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Viscount Sewing Machine

on May 1, 2011 in Blog, sewing, wichita kansas | 36 comments

On the way to the spouses social last week, I spotted many garage sale/mulit-family sale signs. …at 5p in the evening on a Thursday… So I thought, “Oh those sales must be for tomorrow, maybe. Hum, if they were today, I bet they are picked over.”? That is always my thought if I roll past a garage sale after 12noon. =)? Anywhoo, as my assistant and I are driving there was a sign “Multi-Family BARN SALE.”

What could it be???

What could it be??

OH MAN! I channeled my inner-American-Picker and swerved my van right into their grassy field, ahem, parking area. I’d never been to a barn sale! {{Remember, we are on our way to a social and need to be there by 5:30p.}}? If you haven’t seen the show, American Pickers, you’ll have to check it out. It cracks me up and they have their own lingo and everything. So my daughter and I spent the next 15 minutes looking as fast as possible at this HUGE barn sale and saying “Yeh, I’d pop on that.“? – Just like Mike and Frank. It was fun. Turns out the sale was to benefit one of the huge local private schools $chool$, and had donations from all over town, from MANY different families. {{gotta get to that social!}}

OOoh La La!

But then I see it… The Viscount Sewing Machine. I have seen LOTS of sewing machines from all sorts of eras. I have never seen an orangie/pink one (lets not call it salmon) and I’ve never heard of the brand Viscount. Oh… this baby was coming home with me! And here’s a perk for a sale at 5pm- EVERYTHING was HALF OFF. I’ll let you keep reading while you guess how much I paid for this.

Power and Belt

This sewing machine is crazy heavy. It is missing a couple parts. I bought it. I brought it home and I plugged it in. Turns out, there are two plugs in the carry case, then you plug in the carry case to the wall. {{NEAT!}}? Right when the plug hits the wall, the needle starts going at, um, a thousand miles an hour. -Like an industrial machine- I checked to see where the foot pedal was and if maybe I was… sitting on it?? Nope. So I held the pedal down to plug it in- maybe the wires are crossed. NOPE- that thing just fires up stitching right when any power hits it. Ok. I probably won’t be sewing on it anyway… I guess…

Threading and Tension on the Back

I thought it was interesting that most of the threading and tension is on the back, end of the machine, where most machines I’ve seen have it on the front. I don’t know what the advantage to that would have been. Maybe it was a disadvantage, since it seems this machine is no longer made. It does make for a nice, sleek, clean front, though.

Model Numbers

My model is a Viscount 850 and after searching the internet, all I seem to be able to find is that is was made in the UK by a company called Viscount which was later bought by Silver. Viscount also made knitting machines. If you know more about the machine, I’d love to hear about it. Drop me a comment.

And are you ready for the price?? Did you guess a number in your head?

$3.50 (USD)? Awesome, right?? Mike and Frank would proud. =)

I do have a small collection of antique/old sewing machines in my living room- on the plant ledge. So this will be a wonderful addition to the treadle machine heads and the hand crank machines. This also brings my total “Sewing Machines Owned By Jen” up to … 14. (+ my serger)

Hum… there should be a twelve step program for this kind of thing…


  1. Jen, I think you voided the warranty when you double plugged it…ROFL.

    I would have bought it too….just for it’s uniqueness and fun of learning about them. You don’t have a collection….you are just preparing for your own museum….that is what I tell myself. One day folks will pay big bucks to come see my machines..right? LOL


    Kelly Jackson

    May 1, 2011

  2. This looks so much like my Mother’s old Montgomery Ward’s machine. That one still works and is in my sister’s possession (she promised to give it to me someday if she didn’t want it). I’m going to send the link to this post on to my Mom and see if she can shed any light on what you have.


    May 1, 2011

  3. By the way, I guessed $10. Wrong! And I saw American Pickers for the first time a few weeks ago. It’s a fun show, along with Storage Wars and Pawn Stars!


    May 1, 2011

  4. WoW!! 3.50? Can’t pass that up. Great find.


    May 1, 2011

  5. You know I would have bought it too! Especially at that price.
    Knowing my husband, he’d be in side it trying to figure out the wiring to get it to work. He’d find a way somehow, some way!

    Thanks for sharing it with us.


    May 1, 2011

  6. You appear to have a J15 machine (Japanese copy – but usually much improved – of a Singer 15). They are wonderful machines – the feed dogs drop very easily and they have more throat space than many modern machines. They can also be put into treadles – which is how I operate mine. Treadle quilting is so relaxing.

    The tension on the end is what gives it away as a J15. The bobbin is vertical and that means the thread has less angles to go around making it great for quilting. There are lots of websites and groups who could help you to get this back up and running.

