By Emily Beliveau, Digital Project Assistant

Santa holding toy sweepers with children and ad text below

A 1910 Christmas ad for Bissell Toy Sweepers that appeared in Hardware Merchandising (Oct-Dec 1910, p. 943). Source: Internet Archive.

Need a last-minute gift idea for Christmas? How about a carpet sweeper? According to this 1910 advertisement, they are a great gift for both children and adults:

The Little Folk drop all other gifts to welcome Santa Claus and his Bissel Toy Sweeper. The lady of the house will appreciate even more than the children a gift of a genuine Bissel Sweeper. She knows there is none better and that it means a great saving of hard work for the coming ten years. We offer a large line to select from, varying in price from $2.50 to $5.00

Carpet sweepers were the forerunner to vacuum cleaners, but remained popular even after vacuums became widely available. They consist of a small box at the end of a handle with rollers and brushes inside to sweep up dirt and crumbs. Although vacuum cleaners have more cleaning power, sweepers remain popular for light-duty cleaning because they can be used quietly and without electricity.

Carpet sweeper resting against general store counter

Bissell ‘Standard’ carpet sweeper on display in the General Store exhibit in the History Hall, Huron County Museum. Object ID: M950.1255.001.

We have several carpet sweepers in the museum collection, one of which is on display in the General Store exhibit. Our display sweeper is a Bissell ‘Standard’ model from around 1919, some 40 years after sweepers were first invented. Melvill R. Bissell first patented the design in 1876, and the basic technology has remained the same since then.

Image from patent US182346-0, illustrating inner workings of carpet sweeper mechanism

First patent for a carpet sweeper, granted to M. R. Bissell in 1876. Source: Google Patent Search.

So if you don’t know what to buy for that special someone, consider how dirty their floor is and whether they could benefit from the timeless utility of a carpet sweeper. Santa approves!

Santa holding a carpet sweeper with ad text below

Christmas ad for Bissell carpet sweepers that appeared in the Christian Herald in 1913. (November 26, 1913, p. 1106). Source: Internet Archive.

If in doubt what to buy for Mother, Wife, Sister or Friend, remember that a BISSELL’S “Cyco” BALL BEARING Carpet Sweeper never fails to please and will be a daily reminder of the giver for ten years or more. It is handsome in design and finish, eliminnates the drudgery and confines of the dust, making it a most practical and appropriate gift. She needs a second sweeper to keep upstairs. Price $2.75 to $5.75. At dealers everywhere. Write for booklet showing our most popular styles. Bissel Carpet Sweeper Co. Grand Rapids Mich. “We Sweep The World”