Anchor Brand Clothes Wringer – 1898
Today’s Throwback Thursday from The PAST Antiques takes us to 1898 with The Anchor Brand Bi-Cycle Clothes Wringer made by the Lovell Manufacturing Company of Erie Pennsylvania.
It sure is a tough world out there, and maybe you have heard the proverbial phrase: “It feels like I have been put through the wringer”. Well, “the wringer” refers to this antique clothes washing mechanism from the 19th century. In England, this device is often called a “mangle”, and being put through the mangle doesn’t sound much better! The meaning behind this famous expression “being put through the wringer”, means that you have endured a long and difficult ordeal; which is exactly what doing a load of laundry was like in the 19th century. The fact is, we do not have it so rough these days when it comes to household chores. It was not that long ago when indoor plumbing and household appliances did not exist. In fact, it was not until the 1930’s that a feasible safe indoor plumbing system was available to the average consumer. Prior to this, the public was forced to go to a common water source several times a day for fresh water needs. Keeping your clothes, your house and yourself clean was a huge undertaking. On wash day, you would need to heat water over a fire, use it to soak the clothes, then rinsed and wring them out, all by hand. Afterwards, you would lay them out or hang them to dry. This chore took all day and many trips to the well or water source. It was no surprise that people were inventing new ways to cut down on wash time.
The first hand cranked clothes wringer to be patented was by Canadian, John E Turnbull in 1843. It was attached to the clothes washer basin. The excess water was caught in the basin and reused. As washing machines progressed so did the wringers. Many styles came out but from the 1880’s on only two companies had patented wringers. The ‘Horseshoe Brand’ by the American Wringer Company and the ‘Anchor Brand’ by the Lovell Manufacturing Company. Most washer models used the Anchor Brand except for Maytag, a leader in household appliances at the turn of the 19th century.
The wringer was a device used to extract the excess water from the freshly washed laundry using two rollers under spring tension. The clothing was pressed one at a time between the rollers as you hand cranked the wheel. The 1898 model of The Anchor Brand Bi-Cycle Hand Crank Clothes Wringer touted that it was easy turning with its steel ball bearings. The rollers and wringers were warranted for three years of family use. It had an improved guide board for spreading the clothes, and steel spiral pressure springs. As wringers improved over the years they were soon fitted to steam engines for commercial use. Some of the early powered home models were operated by a single cylinder hit or miss gasoline engine. These wringers that were not manually powered were quite dangerous and many injuries came from an arm, fingers or hair being pulled into the rollers. In the 1930’s improvements were made to the washing machines with electricity and indoor plumbing now available. Washers with electric motors and tubs that spin the laundry to remove water became common. Wringer style washers went by the way side.
Today, the antique wringers are renowned as great collector items. The wooden frames are made of hard maple with a galvanized steel frame. The wringers are often decorated with stylish block letters and other printed designs. The Lovell Manufacturing Company not only made wringers, but also rat and mouse traps, bed springs, step ladders, cash registers and ball bearings. Now called Lovell Place, the Lovell Manufacturing Company Factory is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The Anchor Brand Bi-Cycle Hand Crank Clothes Wringer circa 1898 is available for sale at The PAST Antiques Marketplace, along with many more antique wringers and accessories. To learn more, visit The PAST Antiques on Route 85 in Montville, CT and check back next week for a new Throwback Thursday from The PAST!