If you’re a lover of antiques, you won’t be surprised to hear that vintage vacuum cleaners have gained considerable retro appeal in the past decade. Besides making beautiful display items, the irresistible story behind these favored appliances has added to their charm as a collector’s item over the years.
The transformation timeline of the vacuum cleaner as a household appliance spans over 150 years. From being towed by horse-carts, to hovering over floors like a spacecraft in movies like Star Wars, here are the top collectable vacuum cleaners among collectors today.
1. Electrolux 1950s model
Swedish-based company Electrolux has produced vacuums since 1918. In the 1960s, the company successfully advertised its machines in Britain by using the slogan "Nothing sucks like an Electrolux". The word ‘sucks’ had a significantly negative association in the United States at the time, which lead many to believe that the slogan was a branding mistake. The campaign was however well planned and aimed to pull the attention of consumers, which it successfully did! Electrolux remains on the forefront of vacuum cleaning today.
2. My Little Queen series by Bissell
The first Bissell carpet cleaning machine was designed and built by Melville Bissell to assist the cleaning of his family’s crockery shop, which he managed with his wife, Anna. The early carpet cleaning machine was patented in 1876 as the Bissell Carpet Sweeper.
The cute, Bissell ‘Little Queen’ carpet sweeper and ‘Shampoo Master’ proved to be very popular in the 1960s.
3. Hoover 800
As with the brands mentioned above, Hoover’s history dates back quite far back. In 1907 Murray Spangler developed the first Hoover vacuum cleaner design. What many people don’t know, however, is that he was simply a janitor with an asthma problem at the time. Spangler’s boss, W.H. Hoover, who owned a leather product manufacturing shop, bought the patent from Spangler in 1908. Spangler was kept on as a partner, and soon had his
own production station in the corner of the leather goods factory.
The Hoover 800 experienced the height of its popularity between the 1950s and 1960s. The brand has become a generic term for vacuum cleaners around the world.
4. 1954 Model 82 Hoover Constellation
In a response to society’s obsession with space and the future, the Hoover Constellation was designed. The first models were not very effective, but were improved throughout the years. The model was discontinued in the mid 1970s.
5. Singer Deluxe model vacuum cleaner
In its early years, Singer exclusively sold sewing machines. In later years, the company expanded its product portfolio to include a range of household appliances. The Singer Deluxe vacuum was popular in the 1960s. In 1976, this vacuum cleaner would cost you $69.95, which converts to $57.50 today.
6. 1910s The Royal Lexon Standard
Royal Lexon sold over one million of these models in an era where only a few million homes had electricity.
7. Hoover Dustette 1926 model
The Hoover Dustette was the first handheld vacuum to be designed and sold by Hoover. The machine had a unique motor that gave it extreme durability. It is interesting to know that many Dustettes still work today.
8. Bissell Baby Sweeper and Bissell’s Utility Sweeper
One of the earliest carpet cleaning devises to be commercially sold includes
Bissell’s ‘Utility Sweeper’ and the Bissell ‘Baby Sweeper’; a much smaller toy model.
The Museum of Clean is home to an extensive collection of the earliest vacuum cleaners that were invented.
9. Hamilton Beach Model 14 (1950’s)
Hamilton Beach made a technical advancement in vacuum cleaning through this model, which could work on either AC or DC currents.
The Kirby Company usually only produced one model at a time. The company, until recent years, relied heavily on door-to-door sales, which did not garner a sterling reputation. In 1999, the Wall Street Journal published examples of complaints of "older customers who lack the will to stand up to grueling sales pitches." In one case an elderly couple was unable to remove three Kirby salesmen from their home for over five hours. In another case, a disabled woman was forcibly talked into buying a vacuum cleaner for $400 more than her monthly income despite the fact that she already owned a Kirby!
Check It Out: The Museum of Clean
The Museum of Clean is located at 711 South 2nd Avenue in Pocatello, Idaho. The museum features a massive exhibit devoted to the vacuum. Nearly 1,000 different models, from various makers, produced between 1869 and 1969, is on display. The interactive exhibit is one of the highlights of the museum.
Take a virtual tour of the Museum of Clean:
11. Interstate Engineering Corporation 1970s Model C-8
The Model C-8 may look like a standard vacuum cleaner, but in its day the Compact C-8 was one of the most durable and powerful vacuums on the market. The range was available in 1970s race car colors.
If you’d like to know where you can get your very own collectible vacuum cleaner, visit online stores such as The Find or Ebay.com. In addition to this, keeping an eye on Antique Trader is not a bad idea! You may also take a look at The Guardian’s list of best vintage and antique fairs to find antique selling points in your area.
About the contributing blogger: Bissell has been committed to making durable homes cleaner for over 130 years. Bissell offers a wide range of quick, floor, carpet and pet cleaning products.