The rotary clothes hoist is an Australian icon. It appears regularly in Australian festivals, literature, the visual arts and cartoons, reflecting the deep cultural impact it has had on generations of Australians who have grown up with a clothes hoist in the backyard.

Hung Out to Dry tells the story of Gilbert Toyne, the inventor who designed and patented the first Australian all-metal rotary clothes hoist.

Born near Geelong in 1888, Gilbert Toyne patented four significant designs for rotary clothes hoists between 1911 and 1946. By 1913 Toyne's rotary clothes hoist was considered to be 'indispensable in a modern residence'. However World War 1 interrupted production and marketing, and the Aeroplane Hoist Manufacturing Company of Australasia Limited closed its doors.

Returning home from the Great War, Toyne remained passionately committed to promoting his invention, and endeavoured to establish production centres for his clothes hoist nationwide and beyond. By the 1930s, Toyne's rotary clothes hoist was available for purchase across Australia and New Zealand, with manufacturing bases in Melbourne, Adelaide and Sydney. Although his efforts to control the Australian market were thwarted by world events and tragic personal loss, it was Gilbert Toyne's patented 1926 all-metal design that defined the standard for Australian rotary clothes hoists for decades to follow.

Perhaps the clothes hoist in your backyard is actually a Toyne hoist.

In America, clothes hoists were being patented as early as the 1850s. Hung Out to Dry investigates these American designs, and documents little known Australian clothes hoist manufacturers. The book offers a fascinating insight into the culture of 'washing day' in Australia, and into the lives of Australia's 20th century inventors and their families.

Hung Out to Dry is a superbly illustrated hardback edition. Its many previously unpublished colour and black and white images include patent drawings, photographs, letters, magazine advertisements and promotional leaflets.

Book Details

Hung Out to Dry: Gilbert Toyne's classic Australian clothes hoist

Peter Cuffley and Cas Middlemis

Cas Middlemis

Publication date
November 2009. ISBN 9780646508559

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