    Dorothy in Oz

    May 1, 2011

  7. This is an amazing find.


    May 2, 2011

  8. Love your new “light Coral” sewing machine and the price. It’s beautiful.


    May 2, 2011

  9. Oh I would have bought it too! I am bad for collecting old machines too…They have such character. I think you found quite a score! I hope the book fair goes well!


    May 17, 2011

  10. I love my viscount machine and use it all the time. It was given to me by a friend. It was Originally bought in Stocton CA from Northern Appliance Aug 13 1965 They just dont make them like this anymore


    January 16, 2012

  11. Hi…I just got a Viscount model 999B for my birthday…fully restored…and with warranty for one year…I love vintage sewing things and will be practicing tomorrow with my new vintage machine…I am trying to find out when it was made…and mine is teal… have fun with your ‘collection’.

    Marion Leonard

    August 2, 2012

  12. Hi,
    I had gotten a Viscount (Brown and Tan)model 940 for 5.00 at a “Good Will” really loving it. It came with several attacments in a box and some of them I know and some of them I do not. If anyone knows of a manuel that I could buy for it I would love to know where to get one. I just love this machine but man is it heavy.
    Thanks, C

    Cheri Templeton

    October 26, 2012

  13. My sister found one of these in the attic of a house she just bought…Do by any chance know how to thread it? we have tried everything we know to do..Would be forever greatful for any help
    Thank you


    April 18, 2013

  14. I was given a machine just like yours. Mine however is missing the bobbin assembly & also the button where the thread length knob is 🙁 I am praying that my good ol sew and vac guy can locate a part that will work as I would love to see her up and running again.
    Yours is a beaut! I am calling mine Coral.

    Ariel Sandford

    June 20, 2013

  15. Just purchased a viscount portable #770 in a beautiful turquoise..I am willing to pay for a copy of the insturction book dont know how to thread it

    Peggy Malcom

    July 10, 2013

  16. I just picked up a Viscount 945 (badge says made in Japan), in olive green. Controls and shape remind me of very late fifties, early sixties design sensibility.
    WORKS:) $5 at a rummage sale. can’t go wrong with a price like that!!
    No manuel…might take the advice of the commentator above, and check with the quilting groups for more info.
    I’m going to take the machine into one of the local sewing repair places, to have it tuned and tension set, just to make sure.

    Larry LaFontsee

    August 21, 2013

  17. I have a Viscount 960 also made in Japan,
    I cant seem to get it to do right. When I thread it and start sewing the needle unthread and I don’t seem to know why. Any suggestions


    October 6, 2013

  18. Dorothy in Oz! I hope you’re still around. You’re the first person I’ve found on the internet that seems to know about these machines. I just inherited my grandmother’s olive green Viscount 870. I had it restored and was just starting to use it when I wanted to look at a manual. I looked online and couldn’t find a thing! I was curious about the ’embr darn’ option because I’d love to darn something but didn’t want to mess with it unless I knew more! Any help?!



    November 29, 2013

  19. I have a Viscount 940B machine (guessing is a late 50’s or 60’s machine) for which I am seeking a manual and also advice on using it for machine quilting.
    Can I purchase a new walking foot and expect it to work on my vintage machine?


    January 2, 2014

  20. I just bought a Viscount DELUX at an estate sale for 10 bucks. Haven’t found a model number. I bought it just to tinker with–I’m learning to sew on my Singer Featherweight. Anyway, when I looked on the bottom of the machine there was some rust, and since I live in the desert, I imagine someone set it outside and the sprinklers hit it. I’m busy getting the rust off with sewing machine oil. The motor and belt look like they’re new but I’m not getting anything to work when I turn the wheel and haven’t plugged it in yet. The bobbin holder was also rusted. I found one item on the web that says the viscount is self threading. I don’t know anything about that and can’t tell if mine is or not. It’s all tan with a black motor and chrome plate that covers the front of the machine and chrome wheel. I too would like to get a manual! Jack

    Jack R. Kunkel

    January 5, 2014

  21. I found a manual for a machine that looks almost exactly like mine. It’s for a Delux Precision sewing machine. Mine (see last post) is a Viscount Delux Precision machine. I also found the model number on mine: 202. Here’s the web address:

    Hope this helps!

    Jack R. Kunkel

    January 5, 2014

  22. Jack R. Kunkel…….Thank you for the manual post. I have a Viscount sewing machine that is at least 45 years old. I have misplaced my manual and am having problems with replacing the needle. This helped me a lot.


    January 8, 2014

  23. I don’t have any experience really in sewing, but I can tell you, on this machine, if that needle is not put in just right…..your thread will break no matter where you put your tension. I have tried other needles, but the one that I can always get to work is the one that has 15×1 on it. I have sewn leather and fabric with that needle. I hope that helps you. If you go to the link that Jack posted, you will see the directions there. Good luck.


