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Our holdings include hundreds of glass and film negatives/transparencies that we've scanned ourselves; in addition, many other photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs) in the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) They are adjusted, restored and reworked by your webmaster in accordance with his aesthetic sensibilities before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here. All of these images (including "derivative works") are protected by copyright laws of the United States and other jurisdictions and may not be sold, reproduced or otherwise used for commercial purposes without permission.

© 2019 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Do Not Touch: 1910

Do Not Touch: 1910

Christchurch, New Zealand, circa 1910. "Vacuum Cleaning Company machine at DIC store." Steffano Webb Photographic Studio glass negative. View full size.

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Three Numbers

My family moved to a small southeast Nebraska town in the early 1960s to run a hotel. That town had its own municipal telephone company. Every phone in town had a 3-digit number - our hotel had two lines, 117 and 118. To place a call, one lifted the receiver and waited for the operator to inquire, "Number please". After receiving it, she'd connect you. I don't remember how they dealt with long distance calls - I was grade school age, and such calls were expensive and therefore, rare. In the later '60s, our local company was bought out by a regional one based in Lincoln, and we finally got dial service with 7-digit numbers. Oh, how people complained about the "loss of service"!

How modern!

We have a "one lunger" hit and miss oil engine running what I believe might be an air pump from the condenser of a steam turbine. Turbines were fairly new technology at this time. Very cool.

This Really Sucks

With a vacuum motor that big you wonder how much suction it put out. If I were the family poodle, I'd be scared.

Telephone contacts

1. A 3 digit telephone number? Wow ...
2. Interesting that they have 2 numbers, one for evening. Chief salesman's house number, for those after-dinner sales questions?

Steam punks

The kids hanging around the steam-powered vacuum cleaner must be steam punks. It's nice to finally be able to make sense of that term.

Just Missed It

That sale last week.


The lady in the background lost her head after seeing seven men so interested in a vacuum cleaner.

And I thought

our old Kirby Classic III was cumbersome!


Bet that sucks.

Proper name for that machine

I believe that, technically speaking, that unit is a "contraption."

And the carefully placed chocks under the wheels were an important safety requirement, because no one wants a contraption rolling around unchecked in a crowded urban environment.

That would be bad.

SHORPY OLD PHOTO ARCHIVE | History in HD is a vintage photo archive featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1960s. (Available as fine-art prints from the Shorpy Archive.) The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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