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Staff Pick Video: Charcoal Iron

Watch as Museum Technician, Dave, talks about his pick: a late 19th century charcoal iron.

This artifact is a charcoal iron from the late 19th century.

Late 19th century charcoal iron

The charcoal iron is a self-heating iron that allows for continuous use. Unlike the sadiron, which was heated externally on a stove and which required frequent stops to switch off bases that became too cool, the charcoal iron provided a continuous source of heat which allowed for fewer interruptions when ironing.

The inside of a charcoal iron is hollow, allowing the user to fill it with charcoal.

The inside of the iron is hollow, which allowed the user to burn coal inside the iron to generate heat.

The back of the iron has a small sliding door which opens to control airflow to the fire inside the iron.

A damper at the back of the iron helps to control airflow.

Image of the Sears catalogue offering a charcoal iron between 1880 and 1920.

This useful household tool was available to be purchased through mail order  catalogues such as the T. Eaton Company or  Sears and Roebuck.

Melissa Wakeling has a Bachelor of Arts from Trent University and a Post-Graduate Certificate in Museum Management and Curatorship from Fleming College. Melissa works as Education and Marketing Coordinator at Glanmore National Historic Site in Belleville, Ontario.