Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

First Pressings; Early Irons

Newspaper article Daily Examiner (Grafton, Australia)

First Pressings; Early Irons

Article excerpt

There are very few of us who actually enjoy ironing, but as much as we may complain, at least the irons of today do not weigh six to 10 kilos and do not require the ironing to be done at a lightning pace in order to keep the iron hot. While the basic shape of the iron remains similar to that of the original flat irons, much else about it has changed. The advances made in the supply of energy to the home have had an enormous effect upon the equipment used to complete the pressing of family laundry.

Early Australian women differed from their English cousins in many aspects of their lifestyle and creature comforts, merely because of their isolation from the rest of the settled world. Everything that was needed by the new settlers had to be either brought in by ship or made locally. With the lack of services and expertise in the fledgling community this usually meant that improvisation was the key. This was certainly the case with irons with many women proudly possessing an iron made by the local blacksmith. Any improvement made in England or America either did not reach Australia or arrived here much later. After completion of the monumental task of the household washing utilising coppers and mangles, it is hard to imagine having the energy to tackle the ironing which required much greater effort than the same job today. A separate day was set aside for ironing and every item needed ironing as the easy care and non-iron fabrics had not yet arrived. All fabrics were usually extremely wrinkled after having been wrung out or passed through the mangle to remove excess water before line drying.

The earliest known irons were in existence in England in the 1600s but it was not until 1738 that Issac Wilkinson developed and patented the first solid flat iron. Before this the box iron had been more common, some weighing as much as 10 kilograms, these irons were hollow to allow a heated cast iron slug to be placed inside them. …

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