Historical information

Sad irons, also called flat irons or smoothing irons, are shaped pieces of metal that are flat and polished on one side and have a handle attached to the other, created for the purpose of ironing fabric. “Sad” is an Old English word for “solid,” and the term “sad iron” is often used to distinguish the largest and heaviest of flat irons. They often had a trivet on which to rest the hot iron.


These irons are representative of domestic appliances used prior to the advent of electricity in the home.

Physical description

A pair of triangular flat irons. They are made of solid cast iron with hollow iron handles. Flat irons were commonly heated on trivets in front of open fires, or on the tops of closed ranges. They were made in numbered series which related to their size, but there did not appear to be any standardisation in the series between manufacturers.