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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

An Antique Washing Machine

In 1861 a British lady who lived in Cape Town, wrote:

“It is an amazing sight to stroll up towards ‘Platteklip’ in the afternoon, and there watch the hundreds of dusky damsels lathering and wringing, banging and pounding our unfortunate garments in the brooks that come leaping down from ‘Table Mountain’. The bushes are covered for miles with snowy clothing; and these women are obliged to be up very early indeed in the morning to secure the pools for washing”

I love this piece, don’t you? It goes further to describe the little kids playing around the washerwomen.

I came upon this washing machine with a wooden barrel in our large Darling Museum. According to an online booklet : “history of washing” (P&G) , the middle of the nineteenth century witnessed the appearance of upright hand-powered washing machines with drums. Now that really saved the back as well as the hands of the laundresses! Unfortunately, at that stage washing detergents were still a long way off!

How to paint a washing machine in a museum? I found an image of a vintage poster for Persil and decided to paint it for the background. Those Persil ads were so clever: the pictures had clean lines and the colour scheme was limited to two shades of blue, a bright red and lots of pure white. The laundress shows cheeky blond curls, a pencil skirt, high heels and LOTS of make-up!

1 comment:

  1. Sources for the above painting and story:

    "Life at the Cape over a hundred years ago" BY A LADY - Struik Publishers

    -history of washing- Proctor and Gamble online down-loadable 16 page booklet



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