Not nostalgia but awe at old irons & more
A couple weeks ago, I took a drive with my auction pal Rebecca to the antiques sale at Renninger’s in Kutztown, PA. It had been several years since I’d been to one of its twice-yearly productions, and I’m not so sure why not.
There were fewer vendors than I remembered from the past for this combination antiques sale/flea market, where sellers would set up booths with overhead covers and open tables far across the open field. This year, I could see the end of each row of booths while standing at the beginning of the row.
Yet, there were still some pretty nifty items for sale and for browsing, which was much of what I did. At one table under Renninger’s covered area, a woman was selling antique irons for pressing clothes. Some of them were more artistic than utilitarian. I didn’t envy the woman, though, who had to heat one of them and then slide that heavy hunk of metal across her family’s clothes. They were a lovely artifact to me but drudgery I’m sure to her.
An iron with a beautiful red and chrome ball caught my eye instantly. It was a Sears iron, and the red ball held not water, as I thought, but fuel (either kerosene or gasoline). I later found several of these self-heating irons on the web. Sears and Montgomery Ward’s were said to be the most common of them, and were being sold in some areas up until after World War II.
The vendor’s table also held a wooden iron (a novelty item, I presumed), an all-brass iron and a child’s iron. Some of the irons were featured in three books that the woman’s husband David Irons had written: “Irons By Irons,” “More Irons By Irons” and “Even More Irons By Irons.”
The irons were just a few of the antiques that called my name that sunny day. They were all functional items that were used to make living a little easier. I even found more of them at an auction a week later.
Here are some of those mementoes from the past: