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The 24-17 is one of the dozens of variants of the model 24 that Singer made over the years. And as far as I've been able to find, the 24 was first developed in 1886 or '87. It seems to have had un-prefixed serial numbers until 1900, and then they got a prefix. Just like all the other machines. Someone on FB (perhaps they're here, as well!) has a very nice 24-17. What's interesting is that the serial number has 6 digits and no letter prefix, and would date it to 1871. Something to note is that the 24-17 isn't actually a sewing machine -- it's a crimper, built into the model 24 casting. I find it nearly impossible to believe that Singer was making the model 24 casting that early. (Think about the other machines they were producing at the time, and how different they are.) But how can the serial number be explained? Is it possible that Singer used an entirely different sequence of numbers for industrials, or at least for machines that didn't actually sew? Or was the 24-17 really produced that early, and only later given a place in the model 24 lineup as variant number 17?
__________________ My machines: http://projects.foxharp.net/sewing_machines/by-age