This photo, from the ‘Museum of Found Photographs’ on Flickr.com, measures 8 x 10 inches, photographer and exact location unknown. It was found in southern Ohio. Everyone in this image appears to be very pleased with the family’s new washing machine save the young daughter on the right who seems indifferent. Note the son is smoking a pipe just like his father. ‘1911’ appears on the roof of the building structure in the background, which gives us an approximate age of this photograph.
Compare the closeup of this B&W photo (below left) with the studio shot of the ‘1900’ brand washer, ca. 1907 (below right). If you rotate the studio photo 180 degrees so that the ‘1900’ logo faces away from you, the gear mechanism and the clamp key circled in the closeup suggest that our Ohio family are the proud owners of this washing machine brand.
“It is believed that the 1900 company was the first to mass produce and market the electric washing machine,” says Dr. Lee Reynolds, author of Save Womens Lives—History of Washing Machines. He cites an article by a B. D. Flower in the December 1907 issue of The Arena, No. 217, page 593, whose accompanying photo shows a lady reading a newspaper while her washing is done by an electric powered washing machine manufactured by the Nineteen Hundred Company, proving that the electric washer was being manufactured by at least that date.
The Nineteen Hundred Company was the ancestor of the company we know today as Whirlpool. The Binghamton, NY company merged in 1929 with the Upton Machine Company of St. Joseph, MI, which had been making washers for Sears Roebuck & Co. since 1916. In 1948 the company, still called The Nineteen Hundred Company, began marketing Whirlpool brand washers. The manufacturer added automatic dryers to its product line in 1950 and changed its name to Whirlpool Corporation.
“It is estimated that there were over 1,000 companies producing washing machines during the early 1900s,” says Reynolds, who holds the Guinness World Record for his collection of antique washing machines, numbering 1,060.
“Most of these companies were very small but almost all would have had the wherewithal to manufacture at least one electric washer. By 1900 small electric motors were sold with the intention that householders would connect them to hand cranked washing machines.”
Save Womens Lives—History of Washing Machines, by Lee Reynolds, Oldewash Publishing, Eaton, CO, 2003