It is always interesting to look back at our old technology and observe in awe how fast we as humans have been able to improve and develop. The same goes for washing machines; only a hundred years ago we didn’t even have the concept of what is nowadays referred to as a washing machine. But, here we are, in 2023, where not only every household has one, but they are so technologically advanced that you can even speak to your washing machine and give it orders.

But, for our nostalgic readers, these new washing machines aren’t that interesting; what we all want to know is how the antique ones worked, how did they look like, and most importantly, where can we buy one today? In the following paragraphs, we’ll briefly go over the history of the washing machine and focus on places where these are available for purchase. Of course, we’ll provide you with different options, for different budgets. So, without further ado, let’s jump right in!

Vintage Washing Machines 101

Vintage Washing Machines

History and Origin

Until the 18th century, we as humans only knew how to hand-wash our clothes. Now, that was a painful experience, especially in the colder months. Most people would go to the nearby river to wash their garments, while others would collect water and wash their clothes in big barrels or tubs.

Luckily, in 1767, a German professor named Jacob Christian Schäffer decided it is time to make this process easier and provided the world with, what is nowadays referred to as, the first designs of a hand-cranked washing machine. The first washing machine was a wooden drum, featuring a handle that you would turn to ‘wash’ the clothes in soapy water. It would take us another hundred years to come up with an electric washing machine, and another hundred, meaning in the 1900s, to have these washing machines widely available for regular households.

As washing machines developed, so did the market for the companies developing them. The first known person that started selling washing machines was Edward Beetham, in 1787 in the UK, and ten years later, Nathaniel Briggs would do the same in the USA, selling his Box Mangler washing machine. Both pieces were incredibly expensive and super difficult to operate. Not to mention that these washing machines were enormous.

In the 1800s, there emerged other notable washing machine companies, including Hamilton-Smith, Blackstone, and Brandford machines. These were considerably smaller and available for households; sure, those households still needed to be big, and these machines ended up being most suitable for hotels and the navy.

Only in the 19th century did we see the development of washing machines operated and powered by electricity, but most of the ‘new’ washing machines ended up being steam-operated. It will take several decades to see Alva Fisher seeling the first electric washing machine in the US, under the name The Thor. The washing machine was sold by Hurley Electric Laundry Equipment Company, starting in 1907.

Antique Washing Machine Value

Antique Washing Machine

One of the biggest tells when it comes to determining whether an antique piece is genuine or fake is the price. Unfortunately, we cannot simply rely on the seller, to be honest, and provides us with an honest price; we also need to know a little bit about the washing machines and the marketplace to know whether the price is ‘honest’.

So far, we’ve determined that antique washing machines, in pristine condition, often cost between 200 USD and 700 USD. There are, of course, antique washing machine models that cost up to 3000 USD; these are truly antique, still working models dating back to the late 19th, and early 20th century. One such machine is the 1912 Easy Washing machine (Model M), which is currently being sold for 2,500 USD.

Maytag washing machines also seem to be significantly more expensive than Graybars. For example, an antique Graybar washing machine in decent condition can cost up to 125 USD, which is an excellent alternative for those with a tighter budget.

Now, because most of these antique items get sold out pretty quickly, it can be hard to follow the marketplace and the change of the price. An excellent website to visit, if you want to know the value history of certain items, is Mavin. Here, you can type in the product you’re looking for and the site will list out all of the current or past auctions, with the prices for the items. For example, the site shows that antique Maytags, in excellent condition, have been sold for up to 800 USD, in the past 3 years.

The current For Sale part of the website has some excellent listings as well, with antique Maytags being sold for prices between 130 USD and 350 USD, depending on the quality and condition of he item.  Kenmore Wringer washing machines are being sold for up to 500 USD, which is definitely in line with the history of the marketplace for this particular brand. There are also vintage Maytag washers available for up to 1000 USD, which means they’re not only in excellent condition but also work. So, if you want to wash your clothes in an antique washing machine, this is the sale you’ve been waiting for.

If you’re not looking for an antique washing machine, but rather spare parts for restoration purposes, you should be able to find them on this website as well. Currently (at the time of writing and publishing this article), there are numerous spare parts for Maytag Wringer washers, costing up to 80 USD (for things like pump housing, drain hoses, agitators, upper roller hangers, and similar stuff).

If you’re unsure of how the prices on this website compare with the actual average cost of the items in the marketplace, you can always click the Comparable button (found next to each listed item), and you’ll see the average price change in the upper right corner. That price is the average price for the current marketplace demand, which puts you in perspective and helps you figure out whether the product you’re checking out is worth the money or not.

How To Buy a Vintage Washing Machine?

Vintage Antiqe Washing Machines

Buying vintage washing machines can be an exciting experience for those who are passionate about antique appliances or simply want to own a piece of history. Vintage washing machines come in various types and designs, each with unique features and characteristics. However, buying a vintage washing machine requires some research and consideration to ensure that you get the right one for your needs and budget.

