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Shaker Museum

Washer, Clothes

Hand-operated clothes washing machine, Sabbathday Lake, ME

Object ID:
Maine, Sabbathday Lake

Simple but sophisticated mechanism for a washing machine operated by hand. Mechanism constructed of cast iron and various species of wood. The operating handle and vertical supports are oak, the hanger dowel is beech, and the hangers and agitator assemblies are white pine. By rocking the handle or lever up and down, the iron shaft is rotated back and forth. This reciprocating motion is transferred to the two agitators by wheels held by projections from the shaft, one above and one below, which are housed in openings in the pine agitator hangers fitted with iron liners, As the wheels move back and forth along their arcuate path, the agitators are forced to swing back and forth in directions opposite each other.


The museum acquired only the agitator mechanism; the tub was fabricated by the museum without having seen the original, so it does not look at all like the actual tub. A machine with the original tub is in the collection of Hancock Shaker Village (1976.040.0002), and a model, probably a salesman's model, is in the collection of Sabbathday Lake, ME. See 1959.11400.1, a photograph of the model taken in 1959.

Maine Sabbathday Lake

Maine Sabbathday Lake

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Copyright of this artwork Citation rules

Citation rules

Shaker Museum Washer, Clothes. Accessed on April 21, 2024


1959.11400.1 - Print, Photographic - Model of wash mill or washing machine, Sabbathday Lake, ME



1959.11400.2 - Print, Photographic - Copy of photograph showing model of wash mill or washing machine, Sabbathday Lake, ME



Wash: There is no dirt in heaven (temporary exhibition)


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Shane Rothe

Curatorial Associate

Shane Rothe (they/them) joined Shaker Museum in July 2023, working with independent curator Maggie Taft on an exhibition for the new museum space in Chatham. Shane is an artist as well as a curator and continues to create in the mediums of painting, sculpture, writing, and performance. Shane holds a BFA from CalArts and an MA in art history and curatorial studies from the University of Chicago.