Home & Garden

Vacuum cleaner has extensive history

Collecting vintage vacuum cleaners is a very narrow market.
Collecting vintage vacuum cleaners is a very narrow market. TNS

Q: When my brother-in-law passed away, we found this Regina Pneumatic Cleaner Model “F” in the garage. It was made in Rahway, New Jersey, and is a bit rusty but the information is still readable. We would like to know if this is a collector’s item.

S. S.

A: These necessary pieces of modern household equipment are deeply hated by children and teenagers who have to pull and push them around the house as part of their domestic chores — and adult homemakers of both sexes also hate them for the same reasons. Sure, they are better than an old-fashioned broom, but not by all that much.

The vacuum cleaner has a rather long history that predates the piece in today’s question by a wide margin. Just to be clear, a vacuum cleaner is a mechanical device that employs an air pump (a centrifugal fan in all but the oldest models) that creates a partial vacuum that is supposed to suck dirt particles off the floor and other surfaces.

The first vacuum cleaners used bellows to form the vacuum and were manually operated

The first manual vacuum cleaners used bellows to form the vacuum. These were developed in the 1860s with the first motorized examples invented around 1899. The early non-electrics are often referred to as “two-person pumpers” because one person had to pump while the other directed the nozzle.

The history of Regina began in 1889 when Gustav Brachausen and Paul Riessner created the Polyphon Musikwerke. In 1892 they branched out to the United States and established the Regina Music Box Co. in Jersey City, New Jersey.

In 1902 the company dropped the words “music box” from its name and began to diversify. The company made two-person pumpers, but they sold poorly.

In the 1930s, Regina introduced a canister vacuum, and in the 1940s it made stick models along with bomb fuses. In the 1980s, employees bought the company, but it was later acquired by Philips Electronics in 1995, Oreck in 1997 and the Royal Corp. in 2000. Royal produced vacuums under the Home Depot label.

We suggest that S. S. go to the Vacuumland website, www.vacuumland.org, where collectors exchange information about vintage vacuums. Some collectors on the site are enthusiastic about the Regina Model A, but values are not mentioned.

On auction sites, the Regina Model A with its case and hoses sells for about $150, but the Regina vacuum in today’s question is a Model F and appears to be highly incomplete without its hoses or case (this may be a problem with the photographs that were sent). Because of this, the piece may have only a small value of less than $75.

Write to Joe Rosson, 2504 Seymour Ave., Knoxville, TN 37917, or email treasures@knology.net. Include a high-resolution, in-focus photo of the subject.