Wednesday progress with the green house base was scuppered by rain so we went to the Brunswick yard, our favourite Architectural salvage and Antiques emporium in Penrith. I spotted these and Phil bought them for my Wedding anniversary present. Not an iPad, not an iPhone folks but an iRon…..3 of them to be precise. Chatting to Adam the proprietor, these little beauties were de rigueur in the Victorian era.
Mrs Potts patented SAD iron, made in West Bromwich, England
Here’s the history. The sadiron (today it is one word) is one type of iron. There are many others, developed for special uses, like goffering irons that pressed ruffles or specially shaped irons for sleeves. The Oxford English Dictionary says that the sadiron is a smoothing iron, solid and flat, as opposed to a box iron that is hollow and meant to hold coals (so it didn’t need to be heated and reheated on the stove). It says that the word sad once meant heavy or compact. Webster’s defines sadiron as a flatiron pointed at both ends and having a removable handle, and dates the term to 1738.
Evidently an American woman named Mrs. Potts invented a removable wooden handle in 1871 that made it easier to iron and it didn’t burn your hand (women used rags or potholders but still, those things must have been dangerously hot!), and you could put one sadiron on the stove to heat while you moved the handle to the hot one.
Nice catch !
The body of the iron was cast hollow and was later filled with material that was a non-conductor of heat, such as plaster of Paris, cement or clay. Mrs. Potts claimed in her patent that this material held the heat longer so that more garments could be ironed without reheating the iron.
Comes with guarantee stamp ‘will not break’
So at the youthful age of 19, Mrs. Mary Potts solved the pervasive problem of hot handles and burns to the hands as a result of ironing. The wooden detachable handle and sets of 3 irons resolved the hot handle issue. Her irons were produced by every major iron producer in America and also produced in Germany, England, Canada, and Australia. Mrs. Potts was never completely compensated or adequately paid for her idea. There are currently 265 Mrs. Potts’ Sad Irons cataloged in the book, The Mrs. Potts’ Sad Iron Collectors’ Guide that is available for sale at firstname.lastname@example.org
They’re numbered so can be used in sequence
Our collection is missing its stand but you never know at Adam’s yard, we might get lucky !