This antique REDSTRONG hand crank wringer is a beautiful example of one of the most recognizable advancements in laundering from the late 1800’s. While the invention was purchased for absolutely practical reasons at the time, it is now popular for home or yard decor.
The wringer is labeled REDSTRONG. The name is embossed on the handles and faintly printed on the top of the wooden bar that flips down, along with the company name. From the information found, the REDSTRONG brand was a product of Shapleigh Hardware Company of St. Louis, MO.
It features red brass thumbscrews with the REDSTRONG label embossed on both sides and a two arched metal bars across the top. The red paint is still visible on the bottom arch. It is a heavy and solid piece made of cast metal and wood with a crank handle and clamps for attachment to a bucket or stand.
The bottom of the wooden flipboard reads “ENCLOSED COG WHEELS PATENTED MAY 5, 1896. PREVENT OIL FROM COMING IN CONTACT WITH THE RUBBER, ACCIDENTS TO FINGERS AND ADMIT OF EASY OILING OF THE BALL BEARINGS.”
Although the printing is faint and it is difficult to make out all the lettering, it appears the wording on the top of the wooden flipboard reads “SHAPLEIGH HARDWARE CO REDSTRONG ST. LOUIS, U.S.A.”
Shapleigh Hardware Company was founded in St. Louis in 1843 by Augustus Frederick Shapleigh (1810 – 1902), the son of a ship captain from Portsmouth, New Hampshire. The company went through several partnership and name changes before becoming Shapleigh Hardware in 1918. It was bought by Curtis Mfg. in 1955 and continued to operate until the early 1960’s.
Shapleigh was a major supplier of hardware and sold many house brands, including REDSTRONG and the famous Diamond Edge tools.
The back board appears to have once read “SHAPLEIGH HARDWARE CO.”
The arched top on this piece is distinct and must be somewhat rare, as most other hand wringers of the time have a flat, straight bar. The top thumbscrew turns to adjust the roller bars, while the other two thumbscrews adjust the clamps that attach the wringer to a bucket or stand.
With our modern day washing machines that clean clothes at the push of a button, it is easy to forget just how difficult it used to be to do laundry. Before the invention of the washer, washing clothes was done by hand, from hauling and heating water to scrubbing, rinsing, and wringing.
The hand-powered clothes wringer was a simple device developed sometime around 1861. The rubber rollers were held together with springs and connected by gears to a hand crank. The clothes were fed through the machine to squeeze the water out of clothes.
The wringer was fast, easy to use, and extremely popular in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s.