You may not have heard of Riccar sewing machines before now, but you’re not alone! The Riccar company made solid, simple machines that never quite got famous. You will find Riccar sewing machine models, value, history, and reviews fascinating!
Founded in 1939, Riccar won several awards for its groundbreaking sewing machine technology. The Japanese company also launched an original sales campaign involving installment pricing plans. Today, sewers value these rare vintage sewing machines for their simplicity and durability.
In this article, you will find out where Riccar sewing machines come from. You will learn about the most popular Riccar models. Finally, you will discover the prices and value of old and new Riccar sewing machines.
Riccar Sewing Machine History
In 1939, a Japanese sewing machine manufacturing plant called Nippon Shokusan Kogyo opened up. In Japanese, “Shokusan Kogyo” translates roughly to “encouraging new industry.” This phrase highlights the huge drive for industrial development in Japan at the time.
The company had a slow start partially due to the eruption of WWII shortly after its founding. After the war, the factory moved to Tachikawa, Tokyo, in 1948. In 1949 its name changed officially to Riccar Sewing Machine Co. Ltd.
Riccar hit its stride around this time. Japan’s post-war industry focused on domestic items like sewing machines, and Riccar developed several innovative designs in the mid 20th century that helped it stand out even in the midst of this sewing machine boom.
On top of this, around 1950, Riccar launched a highly successful subscription and installment payment plan for its sewing machines. No other company had tried this in Japan, and the unique payment method saw a huge success! Riccar proceeded to open multiple stores and even a new headquarter building by 1960.
In 1970, Riccar built Japan’s first free-arm sewing machine. In 1976, the company sold the first electronic sewing machine built in Japan as well!
Riccar won multiple awards for its sewing machine designs. These included the Japanese government’s “Good Design Mark” in 1957, the Ohkochi Memorial Technological prize in 1963, and the prize of the Minister of International Trade and Industry in 1965.
Like many Japanese sewing machine manufacturers at the time, Riccar sought to expand into international sales following its success at home. The company developed the Riccar America Company in 1964, the Riccar France SA in 1967, the Riccar Europa in 1969, and Riccar UK in 1978.
It seems likely that Riccar also sold some “badged” sewing machines under American brand names, as did many other Japanese sewing machine makers. These machines look exactly like Riccar models but were sold under an American brand such as Kenmore. It’s even possible that Riccar made some of the mysterious “Dressmaker” models sold in America during this time!
Unfortunately, by the 1980s, demand for sewing machines worldwide began to drop off significantly. Many sewing machine companies struggled because of this. Riccar carried on and even sold computerized models for a while but never again achieved the great success of the 1950s and 60s.
Who Owns Riccar Sewing Machines?
In 1985, a Japanese department store company called Daiei bought out Riccar. Daiei still sells a few sewing machine models under the Riccar brand name today. That said, Daiei expanded the brand to cover other small appliances and seems to primarily focus on vacuum cleaners now.
On top of that, it’s quite difficult to figure out where or how to purchase new Riccar sewing machines. You can find them on the Riccar website listed with an Indonesian headquarters. You will have to submit a contact form to get information about pricing or purchasing!
It seems likely that these modern models may phase out soon. At this time, they have limited production.
Though Daiei still operates out of Japan, current trends indicate that Riccar sewing machines are manufactured out of a plant located in Indonesia.
Riccar Sewing Models
Eighty-some years of Riccar sewing machine models have hit the market by now, and yet many people have never even heard of the brand! This seems to have happened mostly because the company ran limited production for many of its models. Plus, despite its brief international success, the company never quite launched a significant enough marketing campaign to compete with brands like Singer and Brother.
The lack of popularity may also stem from the fact that Riccar primarily focused on affordable, simple sewing machine models in the mid 20th century. Today, people value these basic vintage models for their solid metal parts and durability. But even vintage models may prove tricky to track down because of their limited production!
Sadly, the lack of digital information on Riccar means that you will not find a complete list of all models made, at least not to date! Also, you can find estimates for roughly when these machines hit the market, but exact manufacture dates remain unknown for most Riccar models.
If you’re wondering which Riccar model is best, that probably depends on what you need out of a sewing machine!
Most earlier Riccar models only do straight stitching. You can find a few vintage models that can do zigzag or decorative stitches with the insertion of special cams, though. And of course, modern machines have cheap plastic interiors but can complete all kinds of fancy computerized sewing.
Let’s take a look at a handful of better-known Riccar models.
|Vintage Riccar Models||Year Manufactured|
|“Super Stretch” 3400||Late 1950s-1960s|
|“Super Stretch” 1010||1970s|
|“Super Stretch” 1020||1970s|
|“Super Stretch” 2600||1980|
|“Mighty A” 303||1980s|
The tough thing about tracking down vintage Riccar sewing machines is that you can’t find a complete list of all models or the manufacturing dates online. After Daiei bought out the original company, these records may not exist anywhere anymore!
