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Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets

Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets

Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets

Well, what a rotten summer we have had here in the UK. No wonder many of us like to pack our suitcases and head for sunnier climes! Instead, I’m sat here writing a blog for you on Vintage Technology, Gizmos and Gadgets, looking at the rain out of the window!

However, there are those of us whom actually prefer, instead of soaking up the sun sat on a beach, to spend time at museums or adding to our collection of eclectic museum worthy objects! OK, this does happen to be mainly menfolk, for many of whom the thought of a beach holiday causes them to shiver from the boredom and, in my other half’s case, the expense! (He is from the county of Yorkshire in the UK, known for their tendency to be a bit loathe to part with their cash!) But it isn’t just the gentlemen whom like their weird and wonderful objects, some of us Ladies are getting involved in this collecting trend too!

The Weather

Now I wouldn’t be British if I didn’t at least mention the weather in a blog about vintage technology, gizmos and gadgets!

I happen to be a scientist by trade and get totally fed up with TV ‘Weather Forecasts.’ You wake up expecting a nice warm day, look out of the window and it’s so dark outside you think you have woken up in the middle of the night! Where’s that sun they promised me today?

I bought a vintage barometer for home use. Its stylish, better looking than the average TV weather forecaster and more accurate!

Vintage F Darton Metal case Thermo Barograph
Vintage F Darton Metal case Thermo Barograph

 

Let’s face it, there are some fantastic weird and wonderful objects out there for us to collect. Too many to list but lots to suit individual tastes.

Some remind us of a visit to a museum from childhood or we work in an industry/ business where technology has changed over the decades and we like to collect pieces of kit that were used in an earlier age.

Then there are those whom love the design and engineering behind the kit. Some of which we can no longer use but they make great talking points in the man cave or she den.

Early Communication, Post Office and Telegraph

These wonderful early communication devices are pre-mobile phones, extremely tactile, made from wood and brass, and well engineered! Great objects for the Man cave!

 

 

Other gizmos may have been superseded by modern technology but look great as home decor or a talking point at a dinner party!

In fact, a friend of ours collects vintage tools and, after a few too many glasses of wine, proceeded to empty his large and heavy tool box on to the vintage oak dinner party dining table. He then had a game of ‘Guess what this tool was used for?’ and explained their use to us in great detail (good job we’d also had a glass of wine or two!). Needless to say his wife did not share his enthusiasm, with oil and additional scratches to her beautifully french polished table! We, however, had a wonderful time!

Medical

Then other gadgets are just for those whom love the history or are just ghouls! Have you seen some of those pieces of old medical and dentist kit that look more like torture instruments? Shudder! But a great talking point all the same. My other half has an old leather dentist chair, which he loves. Need I say any more!

 

Militaria

Who wouldn’t like to own a gadget that was used in a WW2 submarine or a piece of the Titanic? Wow, just think that Leonardo DiCaprio may have touched that piece of wood- sigh! Sorry folks, that wasn’t the real Titanic just a Hollywood dream!

 

They don’t make them like they used too! That’s true and it is mainly a positive. Where would we be today if it wasn’t for innovation and advancement in technology but…

Bakelite

The styling and composition of some of the old technology is amazing. Just take a look at these items made of Bakelite. One of the first plastics available in the 19th Century. If you don’t know what it is, have a read of this blog.

 

 

It almost doesn’t matter what the gizmos and gadgets were used for but the fact that people collect these items means that they are preserved for our future generations and for that reason alone I say keep on collecting!

If you are interested in collecting vintage technology then please click on the following link.

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The Origin Of The Humble Clothes Iron

Tilley Paraffin Pressure Domestic Iron

The Origin Of The Humble Clothes Iron

I have been pondering for a few days what to write as a guest blog for Eiffion’s followers on collectibulldogs.com. I have already written about collecting cat related items: can’t do that again. I thought about writing collecting dog ephemera but Eiffion has me beat on that one. Hence, I have decided to talk to you about something totally different, and that is the origin of the humble clothes iron!

Don’t ask me why! It’s not as if I even like ironing. It seems to be one of the most pointless household chores!

You wash your clothes, hopefully in a washing machine if you are luck enough to own one. You stick them outside or in the tumble dryer to dry. Then you spend hours taking out the creases, wear the beautifully ironed garment, sit down for 5 minutes, and the creases reappear so that you look like a crumpled mess! But see someone in an un-ironed blouse or shirt and we all whisper behind that person’s back about how lazy they are. Even worse, I have heard the comment “Hasn’t your wife got an iron?”

