Q: I found this old iron in a house I just inherited. It’s 7 1/2 inches long, 3 inches wide, and weighs 5 lbs. There is printing on a plate on the bottom of the handle. I’m 85 and never saw a gas iron before. When was it made and does it has any value?
A: Most early irons were heated on top of the stove. The first self-heating irons were heated by charcoal. Liquid fuel irons were invented in the late 1800s. They were cleaner and lighter than charcoal irons. Gasoline, denatured alcohol, kerosene, and naptha were used as fuel. A flame was lit in the iron and the heat controlled by turning the knob to reduce the amount of fuel reaching the flame. Liquid fuel irons were common until electric irons became popular about 1915. They continued to be used in some rural areas until the 1940s. New liquid fuel irons are still being made, used by campers and the Amish. Rarity and condition determine price. Read what’s printed on the plate on the handle. It will give you an idea of the age of your iron. If the maker is rare or desirable, it will add to the value. You can try to remove the rust on your iron using fine steel wool (#0 or finer grade). Most gasoline-fueled irons in good condition sell for about $25 to $50.