Q: I own a small wringer-style clothes washer that I think is a salesman’s sample. It’s 7 inches wide, 8 inches tall and about 4 inches deep. It has a 10-inch-long metal handle with a wooden grip. The words “American Wringer Company, N.Y.” are stamped on the wood. It’s also marked with a horseshoe and the initials “AWC.” I bought it in a thrift store for $20. Can you tell me if it’s a salesman’s sample and what it might be worth?
A: The first mechanical clothes wringer was invented by Selden A. Bailey in 1859. Bailey began producing wringers in 1860 and founded the Bailey Wringer Co. in Woonsocket, R.I., a short time later. The company became the American Wringer Co. in 1899. It remained in business until the 1950s. Your wringer is probably not a salesman’s sample. It may have been made to launder lingerie or other small items. Small wringers like yours sell for about $100 to $200.