The collector: Jay Raymond, Jenkintown, Pennsylvania, US. Jay is currently an author, at work on his second book. He has previously worked as a heating system mechanic, a building inspector, a teacher, a maitre'd and a handyman.
The collection: Irons. Until 2007 I collected only streamlined irons: In the U.S. this meant irons made between 1932 and 1952. In 2007 I sold that collection of about 180 irons. I now collect electric irons made between 1890-1925.
The story behind the collection...
It began with the purchase in the early 1980s of a box of ten old electric irons at a church rummage sale. Several were from the streamlined era and these caught my eye. I didn't work hard to find more until about ten years later when, on vacation far from home, I found an antique dealer with a collection of forty streamlined irons. I bought that collection and began to seriously look for more. Two years later I found another dealer with a collection, of sixty irons: I bought that collection, too.
Erla F10 iron circa 1946
My interest in the streamlined irons was aesthetic: I enjoyed the way they look. My interest in earlier electric irons is more historic: I like to see the development of the technology and materials and learn who had a hand in it, and when. I still prefer the better looking irons (of any period) to those that show no imagination in design.
I bought about 500 irons to form the streamlined collection, which in its distilled form was 180 objects. My current collection is about 60 irons, though I have another 60 that I've bought with the idea of re-selling them.
I designed–and had built–two wood cabinets to display the irons. I arrange them with some thought about aspects they have in common, and which ones look good with each other.
Tailor's iron by Carpenter Electric Heating - 1890
The first U.S. electric iron was made in 1890 in St. Paul, Minnesota, by Charles E. Carpenter. Five of his irons are known to remain: I have owned three of them. There is one streamlined iron that I just found this year, after looking for fifteen years. I found two in the same place!
Beardsley & Wolcott Manufacturing Company (1932)
There a many significant design innovations in my collection, both aesthetic and technological. The very first streamlined iron was made by a small company in Connecticut in 1932, two years before any others. Carpenter made several styles of irons: I'd like to find one of those not yet seen and to find one of his early-in-production irons. The five survivors known were made later in the company's brief existence.
Top row (left to right): Lowe Electric, CFS, Eldec. Bottom row (left to right): RMF, Magnet and Koppin
Sperti AX 10 (circa 1930s)
I think my collection reveals a passion for aesthetics and an understanding of them: perhaps curiosity and persistence as well.
Westinghouse Type C Advertisements (1914)
As well as my iron collection, I have just downsized a collection of unpainted, utilitarian 19th century tinware. It's now about fifteen pieces and most are small teapots or pitchers. I have been buying contemporary paintings for about thirty years and have a collection of contemporary artisan pottery too.
You can view Jay's blog Vintage Electric Irons here
Jay's book Streamlined Irons is available here
All images © Jay Raymond and used with his kind permission.