The good news is that you can still search for vintage Riccar models for sale and find a decent selection online at sites like eBay and Etsy. This also indicates which Riccar models made it to international prominence back in the day!
Super Stretch 3400
One of the models still floating around for sale today is the Riccar “Super Stretch” 3400. This machine operates under electric power and still uses solid metal parts inside. It has a good reputation as a straight-stitcher but can also use 25 or more cams to create a selection of decorative stitches.
The presser foot does not lift up super high for quilting or other thick materials, but the machine does have enough power to sew through fairly heavyweight fabrics.
Depending on its condition and accessories, you can find it for sale today for prices ranging from $50-$150. If you decide to purchase one of these sturdy models, make sure you get the accompanying cams to enable fun stitching patterns!
Other “Super Stretch” models include 2600, 1010, and 1020, among others. They all have the same basic design and functionality, though some minor advances occurred throughout the decade.
This simple, popular model still comes up for sale pretty often today. Based on its entirely enclosed moving parts and automatic zigzag function, it’s a safe bet that this model hit the market in the 1970s.
The Riccar 250 only has two stitching options. That said, it does come with a nice free arm and extension table! In recent years it has sold for $150. Of course, this depends on the condition and usability of an individual model!
No records exist to indicate when this model first sold, but its features mark it as a mid-20th century model.
The Riccar 9800 has the famous free arm as well as automatic zigzag capability. Probably made during the 1970s and 1980s, this later model has a good reputation for heavy-duty sewing. That said, later 9800 models may contain some plastic parts, so keep a sharp eye out for that if you decide to purchase one!
The 9700, 9800, and 9900 models don’t pop up for sale very often, so you will have to put on your detective hat if you want to find one for sale!
In the 1980s, the 9700 and 9800 models sold for well over $800, but today you can find vintage models selling for as little as $19.99!
Made around the same time as the 9000 series models, the 1570 model seems to use the class 15 shuttle system, originally designed by Singer. It has an aluminum body with some plastic casing, so this is another one you have to watch for internal plastic!
That said, it does feature a nice array of 12 stitching options. These include four types of buttonholes, stretch stitch options, and several decorative stitches.
You can occasionally find used models for sale at around $50-$70.
The Riccar 8500 came out in the 1980s and featured more than 148 stitches, plus multiple types of buttonholes! Of course, this model falls outside of true “vintage” status, as it was made after the 1970s. This also means that it almost certainly contains cheap plastic parts inside and is not a good investment today.
At the time, though, it made quite a splash!
Despite its earlier-seeming model number, this model isn’t quite vintage at all due to its manufacturing date in the 1990s! This machine has more modern features such as adjustable stitch length and width and adjustable presser foot pressure. It also comes with a free arm. You may detect a resemblance to the Bernette 700s, as the two models have similar features.
Originally sold for around $800 due to its heavyweight sewing ability, you can usually find it for around $50 today. As a not-quite-vintage model, you should expect some internal plastic, though, so don’t expect this machine to run forever.
Modern Riccar Models
Most modern Riccar models offer simple, affordable options for the beginning sewer. At this time, Riccar has two model series for sale: the 2700 and the mini 588 series.
In all honesty, due to the difficulty of finding information on these models and the fact that the company primarily focuses on vacuum cleaner manufacturing, these may not be the most reliable or highest quality machines you can find for sale today.
The 2700 models feature 100 stitching pattern options, 9 types of buttonholes, an LCD display, and an extended sewing table. It also has a double-needle function and an automatic needle threader.
The cute little 588 models come in a variety of fun pastel colors. They have 12 stitching options, four kinds of buttonholes, and a reverse switch.
Are Riccar Sewing Machines Good?
Vintage Riccar sewing machines have a solid reputation for consistent, if simple, sewing ability. Modern Riccar sewing machines seem sketchy and do not have guaranteed quality, though they come with many computerized abilities.
Vintage Riccar sewing machines typically feature solid metal inner parts such as the hook and gears. They can sew through several layers of heavyweight fabric and have a good reputation for durability. If you need basic straight stitch capabilities, you really can’t go wrong with a reliable vintage Riccar model.
The trouble is that finding a specific vintage Riccar model may prove challenging due to the limited production of certain models over the years. Then again, getting your hands on a new model may not be a piece of cake, either! You will have to reach out to the Jakarta-run company through the Riccar website’s contact form to find out how much the modern models cost.
It’s difficult to give modern Riccar machines a good review. If you want a basic, beginner-level modern machine, you should probably go with a reputable brand like Singer or Brother.
Riccar Sewing Machine Value
Vintage Riccar sewing machines sell for an average price of about $50-$150 today, depending on the model and its functionality. Brand-new models may sell for slightly more than this. You can even find used Riccar machines like overlockers and sergers online for as little as $100!
