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This cast-iron flatiron, also named “sad iron”, was made by the Canadian foundry James Smart Mfg Co. To smooth clothes, the iron is first heated on a stove before pressing the wrinkled fabric. This type of device is very popular between 1875 and 1950.

This model of iron was invented in 1871 by a young American woman in her early twenties, Mary Florence Potts. With its detachable wooden handle, this model is an improvement on a patent she had previously filed. Her innovations prevent burns and make ironing easier. Multiple irons can now be placed on the stove simultaneously and rotated. In addition, the shape of the iron, with two tips instead of one, facilitates handling by allowing movements in both directions. The interior of the iron is filled with a material that has low heat conductivity.

Ironing is a weekly activity in the home; Sunday clothes must be clean and wrinkle-free.


Date: 1871–1950

Origin: Brockville, Ontario

Owner: Magasin général historique authentique 1928. Percé.


Head Miller, J. (2018, March 28). Mrs Potts, Inventor. The Henry Ford Museum of American Innovation. Retrieved August 9, 2022, from https://www.thehenryford.org/explore/blog/mrs.-potts-inventor

Illustration: Flatiron