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Heidelberg Historical Society

Eye Spy: Vacuum Cleaners

Posted on Friday, 18th August 2023 by Janine Rizzetti

Did you have one of these in your house? The oldest cleaner, seen at the front of the photo, is the Regina Pneumatic vacuum cleaner from the early 1900s. It weighed 12 kg (26 lbs) and was hand-operated, with a wooden handle which was moved from side to side to create the suction inside the barrel.

Then to the left we have the Electrolux ZC89 barrel cleaner which was produced between 1961-1971. It had long metal runners, rather than wheels. For decades Electrolux was sold door-to-door, not through shops.

Finally, to the right, we have a Hoover Lark from c. 1971, which was considered a ‘low-priced’ upright cleaner, costing about $73.00 in the early 1970s. It had four position height adjustment to enable cleaning of short-pile as well as the new shag-pile carpets. Its light weight, and horizontal handle position for cleaning under furniture made vacuuming “effortless and easy”.

We Australians loved our vacuum cleaners, with a 1964 Swedish study showing that Australia had the world’s second largest number of vacuum cleaners per house, with 90% of houses owning one. And which country had the most? New Zealand.

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