEVER HAPPENED. By AE216XXX, July 1936 the Split Bases were Gone. And MANY of the FULL BASE AE77XXXX December 1937 DIDN'T have Numbered Tensions.


What Singer did with the (737) Manual is try to show a modern 1937 Machine with an out of date 1936 221 body......


BY MAY-24-1938 the AE SERIES had gone through a complete change. In fact there were more changes made on the AE series than in any of the other 221 series.


The AE had:


THREE different Manuals; MARCH-1935 (1235) and (737)

THREE different Foot Controls; 193852 - METAL, 194372 - 6 Hole Bakelite and 194584 - Solid Bakelite.

TWO Bobbin Wheels; Solid and Stamped.

TWO Bobbin Winder Guides; Front Mounted and Top Mounted.

TWO Front bed DECALS: Old, all the way to light Switch and New, shortened to Bobbin winder Guide.

TWO Thread Tensions; Un-numbered and Numbered.

TWO Motors; Unmarked and 700.


TWO Face Plates; TYPE 2 Stagger Leg and Even Leg or Scroll.

And finally from TWO Serial Number Bases to Just ONE.


WE didn’t mention that SINGER made a “TEXAS CENTENNIAL EXPOSITION” 221 for the 1836~1936 Texas Centennial. Leo and I Know of TWO 221’s from this era: AE061724 and AE214411.

I have HEARD a RUMOR that Leo may have a QOW coming later this summer with a 1936 TEXAS CENTENNIAL 221.


Before you go, please stop by and look at all the Beautiful 221, Leo has for sale. THANKS for dropping by, next time bring a Friend or Two...




                                         COPYRIGHT (611)   LEO & JJ


Contact me at: Leo@TheFeatherweight221Factory.com