The Livingston Pneumatic Vacuum Sweeper

What is bigger than a breadbox and weighs 14 pounds? If you guessed a Pneumatic Vacuum Sweeper you were correct. It measures 17” long x 13” wide and 8” high and is a beast to push across any carpet. Was it revolutionary? Perhaps but only for a short while until with the coming of electricity the electric vacuum cleaner was invented.

We searched to try and find some information on “Livingston” the manufacture of this unit but could find nothing. All we know is what is printed on the case of the unit:

Livingston Pneumatic Vacuum Sweeper, Ball Bearing No. 6, Patented June 2, 1914”.

Could it be that the outbreak of World War 1 put an abrupt stop to their manufacture, or was it just that they were big and didn’t do a much better job than a carpet sweeper.

We did come across two ads for other units, so there must have been some interest in this type of cleaner.

Pneuvac Co., Chicago, IL (photo #1)
Duntley Sweeper Boston, MA (photo #2)












It is a combination carpet sweeper, with its’ own dirt catcher on the bottom, and a vacuum powered by 3 bellows that were chain driven by the back wheels as it was pushed. The vacuum part had a separate dirt catcher that was accessed by removing the front of the unit, and then tipping it up to shake out the dirt etc. Not a very convenient way of emptying it. We suspect that the carpet sweeper picked up as much as the “Vacuum Sweeper” part did.

If you are interested in this machine it can be seen on the second floor of our museum in the “Pioneer Room”


Livingston No.6 (photo #3)


A look at the bottom with the carpet sweeper in the center. The chain from the back wheels drives the billows (photo #4)
The three billows driven by the back wheels (photo #5)










The opening in the front for vacuumed dirt. Emptied by taking off the front plate and tipping the unit up and shaking (photo #6)
The front plate, a solid one piece of wood with a metal covered opening on the bottom to run across the floor (photo #7)











The back of the front plate with an opening into the catch box of the unit for dirt. the opening was carved through this solid piece of wood. (photo #8)