Collecting, cleaning, displaying, researching, and appreciating TRIVETS and related go-withs!

Electric Furnace Man (EFM) trivets

Each EFM trivet was hand enameled by a local artisan.

The history of the EFM trivet begins with the 1907 founding of General Machine Company in New York City. The title “Electric Furnace-Man” derives from one of their earliest products: the 1922 Automatic Electric Furnace-Man Coal Stoker. This piece of machinery supplied coal and air to the home furnace, relieving the homeowner of the tedious chore of stoking the fire. The EFM company slogan “The Finest In Automatic Heat” refers to the origins of their company as a manufacturer of those early coal stoker boilers.   

After moving several times, General Machine Company relocated in 1941 to its present location in Emmaus, Pennsylvania. The company was sold in 1968 to General Machine Corporation, a subsidiary of Belmont Industries Incorporated. In 1999 the assets of the EFM production and contract business were sold to Thermo-Dynamic Boiler Company of Schuylkill Haven, Pennsylvania.

Today the entire system of companies is family owned and operated. The EFM division, now known as the EFM Sales Company, continues to sell home heating appliances, furnaces, and boilers at their main facility in Emmaus, PA. 

The 1953 EFM Ashtray.

In 1953 EFM began presenting annual cast iron gifts to its employees and dealers. That initial 1953 gift, shown above, was a cast iron ashtray depicting a foundry-man pouring iron. However, since 1954 the EFM annual gifts have been plaque trivets! EFM trivets were cast at their Emmaus foundry until it ceased production in 1984, with casting subcontracted out since.

As for the designs, it’s interesting to note that the two earliest EFM trivet designs were actually first produced by JZH in 1952. John Zimmerman Harner was known to share his patterns with other foundries. I believe there’s a good chance that EFM borrowed, then modified, those JZH designs for their 1954 and 1955 trivets.

Around 500 trivets were produced each year with the exception of 1997, when 600 were produced for the 75th Anniversary of the EFM Division. 

EFM plaque trivets measure an average 6 1/4″ x 4”. Each is spade shaped, without feet, and unsigned on the reverse. The practice of adding the letters “EFM” on each trivet started in 1962. The year was added beginning with 1984. And those with open holes cast along the base included a small EFM business calendar, attached with brads.

The 2000 EFM trivet with calendar and annual greeting.

EFM trivets feature a Pennsylvania Dutch phrase or humorous saying. This pdf provides a guide to the EFM Trivet Translations.

Most of this information comes from my second book The Expanded A-Z Guide To Collecting Trivets (2010). Thanks once again to Chris Boehm and the EFM Sales Company for their contribution of information and images.

I’m in the process of locating and documenting the subsequent EFM trivets (2010-present) and hope to share them in a future Trivetology blog post.

Update 4/20/22: the booklet “What Is A Trivet?”

This booklet was found in the original cardboard box along with the 1968 EFM trivet called “Star Burst”.

Note the differences in paint to the other 1968 example in the Gallery. All EFM trivets were outsourced and hand enameled by local artisans.

Update 8/20/22: the EFM trivet design for 2011


Click the first image, allow a few moments for the Gallery to load, then use the  < and > Slideshow tool.

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