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Most of the photos on this site were extracted from reference images (high-resolution tiffs, 20 to 200 megabytes in size) from the Library of Congress research archive. (To query the database click here.) Many were digitized by LOC contractors using a Sinar studio back. They are adjusted by your webmaster for contrast and color in Photoshop before being downsized and turned into the jpegs you see here.

 
 
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VINTAGRAPH • WPA • WWII • ABOUT PARIS, 1895

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.

 

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]

 
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Shorpy.com | History in HD is a vintage photo blog featuring thousands of high-definition images from the 1850s to 1950s. The site is named after Shorpy Higginbotham, a teenage coal miner who lived 100 years ago.

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