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Old Antique Vintage Washing Machines

Updated on September 20, 2014

Vintage Washing Machines

Vintage Washing Machines
Vintage Washing Machines

Vintage Washing Machines

Old Antique Vintage Washing Machines

These days, not too many people in America can imagine washing their clothes by hand. We've gotten used to electric clothes washers and dryers that do the job for us. But, before these convenient devices were invented, people used to spend hours wringing out their clothes in machines similar to this one and then try to find space to hang them all up to dry. As you can imagine, this was an exhausting task. In the modern era, vintage washing machines are valuable collectibles for people who dream of a "simpler" era.

Of course there are places even now where electricity is not readily available and people still wash their clothes by hand. In fact you can even find many modern hand washing machines for sale on Amazon, like The Laundry POD. These are great for extended camping trips and for areas where there is no way to use a modern washing machine with electricity.

Vintage Washing Machine

Vintage Washing Machine photo by aussiegall

Washing Machine Museum

The current record holder for the largest collection of vintage and antique washing machines is a fellow named Lee Maxwell, who has collected more than 2,000 machines and currently operates the Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum. Look for his entry in the Guiness Book of World Records and be sure to look up his museum in Eaton, Colorado. The videos I've listed below are from inside his museum.

Antique Washing Machine Museum Tour - Antique Washing Machines

Manual Wash Machine Demonstrations - Manual Washing Machines

This is a video tour of many of the manual washing machines at the Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum in Eaton, Co.

Washing Machine History

Antique Washing Machines
Antique Washing Machines

Vintage Washing Machines

Washing Machine History

In the middle to late 19th century, there were quite a few washing machine models floating around. Ideas and patents ranged from practical models to ones that were apparently invented by someone who has never washed a load of dirty laundry in their lives. (If you'll remember, most patents were being registered by men who, if they were married, often had nothing to do with the housework.)

A couple of ideas that never quite made it to market are a plunger-like device that had already been bypassed by more advanced models and a washer that vaguely resembled a wheelbarrow and had to be pushed to get it to work. If you have trouble imagining somebody using a plunger to do the laundry or pushing their clothes washer around the yard, you probably see why these ideas never took off.

Pictured: Antique Washing Machine photo by Rick on Flickr.

Even some of the early electric models had a distinctly vintage look. An early electric washing machine consisted of a wooden drum that clothes could be inserted into and a lever-and-pulley system that could be used to turn the drum eight revolutions one way, and then reverse directions for eight revolutions the other way. They had no lid or safety system, so the person handling it would have to be careful not to get body parts or hair caught in the moving parts. Another, slightly safer model had a clutch that would disengage the machine when the lid was raised. Much of the advertising for vintage electric washing machines touted the safety of their models, though the person operating it should still be careful to keep body parts and hair away from moving parts.


No 439,266 EP BAUGH WASHING MACHINE Patented Oct 28 1890

Many dealers in vintage household machines may have a few vintage washing machines around. Due to the cost of shipping full size machines, buying and selling online can be somewhat prohibitive but you can reach a larger audience by featuring smaller models or salesmen's portable demo machines. People who have an old vintage machine in their basement may favor eBay for unloading it. Collectors of vintage items like to shop at flea markets, local antique shops and visit the websites of people who routinely buy, sell and trade old washing machines.


Antique Washing Machines photo by Dottie Mae

Antique Washing Machine Photo

Buy this Antique Washing Machine Print HERE

Antique Maytag Washing Machines

Antique Washboards

One of the most labor intensive manual washing machines is the simple antique washboard. By scrubbing the clothes in a tub of water against the ridges of the washboard the dirt would be removed from the clothes. Scrub, scrub, scrub to get them clean. These are still used today by many people in developing countries who have access to water or rivers to clean their clothes. Alternatively, many musicians also use them as a percussion instrument, playing them with thimbles or mallots.

Hand Washing Machine

Portable Hand Washing Machine - The Laundry POD

Comments about these Vintage Washing Machines

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    • profile image

      stuart-w-hofman 

      4 years ago

      @anonymous: My parents have one. My Grandfather was a Rullman from Indiana. We are trying to research it to see if there was any relation.

    • profile image

      gwscott5550 

      4 years ago

      @anonymous: I have what is believed to be a 1910 Rullman hand operated vacuum wooden washing machine with flywheel and wringer on top, all in good operating condition. I acquired this from an elderly neighbor lady about 1963. I have decided to sell it as it is taking up needed space in a small log cabin we have on our property. Since you are a decendent, would you be interested in it? We could try to send pictures to you if you would like.

    • profile image

      MichaelKraft 

      5 years ago

      We have sure come a long way with modern washing machines. I thought this lens was fascinating.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      Just discovered that we have a Easy Washing Machine Corp. Dryer Machine in great condition in our storage house. The model # is 150 and the Serial # 10061. It looks as it it dates back to the 30's or 40's. Can anyone help me find out more information about this machine and approximate its value? Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: I have a Rullman's Rapid Vacuum Washer. It has the gear system on top. It is so cool to raise and lower the handle ans watch the gears work. How neat to be related to the

      Rullman's.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      My great grandfather was David Rullman one of the brothers of the Rullman Brother washing machine co. They were bought out by may tag and my grandmother would only by may tag washers right up until her 80's.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      5 years ago

      @anonymous: have any photos? possibly know manufacture date? is it a wringer or a modern one? also where are you located? Thanks!

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I have original Maytag washing machine engine complete .

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      Antique Maytag washing machine engine complete !

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I have original Maytag washing machine engine complete with original Maytag spark plug, also antique Briggs washing machine engine.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I have a vintage 1950s GE washing machine. Know of anybody looking for one? mduden24@gmail.com contact me please. Have pictures if needed. electric and still runs like new. Thank you.

    • VintageAntiques profile imageAUTHOR

      Willow 

      6 years ago from Texas

      @anonymous: The Lee Maxwell Washing Machine Museum's website at http://www.oldewash.com/ has an entire database of washing machines.

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      6 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      What a great lens. Nicely done and fun to look at.

    • profile image

      anonymous 

      6 years ago

      I HAVE A PIECE FROM 1896 MANUAL WASHING MACHINE ALL WOOD

      HELP I HAVE PICTURE

    • arperinos profile image

      arperinos 

      6 years ago

      very original and interesting lens !

      keep up the good work !

    • rayray131 profile image

      rayray131 

      6 years ago

      Great lens. Very interesting.

    • Commandrix profile image

      Heidi 

      6 years ago from Benson, IL

      Wow...People collect everything, don't they? Cool. :)

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