The bottom line here is that Riccar sewing machines do not have a high dollar value. For whatever reason, the company never quite pushed through to achieve true fame, and even the solid and reliable vintage models don’t have great collectibility today because of that.
So if you want an expensive collectible with a high resale value, you should not go with a Riccar machine! On the other hand, if you just want a basic and sturdy machine for actual sewing, you will find great reports from most Riccar users. Some sewers have used the same Riccar model for thirty or forty years in a row with no trouble!
How to Thread a Riccar Sewing Machine
You should always refer to your sewing machine manual for specific instructions on how to thread your particular Riccar sewing machine. That said, most Riccar models have a simple design that makes threading quite easy.
- Place a spool of thread on the spool pin and insert the spool cap to keep the spool in place.
- Unwind about six inches of a thread tail.
- Raise the presser foot and use the handwheel to raise the needle.
- Next, follow the thread path. On most vintage models, you will not find cute colors or numbers on the machine’s body to indicate this, but basically, you hook the thread over the metal hooks and levers placed between the spool pin and the needle bar.
- First, loop the thread over the first thread guide.
- Guide the thread down to the tension dial, and loop it around this so that it lies between the tension discs inside the machine’s arm.
- Next, carry the thread tail back up so you can loop it over the take-up lever. (If you don’t know what a take-up lever looks like, turn the handwheel! You will see it pop up out of the arm of the machine at the top).
- Finally, take the thread back down toward the needle, passing around the final thread guide and then through the eye of the needle.
Riccar Sewing Machine Manual
Your Riccar sewing machine manual will show you how to thread your machine, how to wind the bobbin, and even how to keep everything clean and running! You absolutely must read the manual before attempting to set up a vintage sewing machine. Riccar models do tend toward a simple, user-friendly design, but even so, you need to find out if the machine requires oiling and what kind of thread you can safely use!
But what if you find your vintage Riccar machine at a thrift store, and it comes with a good helping of cobwebs but not the owner’s manual? If you need to track down a Riccar manual for an older machine, there’s good news and bad news waiting for you.
First, Riccar no longer exists as a company in its own right. For this reason, you can’t expect any customer support or help from the manufacturer. That’s the bad news!
The good news is that you can always find a wide range of downloadable manuals for sale through eBay, Etsy, and other online sellers. Googling “Riccar 9700” or whatever your model will bring up lots of results!
If you do not want to purchase the manual, try joining an online chat group or discussion board about vintage sewing machines. You may stumble upon a fellow sewer who has the same machine like you! Quite often, sewing enthusiasts share downloadable manuals with each other.
Riccar Sewing Machine Parts
Many vintage Riccar machines use universal needles, class 15 bobbins, and other parts interchangeable with more common sewing machines. This is great news, as it makes it super easy to get replacement parts and accessories when you need them!
You can also find a good selection of Riccar parts for sale online. You can always check the usual suspects like eBay and Etsy. Alternatively, you can try sewingpartsonline.com or sewingpartsguru.com, among many others!
Riccar Sewing Machine Repair
Every sewing machine requires a few repairs here and there over the years. With the help of your owner’s manual and perhaps a few Youtube clips, you can probably make simple repairs yourself!
If you find a more serious issue, such as a foot pedal that will not work or frayed wiring inside an electric machine, you may need to seek professional help.
Most likely, you will not find an official, certified Riccar technician in this day and age. What you can do is seek out a professional vintage sewing machine technician.
Riccar models bear a strong resemblance to many popular models made in the mid 20th century. This means that most repair shops should find it easy to work on your machine!
If you have a new Riccar model, good luck to you! Hopefully, you will get support when you reach out to the company through the website. If not, just make sure you do not void your warranty when you repair the machine yourself.
Riccar Sewing Machine Review
Vintage Riccar sewing machines run so reliably that some professional seamstresses continue to use these old machines today! Riccar machines made from 1938 through the 1980s have a stellar reputation for reliability and simplicity.
Unfortunately, after the company was bought out, this reputation fell by the wayside. If you want a great Riccar model, look to the past and track down an all-metal, carefully crafted vintage Riccar sewing machine!
What can you expect from this type of machine? Older models will offer either basic straight stitching or decorative stitches made possible by inserting cams. Machines made in the 1970s may offer automatic zigzag functions as well.
VIntage models often need regular oiling and maintenance to remain in top working order. Other than that, you can count on your vintage Riccar model to keep chugging along for years to come!
Riccar sewing machines had an excellent reputation during the mid-20th century, though they have faded into the mists of time today. These vintage machines featured solid craftsmanship, simplicity, and reliability. The Riccar company won several awards for its business model and innovative designs.
Today, finding vintage Riccar models for sale gets more difficult every year. Limited production models and lack of collectibility mean these older models are not as readily available as a brand like Singer.
Have you ever come across a vintage Riccar sewing machine? Did you like the way it ran? Leave a comment below to let us know!
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