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7 Old-Timey Appliances No One Uses Anymore

You Are Here:   Home > Automatic Appliance Parts Blog > 7 Old-Timey Appliances No One Uses Anymore

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In today's society, we've witnessed how advances in technology have changed everything from the way we listen to music to the way we talk on the phone. These advances have even changed a variety of appliances we use around the house. Appliances that were once commonplace are now curiosities that most people have no idea how to use. Check out some of the iconic old-timey appliances that have become obsolete.

1. Icebox



Image via Flickr by quinet

For centuries, people have known they can use ice to preserve their food. However, they couldn't do this at home until the invention of the icebox, which was the precursor to the refrigerator. To use an icebox, people would place a block of ice above a sealed compartment to keep their perishables fresh for about two days. Because the ice would eventually melt, resupplying the icebox was one of those regular household tasks. Homes would put out a sign that said, "Ice Today," so the ice wagon would know to stop there and deliver fresh ice.

2. Bed Warmer

If you've ever shivered as you climb into a cold bed at night, you might wish you had a bed warmer. To use this old-fashioned device, people would place hot coals or ashes in a copper skillet with a long handle. They would then slide this skillet over the sheets to warm everything before climbing into bed.

Families that couldn't afford this type of luxurious device would sometimes place a brick warmed by the fire under their sheets. Unlike the modern electric blanket, the bed warmer and brick didn't have inconvenient cords to deal with. Of course, they would also lose all their warmth well before morning.

3. Meat Grinder

Long before the days of fast-food restaurants and grocery stores on every corner, households that wanted to enjoy ground meat had to make it themselves with a meat grinder. This antique device would attach to a table and allow people to mince small cuts of meat into their own ground beef, bologna, and sausage via a hand crank. Although they're called meat grinders, homeowners could also use them to grind nuts and vegetables.

Grinders were typically made of cast iron or steel and were nearly indestructible. If you want to produce your own ground meat at home, you might be able to find one of these old devices at a flea market or garage sale for around $5 to $15. Or you can purchase an electric meat grinder that can reduce your time and labor.

4. Charcoal Iron

If you think it's dangerous to use an iron today, imagine trying to remove wrinkles from your clothes before the invention of electricity by using a charcoal iron. This old-fashioned device used hot coals to press out wrinkles.

The charcoal iron was actually considered a step up from the flat iron. Flat irons would eventually lose their heat and have to go back into the fire to warm up. Charcoal irons had a chamber between the handle and the bottom of the iron that could hold the hot coals, keeping them hotter for longer. Of course, this also made them bigger and heavier. Our ancestors would laugh at the idea that we now use dumbbells to exercise our arm muscles because these charcoal irons could weigh up to 15 pounds.

5. Hot Water Reservoir

Everything from cooking and cleaning to washing and bathing works better with hot water. However, at one time that didn't mean turning on the faucet and waiting for the hot water heater to send warm water your way. Instead, it meant building a fire, getting a bucket, going to the well, hauling out the water, carrying it back to the fire, and waiting for it to warm.

In the late 19th century, cast-iron stove manufacturers came up with a new idea: the hot water reservoir. This iron box attached to the side of the stove and used the heat from the stove to warm the water. When the stove was in use, households had warm water on hand whenever they needed it. Some hot water reservoirs even had a mechanism that let people pump water directly from the well into the reservoir, so they didn't even have to lug water over to it.

6. Hand-Cranked Wringer Washer

While using a hand-cranked wringer to wash clothes doesn't sound convenient, it sure beat the old method of pounding clothes with rocks or scrubbing them back and forth over a washboard. The first hand-cranked washers hit the market in the early 1900s. However, they didn't last long. By 1911, Maytag had placed a small electric motor in these models to make them even easier to use. By the 1920s, companies were producing both electric and gas-powered washers.

While you might assume the modern washing machine has completely replaced the hand-cranked washer, think again. Some companies are marketing new models as a socially conscious and off-grid way to do laundry.

7. Coffee Grinder

Even back in the 1800s, people enjoyed sipping on an energizing cup of coffee in the morning. In most of rural America, people would have to purchase their coffee beans at the general store and have them ground there. However, in 1798, Thomas Bruff applied for the first U.S. patent for a coffee grinder. Not only was Bruff an inventor but he was also Thomas Jefferson's dentist.

In a letter Bruff wrote to Jefferson in 1801 describing his invention, he said his wall-mounted coffee mill was able to grind a pound of coffee in four-and-a-half minutes. Over time, coffee shops have largely replaced making coffee at home. However, you can purchase an electric coffee grinder if you still want to enjoy freshly ground beans without leaving home.

At Automatic Appliance Parts Corporation, all types of appliances fascinate us, including these old-fashioned devices most people don't use anymore. Have you ever tried one of these antique appliances? Please feel free to contact us and let us know. We'd love to hear about your experience!