"New-fangled" Antique Washboard

I recently purchased this antique washboard and have it offered for sale in my booth. I've never owned a washboard before, in fact I don't recall ever seeing anyone use one. I was curious about this one in particular, so I did some research and came to the conclusion that perhaps it's time to bring washboards back into fashion.

This particular washboard was manufactured by the National Washboard Company (circa 1915). It's a nice solid washboard made of wood and I believe the metal is zinc. It's obviously been used, but it's about a hundred years old, so in really good shape all things considered. It would look great displayed in a laundry room, but I think it could be put to functional use again when needed.

The ledge area reads "National Washboard Co., Chicago / Saginaw / Memphis/, SOAPSAVER, Trademark Reg US Pat Off, Made in USA, No. 196, PAT. Sept 7, 1915."

New-Fangled Washboards

 Advertisement (Repository, Canton, OH, 6/20/1906)
While doing research I found an old newspaper advertisement from 1906 for Fels-naptha soap which basically argued that you didn't need to purchase one of the "new-fangled washboards", but instead simply use Fels-naptha and wash by hand. That made me chuckle because I actually use Fels-naptha for laundry. (I also use it as a final step to clean my paint brushes so they don't get a musty smell.) By the way, there is no affiliate or sponsorship for the this product.

Increase Your Bust Size (Seriously!)

Popularity of the washboards decreased with the advent of the modern washing machines, but I was surprised to find articles about washboards being used as late as the 1970's. In one article published in The Plain Dealer (Cleveland, OH / Washington Post Service / 11-25-1971) it stated that a gentleman wrote to the National Washboard Company explaining that his 46 year old wife used a washboard for a few years and claimed it increased her bust size from a 32B to a 34C "with the same weight and measurements elsewhere". I have no idea if this claim is true or not!

How to Use a Washboard

Don't know how to use a washboard? Google it! Yes there are a number of videos online about how to use a washboard. But basically you place the clothing in a tub of hot water. Either rub the clothing with lye soap or add your favorite brand of detergent to the water. Let soak then rub the clothing article in a kneading motion on the washboard. The kneading process pushes the soapy water through the fabric and forces the dirt out. Next rinse in a clean tub of water. Ring out the excess water and hang to dry.  

Washboards for a Modern Society

I'm not ready to give up my washer and dryer just yet. But with today's focus on environmentally friendly alternatives using a washboard to supplement a family's laundry might be an option. The good-old washboard would also benefit anyone that doesn't have a washer/dryer or easy access to a laundromat. Would you (or do you) use a washboard?

[Research of historical newspapers conducted through Genealogy Bank]


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