SHORPY Historic Photo Archive & Fine-Art Prints
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About the Photos

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.

© 2018 SHORPY INC.

[REV 25-NOV-2014]

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Rag Washer: 1915

Rag Washer: 1915

Washington, D.C., circa 1915. "Rag washer." This is probably at the Bureau of Engraving and Printing. Harris & Ewing Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Early American

What you are looking at is an old "American" side-load split-pocket washer. Basically a horizontal axis machine with the loading doors on the side. If you look to the right of the operator, you will see the old belt and pulley system that powered the machine. Since the machines back then didn't have an extract cycle, they would put them into a top load extractor and spin the water out. Surprisingly the side loader hasn't changed much with the exception of built in extract and a micro. Almost every manufacturer has one similar. Awesome pic.

Laundry service

My home in 1955-1957, a Navy destroyer, had one of these (or very similar) in the ship's laundry.

Any rags today?

This one's kind of a puzzler. The machine could be a large rotating drum that was used to break down old rags into fiber, for the making of "rag paper." The rags the the man is feeding into into it seem to be too far gone for any other use. Note all the pipes and valves, and apparently a vertical boiler in the background: whatever the operation was for, it was steam-powered.

[As noted in the caption, this is a washing machine. The rags were used to wipe the ink off intaglio printing plates. - Dave]

SHORPY HISTORICAL 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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