Collecting, cleaning, displaying, researching, and appreciating TRIVETS and related go-withs!
The W. H. Howell Company of Geneva, Illinois was a leading producer of cast iron sad irons, trivets and fluters from the mid 1800s into the early 1900s. But as the availability of electricity increased, the demand for those devices decreased and they eventually became obsolete.
In 1923 the Howell Company switched to the production of other cast metal products including mass-produced metal furnishings. The company remained in operation throughout World War 2, pausing furniture manufacture and producing armaments and airplane sections for the US military.
Domestic production resumed after the war, with Howell being acquired by Acme Steel (later Interlake Inc.) in 1954. It continued to produce metal furnishings under the name Howell. The company was purchased by Burd, Inc. in 1975. Production ceased in 1979 following a labor strike; all machinery was sold in 1980.
For more information on the W. H. Howell Company please visit the Illinois Digital Archives: Howell Company. Several interesting newspaper articles with photographs are included in this archive.
At least five different sad iron stands, in three styles, were produced by the W. H. Howell Company. All are unsigned on the reverse. These stands are commonly found today, reflecting the volume that was produced. (The least common version is the Howell Right.)
Note: Howell stands can vary up to 1/4″ in width and/or length, which possibly represents a minor difference in foundry molds.
You’ll find these five Howell stands in my two books: The A-Z Guide To Collecting Trivets (pp. 82-83) and The Expanded A-Z Guide To Collecting Trivets (pp. 147-148).
The Howell five, plus several others with a central H, are documented on pp. 228 & 230 of Trivets and Stands by Rob Roy Kelly and James Ellwood. Note that two stands bear a different company signature: (1) Bartlett & Co. Hibbard Spencer Our Very Best and (2) M. F. & Co. Chicago.
I didn’t include an example of the plain “H” stand, unsigned on front and back, since I have no documentation that it was produced by the Howell Company. Like the WAPAK stand, those may have been reproductions of the original Howell “H” design. If anyone has a Howell catalog with documentation of their sad iron stands, please Contact Me.
See also my blog post The WAPAK sad iron stand.
Cast iron, 6 1/8″ x 4 3/8″ with three 3/4″ feet. Two guide cleats on each side. On face: HCo initials in the center and THE W H HOWELL CO and GENEVA ILL. U.S.A. in the side panels.
Cast iron, 5 7/8″ x 4 3/8″ with three 1″ legs and shallow, scalloped side rails. On face: H in the center and THE W H HOWELL CO and GENEVA ILL in the side panels. Two gate marks along bottom edge.
Cast iron, 5 7/8″ x 4 3/8″ with three 3/4″ feet. On face: H in the center and THE W H HOWELL CO and GENEVA ILL in the side panels. Two gate marks along bottom edge.
Cast iron, 5 7/8″ x 4 1/4″ with three 5/8″ feet. On face: H in the center and W. H. HOWELL CO (left side) and GENEVA. ILL. (right side) in the side panels.
Cast iron, 5 7/8″ x 4 1/4″ with three 5/8″ feet. On face: H in the center and GENEVA ILL (left side) and W H HOWELL CO (right side)in the side panels. Two gate marks along bottom edge. Less common version.