UPDATE: The iron I write about in this post has been SOLD.
My mom is starting the process of downsizing from her home of 60+ years, and one of the items that she’ll be parting with is something a lot of you have probably never heard of: the Ironrite Ironer. It’s an ironing machine consisting of of a big metal box with a huge roller in the middle that you move up and down with a knee pedals and hand controls. The actual name of it is the “Ironrite Mangle Ironer” — sounds like your clothes wouldn’t make it through, right? But actually, if you knew how to use it, you could get dry cleaner-perfect results. Of course, the Ironrite does take up a bit of space, and as such they were discontinued in 1961.
I well remember playing nearby as my mom fed slacks, pillowcases, and shirt sleeves into the machine, and the resulting smell of steam and heated cotton. My mom was a whiz with that thing, and in fact, until very recently, she was still using it! She inherited her Ironrite from her father, who actually won an ironing contest with it in the late 1940s (the image of my big, scary grandfather winning an ironing contest still amuses me, especially during that era). Though you can’t find them new, lots of people still use them — here’s a woman who uses an Ironrite to iron the silk that she uses to make scarves.
The “Health Chair” that came with the machine is itself a design classic — it even has a place in MoMA. I’m pretty sure we used to have that, too, unrecognizable under about 15 layers of duct tape (sometimes that’s good on a chair, sometimes it isn’t); it went into the garbage far before I was interested in decor, I’m sure.
If you’re just curious to learn more, visit this interesting site by Ironrite enthusiast George Edmonson. –Mary T.
NOTE: My mom’s Ironrite has been sold. But check the comments for more Ironrite enthusiasts.