Is this a joke? Ok, I know some of you out there actually like ironing 🙂

Anyway, this blog isn’t about gender equality in ironing. I could spend a full day debating this with everyone and we would all end up disagreeing! The only thing my other half has ironed is bread to produce toast when the toaster wasn’t working!

The Humble Clothes Iron

We have been trying to smooth creases out of our clothes, ‘ironing,’ for many centuries. The Chinese were thought to be the first users of a process using hot smoothers in the form of hot coal in a pan, which was run up and down a piece of cloth held taut by two other people. In other areas of the World, people used glass, stones, mangles, and presses: none of these were heated and it must have taken an age!

It wasn’t until the middle ages that blacksmiths starting forging the flat iron, also known as sad (derived from the word ‘solid’) irons or smoothing irons. You had to have at least two in order to keep ironing at a reasonable rate. The flat part of each iron was heated. You then ironed a garment on a table or board until the first iron went cold and then you start using the second iron whilst the first iron is reheating.

The Origin Of The Humble Clothes Iron
Traditional Flat or Sad Iron

From a collector’s point of view, the flat irons were hand made and the designs differed from blacksmith to blacksmith; never mind country to country. Some of the designs are actually a work of art!

Many women started earning a few pennies by taking in other people’s laundry and ironing. It was a back backing job for very little return.

No steam, no flexes, no electricity….

How did you know if the iron was hot enough to use but not hot enough to burn clothes? Well, my Granny told me that she used to spit on the iron (it boils at lower temperature than pure water)… By the end of the ironing session (which would take all day) you had no saliva left!

Today, there are many Aga/ Rayburn oven owners who know the benefit of folding clothes, once washed, and leaving them on top of the Aga or in the warming oven. No need for ironing then, unless the cat also finds the warm spot in which case there is no contest, the cat wins!

Vintage AGA oven

What we needed was a self-heating flat iron. The first to arrive were charcoal filled irons and other types of fuel from ethanol to paraffin (kerosene). These were quite successful and are still used in some parts of the World today.

The Origin Of The Humble Clothes Iron
Antique Charcoal Filled Flat Iron

Inventors also tried the cordless flat iron, where the iron was heated on a stand connected to an energy supply e.g. gas and not dissimilar in principle to the modern day ironing centre.  But it was Henry Seely and Dyer whom patented an electric flat iron in 1883.

The first commercially successful iron was made by Hotpoint in the 1920s. Initially, the irons were connected to the electricity supply via the light bulb ceiling socket!

By the 1950s many people owned an electric iron, although they were still horrendously expensive. It probably only had three heat settings but was significantly better than the old sad iron!

1950s Electric Iron

In 1953, the year of Queen Elizabeth”s Coronation in the UK, you could still buy an iron, without wires and flexes, directly heated by paraffin (kerosene)! The irons were made by Tilley , whom are probably better known for the paraffin ‘Tilley Lamp’.

I just love this 1953 advert for the iron: how times have changed! I wonder if Her Majesty had one to iron her coronation robes? The advert reads: –

New!, New!, New! Tilley Paraffin Pressure Domestic Iron. No Wires, -No Flexes.

Enjoy yourself in Coronation year! Do away with ironing day “blues” the Tilley way. The Tilley Paraffin Pressure Iron can give you more leisure and prevent frayed tempers in 1953! A completely self contained unit, it can be used in and out of doors, on holiday or at home. No wires or flexes to worry you; it saves time and money. Burns 4 hours on only 1/3rd pint of ordinary Paraffin. Finger-tip heat control and bevel-edged plate increases ironing efficiency. The streamlined cream enamelled body will last and last. In Coronation year and in the years that follow, Tilley Irons will prove themselves to be a friend to every housewife. Price 68/6 complete.

tilley iron

 

The design and functionality of the iron has changed considerably since the 1950s. Most modern irons seem to be able to do anything and everything, but I bet they won’t be considered as collectible as the old handmade irons of our industrial past.

Personally, I’ll be pleased once the self ironing/ hands-free irons (or robots) are cheap enough for us to have. Can’t be long to wait now! Just have a look at this SWASH (an invention from P&G and Whirlpool): it washes and irons clothes!

The SWASH

 

But wait, what if you want to be a non-crumpled camper? Do you take your fold away electric travel iron with you in your tent. No? Perhaps you need a 1953 paraffin heated iron in your suitcase!

Well readers, I hope you enjoyed my little meander through the origin of the humble clothes iron?

Thank you to Eiffion for allowing me to guest blog and I hope to have a chat with you all again soon, if Eiffion invites me to his blog again….

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