Historical information

Blacksmiths started forging simple flat irons in the late Middle Ages. Plain metal irons were heated by a fire or on a stove. Some were made of stone. Earthenware and terracotta were also used, from the Middle East to France and the Netherlands. Flat irons were also called sad irons or smoothing irons. Metal handles had to be gripped in a pad or thick rag. Some irons had cool wooden handles and in 1870 a detachable handle was patented in the US. This stayed cool while the metal bases were heated and the idea was widely imitated. Cool handles stayed even cooler in "asbestos sad irons". The sad in sad iron (or sadiron) is an old word for solid, and in some contexts this name suggests something bigger and heavier than a flat iron. Goose or tailor's goose was another iron name, and this came from the goose-neck curve in some handles. In Scotland people spoke of gusing (goosing) irons. At least two irons were needed on the go together for an effective system, one would be in use, and the other re-heating. Large households with servants had a special ironing-stove for this purpose. Some were fitted with slots for several irons, and a water-jug on top.

Significance

An early domestic object that gives an insight into how the ironing of clothes was done before the electric type irons we use and take for granted today.

Physical description

Clothes Iron, wedge shaped, cast iron painted black with cylindrical handle small funnel through centre of handle.

Inscriptions & markings

None