Our antiques expert appraises a Boss mechanical washing machine to help determine what it's worth today.
We bought this Boss washing machine at a local farm auction and would love to know more about it. On the top, it indicates patent dates “Mar 7, 1899-Apr 20, 1902.”
—E.D., Conklin, Michigan
What’s It Worth?
A: Mechanical washing machines have eased laundry day since 1874, when the first—made of wood and powered by a hand crank—was invented. Often made of southern cypress or cottonwood, they agitated clothes by churning, tumbling, twisting or rocking.
Yours squeezed the clothes by rubbing them between a smooth and a corrugated surface. And although that corrugated barrel you see when you raise the lid looks pretty rough, the company claimed the machine’s round, smooth rubbing cylinder wouldn’t tear quilts or curtains! It’s enough to make me go hug my automatic washer.
The Boss Washing Machine Company of Cleveland, Ohio began in 1891, claiming its products were “the greatest saver of household labor ever invented.” Yours, the No. 1 model, features front casters that allowed the user to move the machine near the clothesline—before it was filled, that is!
Boss also promised buyers that this model’s solid-wood construction and covered seams on the bottom of the galvanized tub meant it wouldn’t leak. Today, it’s valued at $200.
—Barbara J. Eash (Country Woman Magazine’s Antiques Expert)