Hotpoint utility iron

Add this to the list of things NOT to get your mother for Mother’s Day. It’s an electric “utility” iron, that can toast bread and heat food, as well as remove wrinkles. It was made about 1911 by Hotpoint. The two-and-a-half-pound iron has a reversible stand and a dish with a cover. It also has a hole in the back end to insert and heat hair curling tongs.

The desire for wrinkle-free fabric is old. People used smooth stones, pieces of glass with flat surfaces, even the jaws of cows or the teeth of pigs, to press out wrinkles. Later, metal box irons had solid “slugs” of metal that were heated in a fire and inserted into a pointed metal box. Other irons fueled by charcoal, gas or alcohol became available. Anyway one did it, ironing was a hot and tiring job.

The first electric irons were patented in the early 1880s. They were advertised as cleaner, more powerful and labor-saving. In 1905, an electric iron was introduced by Earl Richardson’s Pacific Electric Heating Company in California that put the heating elements at the point of the soleplate to make ironing collars, buttonholes and pleats easier. Customers loved the “hot point” of the iron, and in 1911 the name of Richardson’s company was changed to “Hotpoint.”

A Hotpoint utility iron like this won best of show at the Toaster Collectors Association ( 2011 “TOASTERfest” convention. The iron is owned by Richard Larrison, who owns and runs the “World’s Largest Small Appliance Museum” in Diamond, Missouri.

So here’s some advice: Even if an appliance shortens a job or lightens a workload, don’t give your mother anything with a plug on Mother’s Day!

Find prices of all kinds of irons in the FREE online price guide at and in Kovels Antiques & Collectibles Price Guide 2012, available in our online shop and in your local bookstore.

Happy Mother's Day from the Staff of


Photo courtesy of Toaster Collectors Association |