Here are some important factors to consider when buying a vintage washing machine:

  • Type of Vintage Washing Machine – Before making a purchase, it is important to determine the type of vintage washing machine you want. Vintage washing machines come in several types, including wringer washers, electric washing machines, and mangles. Consider your washing needs, space constraints, and personal preferences when choosing the type of vintage washing machine.
  • Condition – People don’t usually expect old washing machines to be in good condition, but this is a really important factor when determining the cost and the value of the item. Make sure to check for any rust or damage on the body, tubs, or other components. Check for any cracks or other damage to the body, and inspect the inner workings for any issues. A washing machine in good condition will last longer and perform better, but it will surely cost you more as well.
  • Brand – Some brands are more reliable and sought-after than others, like Maytag or Graybar. Consider the brand of the vintage washing machine when making your purchase, and research the brand’s history and reputation. Brands that have a long history of making quality washing machines are often more reliable and worth more money.
  • Cost – Vintage washing machines can be expensive, so it is important to set a budget and stick to it. Determine the maximum amount you are willing to spend and compare the prices of different vintage washing machines to find one that fits within your budget.
  • Availability of Parts – When buying a vintage washing machine, it is important to consider the availability of parts that you may need to replace or change in order for the machine to work. Some vintage washing machines are more difficult to find parts for, which can make repairs and maintenance more difficult. Consider the availability of parts before making a purchase. We’ve determined that you can buy spare parts for vintage washing machines on eBay.
  • Restoration – If you are looking for a vintage washing machine to use, consider the cost and time required for restoration. Restoration can be a demanding and time-consuming process, and it may require a significant investment of time and money. If you’re not willing to do much or any of the restoration work, then you may re-think buying a vintage washing machine.
  • Purchase Location – Vintage washing machines can be found at various places, including flea markets, estate sales, and online websites intended for purchasing and selling vintage items (more on this in the following paragraphs). When buying from a flea market or estate sale, it is important to inspect the washing machine in person before making a purchase; meaning, you also need to know what to look for.

When buying online, consider the reputation of the seller as well as the website, and be cautious of online scams because many seem to be selling vintage, genuine items, but in reality, are selling fakes and replicas.

  • Expert Opinion – Before making a purchase, consider seeking the opinion of an expert in vintage washing machines. An expert can help you identify any potential problems and assist you in making an informed purchase. Also, make sure to consult expert appraisal services, available online, to know how much money exactly should you spend on a vintage washing machine.

Once you have considered these factors, you are ready to start your search for the perfect vintage washing machine. Take your time and be patient, as the right vintage washing machine may take some time to find.

Where To Find and Purchase Antique Washing Machines?

As we(ve mentioned, flea markets and online websites seem to be the best places to purchase antique washing machines. Let’s talk about some of the most reliable places, especially in the online world, where you can make safe and reliable purchases, without online scams.

So, our top favorite place to seek vintage washing machines online is, of course, Etsy. However, their people don’t really sell fully antique washing machines; you’ll find more vintage washing machines dating 1950s, to the 1970s. Most of the time, this isn’t what people are looking for when wanting to purchase antique machines, so you might as well skip this one.

Checking out eBay is definitely a must if you want to find truly antique washing machines. There you will find vintage or antique Maytag Wringer and Graybar washing machines in exceptional condition, among others. Spare parts and restoration parts are also available. If you’re looking for washing machines from the 19th century, you’ll find them here as well. Hall Richardson Little Washer from 1871, even the antique/primitive hand-carved washing boards are also available.

There is also a website called PicClick, where you can find an abundance of antique washing machines and spare parts. The site operates in such a manner that it does all the research for you; you type in what you’re looking for and it will filter the Internet search and present you the best offers; it generally pulls the best deals from sites like eBay. On PicClick, you’ll mostly find Maytags and Graybars, but there are also washing machines from other brands and manufacturers, like ABC Liberty Washers, Kenmore Washers, etc.

Of course, if online purchases aren’t really your thing, you can always check out local flea markets and estate sales. However, when buying from a flea market or estate sale, it is important to inspect the washing machine in person before making a purchase; meaning, you also need to know what to look for. So, try to educate yourself as much as possible on antique washing machines, so you end up buying a genuine piece and not a replica.

Final Thoughts

Buying a vintage washing machine can be an exciting and rewarding experience. However, it requires careful consideration of various factors, including the type of washing machine, condition, brand, price, availability of parts, restoration, purchase location, and expert opinion.

By following these tips, you can find the perfect vintage washing machine for your needs and budget. Make sure to also do your research and educated yourself about these washing machines as possible. Only then will you be able to make a good purchasing decision, and avoid online or other types of scams. We wish you good luck and may you find the best antique washing machine!

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