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

Two flat iron roller stands, circa 1887

Recently I received an email from fellow PITCA member and author Dave Irons. He shared a cast iron trivet that he’s been curious about. Signed PAT APLD FOR on the front, it has a trough at the bottom with a notch at each side, suggesting a portion is missing. It’s unsigned on the reverse.

I checked the reference book Trivets & Stands and found Dave’s trivet on page 212, rated Rare. The description states: “9 1/4 x 4 x 3/4″; four feet. Gate-mark along rim. Rotating wooden drum at rear of stand with small wire clip to hold drum in place.”

A Stand For Flat Irons, Crommer & Phillips, US Patent, March 8, 1887

I have a very similar cast iron stand in my collection, inscribed PAT MCH 8 87. It doesn’t appear in Trivets & Stands or any of my other reference books. Measuring 9 3/4 x 4″ with four 7/8″ feet, it features a wooden roller that’s secured into position with a small metal clip at the far right front edge.

Searching Google Patents with the date of March 8, 1887 and various search terms, I was finally able to locate Patent No. 359,204. The purpose of this invention was to clean and lubricate the soleplate of a hot flat iron, ensuring a smoother ironing process with less adhesion of starch to fabric.

There’s no mention in the patent specifics of a clip, yet my stand has one. As shown above, the metal clip passes through a small hole on the lower right front edge. (Dave’s stand has a hole in the same location.) To access the roller, the clip lifts out of its groove and swings to the side. The process is reversed to lock the clip in place.

On the back of my stand the clip is flattened, similar to a tiny nailhead, which keeps it in place.

The patent describes the roller as “covered throughout its length with a fibrous web of material saturated with beeswax, paraffine (sic),  or analogous substance.” It also states the roller could be removed when mutilated or worn and replaced with another.

I’m still unsure as to how the roller was lubricated. Since the roller needed to rotate freely in the trough, gauze couldn’t be wound too thickly. And when and how was the gauze lubricated?  Before or after wrapping around the roller? Notice that the trough is open on the reverse of my trivet; what was the purpose? Maybe it was to allow access to the wooden roller for applying the initial or additional lubricant.

Following is the Utility Patent, a technical document that teaches the public how to use a new machine, process, or system.  Note that a decorative design might change over time while the patented function remains the same. In this case the decorative design of the patent illustration is different from the finished stand.

US Patent No. 359,204, assigned 3/08/1887

Canadian Patent 25847, issued January 25, 1887

Of particular interest is that Robert Crommer (a citizen of Great Britain) and Adelbert Phillips (an American citizen) were assigned a Canadian utility patent for what appears to be the same stand. This time the illustration matches the appearance of the two stands described in this blog post. When you open Canadian Patent 25847, clicking on the Documents tab will allow you to view the drawings and description.

In conclusion

The two stands I’ve described are very similar in size and shape. The main difference lies in the structure of the trough. In Dave’s patent pending model the trough is solid; in my patented model the trough has an opening along the back.

If you have any additional information on either of these stands please Contact Me and I’ll share the information as an Update to this blog post.

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