Today, I spotted my charcoal iron which has been
displayed at one of the dining corner for many years.
This iron has served my family for more than two
decades before my mother retired it and kept it for
many years before she passed it to me for custody
Here, I rather let the photos do the talking.
Notice the hinged lid and the air holes to allow the
charcoal to keep smoldering. These are sometimes
called ironing boxes, or charcoal box irons, and may
come with their own stand. However, in my case I
only have the iron box and searching for its own
stand (the iron ring and a piece of flat square hard
It is very much heavier compared to the electric
iron. To add more colour to this article. we also
extracted the history of ironing and some information
on box and charcoal iron for your reading pleasure.
No-one can say exactly when people
started trying to press cloth smoothly,
but we know that the Chinese were
using hot metal for ironing before
anyone else. Pans filled with hot
coals were pressed over stretched
cloth as illustrated in the drawing to
the right. A thousand years ago this
method was already well-established.
Meanwhile people in Northern Europe
were using stones, glass and wood for
smoothing. These continued to be use
for "ironing" in some places into the
mid-19th century, long after Western
blacksmiths started to forge smoothing
irons in the late Middle Ages.
Box irons, charcoal irons
If you make the base of your iron into a
container you can put glowing coals inside
it and keep it hot a bit longer. This is a
charcoal iron, and the photograph (right)
shows one being used in India, where it's
not unusual to have your ironing done by a
"press wallah" at a stall with a brazier nearby.
Notice the hinged lid and the air holes to
allow the charcoal to keep smouldering. These
are sometimes called ironing boxes, or charcoal
box irons, and may come with their own stand.
For centuries charcoal irons have been used
in many different countries. When they have
a funnel to keep smoky smells away from the
cloth, they may be called chimney irons.
Antique charcoal irons are attractive to many
collectors, while modern charcoal irons
manufactured in Asia are also used in much of
Africa. Some of these are sold to Westerners
as reproductions or replica "antiques".
Some irons had shallower boxes and had fitted
"slugs" or "heaters" - slabs of metal - which were
heated in the fire and inserted into the base
instead of charcoal. It was easier to keep the
ironing surface spotlessly clean, away from the
fuel, than with flatirons or charcoal irons. Brick
inserts could be used for a longer-lasting, less
intense heat. These are generally called box irons,
although they used to be known as ironing boxes
Late 19th century iron designs experimented with
heat-retaining fillings. Designs of this period
became more and more ingenious and complicated,
with reversible bases, gas jets and other
innovations. See some inventive US models here.
By 1900 there were electric irons in use on both
sides of the Atlantic.
Hope you find the above discussion of assistance
to you. We are look forward to seeing you again.
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