    January 8, 2014

  24. btw Jack, if the stop motion knob is not tightened, there will be no movement of the needle. You loosen it to put thread on your bobbin. Hope that helps.


    January 8, 2014

  25. I have a Viscount 999B that sews like a dream and does zig zag and lots of fancy stitches but I have no manual and have not been able to find one.

    Joseph Rydant

    February 15, 2015

  26. Your machine, as is everyone elses that have posted in the comments, are what is known as “badged” machines. They were made in Japan, and different companies in the US bought them and put whatever name they wanted to on them. So, your machine could be under several different names. Jen, I have a machine just like yours, but it is badged Atlas. As for finding manuals for these machines, Google – Sewing Machine Manual, and you should get several websites that sell them. You will have to look at EVER picture, to see if it matches your machine. 🙂


    May 16, 2015

  27. Dorothy, you seem to be very knowledgable on this subject. I am trying to help my sister thread a Viscount 929. Can you help? Please advise.

    Nicole Liller

    July 29, 2015

  28. This post is so old that this is probably irrelevant information for you at this point, but as far as the machine immediately turning on at a thousand stitches a minute as soon as you plug it in–you probably have the motor cord from the machine plugged into the light socket. There are two outlets that are probably labeled “motor” and “lamp.” You have to put the motor cord into the motor outlet and the lamp cord into the lamp outlet. Otherwise, as soon as you plug the motor cord into the lamp outlet, it will do exactly what you described.


    March 24, 2016

  29. I just had the 908 sold to me nd I don’t know anything about any of sewing anything … how do u thread it?

    Brandie Perine

    February 15, 2017

  30. Believe it or not! I have the zig zag model of the same machine. Yes it’s pink and grey. My dad helped me purchase it when I was 14 at the Western Auto store in Thomasville North Carolina. While I have other sewing machines, it’s always the one I prefer. And you’re right, it’s darn heavy. But it hasn’t given up on me like the newer electronic machines.

    Linda White

    December 7, 2017

  31. Linda white. Just bought the pink and grey Viscount Deluxe S1817 TODAY… Small world. It came with the manual and assorted feet.


    December 22, 2017

  32. I also have a Viscount 850. Purchased yesterday for $1.50 US. MADE BY Koyo-Seiko in Japan 1960 or 61, and distributed by Consolidated Sewing Machine Corp. Aka Consew which is still in business. This is class 15 (Singer) machine and uses standard class 15 parts like bobbins,case hook,needles etc.
    This is “Japan branded machine”. Koyo and other manufacturers made machines without their own name and sold them to many distributors who badged them with names of their own. I know of at least 12 brand names that were actually made by Koyo. Heavy machines built like a tank, can last forever.


    October 6, 2018

  33. Just a little more info. Regarding the Silver Viscount, Silver is a distributor in the UK who purchased sewing machines from Japan. I do not think they actually made machines of their own. They could have purchased these directly from Koyo, but the Viscount name belongs to Consew (which in the 1960’s was also a distributor, and today is a manufacturer). In you photo on the first post, the machine is in a case marked Morse, which is another line of machines made by Koyo.

    Koyo made some machine as early as 1929. Later they merged or partnered with Seiko. About 1962 the two split. Koyo only made sewing machines for a short while after that before switching to making roller bearings and auto parts today. Seiko continued making sewing machines for Consolidated Sewing Machines (Consew), especially many types of industrial machines. Just a few years ago, Consew moved to making machines in China.

    Sewing machine collectors will sometimes describe a whole category of machines as “Japan branded machines” to describe those made in Japan but sold under many, many brand names invented by the sellers. It can be difficult to identify who actually manufactured the machine. A person has to study the design and features to make a good ID. Generally these machines are very well made, excellent units. Koyo did not print a user manual for any machine. Only a few distributors printed a guide, and typically it was not much help.


    October 6, 2018

  34. I got a Viscount sewing machine. I paid $50 for it. It is a Viscount Deluxe 740. It is pink and brushed silver. It was made by Firestone.It has all the original part’s and paperwork. On the paperwork it says mine is a 5-F-103 Super automatic Zig-zag. Looking at yours it is a 5-F-101 Streamliner. I can send you a picture of the paperwork to your email. I’m not able to add one here.

    Stacey L Driskell

    October 17, 2018

  35. I have a Dressmaster 740 Deluxe Automatic Zigzag. I am looking for any information on it. Also would love to get a copy of manual. It is pink or salmon with grey on top. Haven’t been able to do more than find other brands with the same design. Thanks for all the help here.

    Peggy Want

    January 30, 2019

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