Hans and Herma Knotnerus are two of the happiest and friendliest collectors I’ve ever been lucky enough to meet. So, when they told me that they are ‘Sad Iron collectors’, then I was a little surprised. However, they quickly explained that ‘sad’ didn’t refer to their emotional state, or indeed other people’s opinion about how cool, or otherwise, their collecting was, but to the type of old, solid bodied irons they collected.
The ‘sad’ in sad-iron (or sadiron), is thought to be derived from ‘sald’, an old-english word for solid, and heated sad-irons and flat-irons have been used to press cloth in Europe since the middle ages, and possibly much longer in the Far East.
Hans and Herma are from just outside Amsterdam, and they come over to Britain two or three times a year. They normally stay for a week or so, and like many collectors from overseas, they try to fit in as many opportunities to collect as they can during the visit. The main event and the real purpose of the trip (as it is for so many overseas buyers), is Newark International Antiques & Collectors Fair. Both Hans and Herma are members of the BIC (British Iron Collectors club), which organise meetings twice yearly, with members from all over Britain and indeed (like Hans & Herma) the continent.
When I spoke to them they had had a particularly good time at the June Newark Fair, and were excited by their purchases.
“We like this fair very much, because there is always something to be found; the quality really is here!” enthused Herma, before describing their latest finds:
Pictured: Brass Goffering Iron (late 1800s)
“This is a very nice, tall and heavy brass Goffering Iron. This iron was used for ironing ribbons. You take the poker out of the iron and put this into the fireplace to warm it. The warm poker you put back in the iron, and the brass conducts the heat and you could start ironing around the brass barrel.
You can find brass goffering irons, but also goffering irons made out of cast iron, or a combination of both. The date of this iron is late 1800s.”
Pictured: Crimping Machine (c.1880)
“This is a crimping machine, for crimping ribbons or starched lace. You put a hot rod inside the hollow rollers. These will get warm, and by turning the handle the rollers will do the work. There are many different crimping machines made in England and also in the USA. This one is particular to England, but has no special name. The date is about 1880.”
Pictured: Scottish Box Iron with Trivet (1860 – 1920)
“This is a so called: Scottish box iron with trivet. These irons were made from 1860 until 1920 in Scotland by blacksmiths. All Scottish box irons are different. This one has a very nice wood turned handle. Inside the iron is a slug to take out for heating in the fire. Put this warm slug back into the ironbody and the iron becomes warm and you can start ironing.”
Pictured: Tripod Double Goffering Iron
“This is a very elegant Tripod Double Goffering Iron. To use this iron you need to heat a poker, which is then put in the barrel of the iron.”
To find out more about Sad-Irons, Flat-Irons, Box-Irons and other related antiques you can contact the British Iron Collecting Club (BIC) via Facebook, or Hans & Herma Knoterus via email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The next iacf Antique Fairs will be at Ardingly on Tues 20th – Wed 21st June, Runway Monday 26th June and Shepton Mallet on Fri 30th June – Sun 2nd July. For more information go to: www.iacf.co.uk or call 01636 702326