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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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Dead Wringer: 1920

Dead Wringer: 1920

"Union Barber Supply washing machine circa 1920." All I can say here is watch your fingers. National Photo Company Collection glass negative. View full size.

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Industrial Design

Industrial Design was in its infancy in those days, the same with consumer lobbies. Imagine one of these things coming today to the market, possibly it won't endure even a day (not to speak of the company that produces it, it would bankrupt instantly with demands).

[This is not a store-bought washing machine -- it's a laundry tub with a motor kit attached. - Dave]

For Whom the Wringer Rolls

You could set the wringer rolls for different spaces between them. How do I know this? Because I too was a member of the Curious Kids Klub who put an arm through the wringer. Luckily it was set wide, no harm done. The rollers turned from the power of the washer, so they were hypnotic to watch.

Up to Date

This wringer was a modern and up-to-date model, with an electric motor. I remember that my grandmother made do with a hand-cranked one.


Some time later they put the wringer on the washer. In the 1970s I had a friend that had an older wringer washer and a newer spin-washer. She liked the wringer-washer more than her spin-washer.

Maytag and Easy

I believe I was selling Both Maytag and Easy wringer/washers well into the 1960s.

U.S. Arm

In 1960 in France my family had a wringer washer. My oldest sister, who was 2, was "helping" Mom with the wash. She got her arm caught in the wringer. Dad took her to the base hospital, where the doc said without really looking at it that they would have to take her arm off. Dad threw a fit and took her to a French hospital, where they saved her arm, of which she has full use to this day.

A side story is that Mom was pregnant. The stress from the accident put her in labor and my brother was born the next day.


My father-in-law calls it a mangle. Apparently mangle is what the English call a wringer. Sounds more in line with the fingers and toes theme.

Ice Cream Parlor Chairs

My folks have one of those "wire chairs." The exact same thing.

It's the most uncomfortable thing ever invented to sit on. I've always imagined it must have had a cushion originally but I see from your photo that maybe it never did.

Wringer Legends

According to the legends I always heard, fingers weren't the part of human anatomy most commonly caught in a wringer.


Having nearly lost my fingers to just such a contraption at age 9, I can verify the great danger in these. It's like a siren call to little kids.

... in fact, I feel the pull now ...

Love that wire chair!

I'd love to have a few of those. The local soda fountain had those when I was a kid. They weren't comfortable, but it kept us kids from hanging out there too long!

The lady on the wall

She's flat as a board! Guess she's been through the wringer.


Some recent posts have me hoping for a new tag category for photos. Maybe we can get an "appliances' tag like we have the "cars and trucks", "kids", "storefronts" type tags. Waddaya say?

[It is a good idea. The problem is the time it takes yours truly to go through the thousands of pictures already on the site to find the ones that would fit the category. - Dave]

At the End of Her Rope

Looks like she hanged herself rather than face using that contraption again. Wouldn't that make her a dead wringerer?


...and toes! I like the disembodied feet right above the washing machine. I wonder what the rest of that poster looked like--it must have been almost life-sized.

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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