COLLECTION: Tools & Equipment

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Goffering Iron and Heater

ca.1750-1830
Origin: Europe and America
Overall height: 10 3/4" Ironing tube: 6 1/8" Heater: 15 3/4" x 1 3/8" x 7/8"
Wrought and cast iron
Museum Purchase
Acc. No. 1973-192,A&B
Goffering iron comprised of a cast iron stand & ironing tube, plus a wrought iron heating rod. Stand composed of baluster-turned post set atop a ball-footed tripod, with the ironing tube mounted into a large reinforced ring set near the top of said post. Ironing tube is cylindrical with a rounded point on the far end, and an opening for the heater on the other. Tapering cylindrical heater is a working life replacement and has a narrow twisted handle with a ram's horn terminal.
Label:Standing in sharp contrast to the heavy and brutish "sad" iron is the "goffering" iron, which almost always takes the form of a well-made and attractive tool. For some applications a bulky iron was over-the-top, and prone to damage delicate items. To press and preserve fine textiles like sleeve ruffles, ladies caps and other gathered or pleated garments, the goffering iron was just the ticket. Its heater went directly in the fire and then placed within the ironing tube. Once the tube was hot enough, items needing to be pressed were gently drawn across its surface, while the blunt end was used to get into gathers and other tight spaces.

Some of these irons are made to clamp on to the edge of a table with others like this example are made to be freestanding. It is most likely English, and has a heater that was probably made by an American smith as a replacement to the original one.