Tank Cleaner
Introduced in 1927

from the Collection of
Charles Richard Lester

Well, dear readers, the "Sweeper Genii" has zapped me again, I am very happy to report.

This time, a beautiful Electrolux Model XI has found its way into my home, and I just can't tell you how thrilled I am to have this beautiful new addition to my Electrolux collection.

How did this come about? Well, an eBay seller had listed an Electrolux Model XXX. There was nothing particularly distinctive about it -- it was not in great condition, did not have any attachments except for a later replacement vinyl hose. And even at that, the hose was in pretty sad shape. But for some reason, I bid on it and was the only bidder. I believe my winning bid was something like $1.99!

As it turned out, the seller was local -- lives in Venice about 20 minutes from me. So I made arrangements to just go pick the machine up instead of his having to fool with boxing and shipping it. When I got out there, we got to talking about Electrolux and I told him why I had been interested in his XXX - because I collect old vacuum cleaners. Well, he told me the thrilling news that his grandfather had been an Electrolux salesman some time generally in the 1940s through 1960s. He said that back at his parents' home in Washington there were a lot of old photos and stuff of his grandfather. I mentioned that I'd sure like to see them and perhaps incorporate some of the material into my Electrolux History web site.

He said he would be going back to his parents' home over the Labor Day weekend, and would bring some of those materials back. Which he did, and I arranged to go by there to see them.

To finally get to the point of the story (yes, I do love to blab, but you know I am also very dramatic and have to "set the scene!") --- He also told me on the phone that he had also brought back an old Electrolux that was his grandfather's. He said it was "still in the box -- a Model E."

Well. Anyone who knows anything at all about me knows that the Model E is my absolutely favorite model of Electrolux! That I have five of them in mint condition did not diminish my interest in having another, nor deter me from offering to buy the guy's grandfather's sweeper if he wanted to sell it.

So I made an appointment to go out to Venice. Meanwhile, the guy called and said that "by the way," he got a closer look at the cleaner and thought that maybe the vacuum cleaner in the box was not a Model E, that it appeared to be older than that (based on the very detailed description of the Model E that I gave him).

He said, in fact, that the machine in the box was from Sweden.

Hmmmmmmm... I thought most likely it would be a Model XII. While the XII is fairly scarce now, it's not impossible to find one, and it would make sense that someone might have traded in their old XII for an E and used the E box to store the old machine.

I did not for a second imagine -- let alone dare hope -- that it might be something older than an XII -- say, a model XI -- the very machine that my collection was lacking to make it complete in terms of representing the first 50 years of American Electrolux.

(Well, I should say I do have an XI but in nowhere nearly as nice shape as this one; and I did not have any of the tools or attachments. To see that the original woven cloth hose survived for, what, 70-some years in nearly mint shape ... well, that's just more than I could imagine ever finding.)

So, anywaaaay, I went out to see the sweeper and to see the photos of his grandfather. Imagine my heart palpitations when he flipped up the top of the Model E box and I saw that inside was ... none other than a Model XI! And not just some crappy old, beat up Model XI, but one in incredibly beautiful and all-original condition! All I needed to do to make it truly beautiful was to do a little sprucing up with some glass wax on the metal parts, and some furniture polish on the leatherette. Most exciting of all was the hose -- clearly this is the original hose and, as you will see from the following photos, it is in unbelievable shape!

So, of course, I did offer to acquire the machine. The purchase price did hurt a little, I have to say honestly, but you know... this IS my one and only real passion -- in terms of material things. So, I figgered, how often is something like this going to come along? I knew I had to buy it if at all possible, especially when he mentioned that he had thought about just keeping the machine to use for tidying up his workshop. As Billy "I'm not mad" Lipman would say ... CAN YOU IMAGINE?!

As part of the purchase price, I offered to also make a special set of web pages about his grandfather, which he seemed enthusiastic about. He did in fact lend me the photos he brought back so that I can scan them and start working on the site. Let me tell you, my dear fellow vintage vacuum cleaners ... the photos are gonna knock your socks off! And I think that this new section of my "Electrolux History" site is going to be something really special -- both to me and my fellow "sweeper nuts" as well as to the Electrolux Man's family, especially those who knew and remember him.

(Update: The George Nilson page has now been completed! See George Nilson, Electrolux Salesman.)

A final thought -- the guy and I had talked about how this Model XI ended up in a Model E box. I had said that maybe a customer had bought a new Model E and stuck the old XI in the E box to store it, as that did happen very often. I have found quite a few vintage Electroluxes tucked into newer boxes.

However, after mulling it over, I'd came to think that maybe his grandfather had gotten the XI as a trade-in and he hung onto it because of its condition and age. Surely he would have had a few empty sweeper boxes around the place that he used to store stuff and there you have it -- into a "new" E box went the XI, most likely. Even in the 1940s-'50s, a Model XI machine would have been 20-30 years old. And, as some of you well know, some vacuum cleaner salesmen do have a soft spot for old machines. When one would come along in a trade-in that was still in nice shape, it would not be at all unusual for the salesman to hang on to it.

Or, I thought, MAYBE he just hung on to it for the simple reason that it was from the "Mother-Land" -- Sweden... (The salesman is of Swedish extraction.)

However, the guy I got it from said, "The collection bag was filled with my grandma's turquoise carpet fuzz. This leads me to believe that it was used in their home. How they came to own the machine, I can't tell you."

"Well," I wrote back, "the turquoise fuzz is an interesting angle! And let me say that turquoise is one of my two favorite colors (purple is the other). So, not even knowing her, I am now QUITE fond of Grandma Nilson. Anyone who would have turquoise carpeting is okay in my book!!"


And, now, after keeping you on the edge of your seats -- uh ... yoo-hoo ... *ahem* ... Hey ... "HARRUMPH" ... HEY, YOU! WAKE UP!!!

Heh heh ... Anyway, on the following pages are some photos of my new treasure!



(Page One)

Page Two

Page Three

Page Four

Page Five

Electrolux History

My Website “Home Page”


Please note that this entire Website (1377731.com), and all text and some images* therein, are copyright © 1995-2006 by Charles Richard Lester. You are welcome to disseminate information or graphics from this site for non-commercial use only but only after requesting — and receiving — permission by its author (me). Please apply to Charles Richard Lester: one_three_sevenat1377731.com (change "at" to the "@" symbol). Thank you for appreciating the value of creativity.

(*If you’re not sure whether or not a given image is in public domain, just send an email and ask.)

THIS APPLIES WITH SPECIFICITY AND, IN PARTICULAR, TO EBAY AUCTIONS. Under NO circumstances is anyone EVER permitted to use text, photos or images from my web site — or to put links to my site — on their ebay listings, or on any other similar auction web sites.