Collection: Macquarie University History Museum

Sad Iron

Sad or Flat Iron

Accession # AHM004109b
Creator Unknown
Period 19th Century
Date c.1850
Provenance Australia
Material/s Cast Iron
Dimensions 15.28cm (l) x 10.19cm (w) x 12.34cm(d)
Collection Macquarie University History Museum
Source AHM, Macquarie University
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This type of iron was known as a "sad" or "flat" iron. 'Sad' was an old English word meaning 'solid', and often referred to the heavier irons, with this particular example marked as "7" pounds (3.17kg). The weight and shape of the iron helped to retain heat whilst smoothing or flattening fabric, though it was not uncommon to have to re-heat the iron several times for a load of laundry. This iron was made by a blacksmith, though the exact manufacturer is unknown. Ironing was extremely hot and heavy work; the flat base of the iron would be heated over a stove or fire and the handle would need to be grabbed with a cloth to avoid burning one's hands. It was often a challenge to ensure no soot or charcoal made its way onto the fabric. In most houses laundry was the job of the women of the household or their maids and they would have to be reasonably strong to use the iron properly.
  • Syllabus Links
    • Stage 3 Syllabus Links
      • describe and explain different experiences of people living in Australia over time (HT3-2)
      • apply a variety of skills of historical inquiry and communication (HT3-5)
    • Stage 3 History - The Australian Colonies
      • The impact of a significant development or event on a colony(ACHHK095)
    • Historical concepts
      • Continuity and change - some things change over time and others remain the same.
      • Perspectives - people from the past will have different views and experiences.
      • Empathetic understanding - an understanding of another's point of view, way of life and decisions made in a different time, eg differing attitudes and experiences of living in an Australian colony; understanding the experiences of women and migrants.
    • Historical skills - Analysis and use of sources
      • locate information relevant to inquiry questions in a range of sources (ACHHS102, ACHHS121)
      • compare information from a range of sources (ACHHS103, ACHHS122)
    • Historical Skills - Perspectives and interpretations
      • identify different points of view in the past and present (ACHHS104, ACHHS123)
    • Historical Skills - Empathetic understanding
      • explain why the behaviour and attitudes of people from the past may differ from today
    • Historical Skills - Research
      • identify and pose questions to inform an historical inquiry (ACHHS100, ACHHS119)
      • identify and locate a range of relevant sources to support an historical inquiry (ACHHS101, ACHHS120)
    • Historical Skills - Explanation and communication
      • develop historical texts, particularly narratives and descriptions, which incorporate source material (ACHHS105, ACHHS124)
      • use a range of communication forms (oral, written, graphic) and digital technologies. (ACHHS106, ACHHS125)
  • Online Resources
  • Bibliography/References
    • Asher, L. (1985) "Martha Clendinning - A Woman’s Life on the Goldfields" in Lake, M & Kelly, F. (eds) Double Time - Women in Victoria - 150 Years Penguin Books.
    • Troy, P., (ed.), (2000) A History of European Housing in Australia Cambridge University Press
    • Webber, K. (2012) Daily life on the Goldfields Powerhouse Museum

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Macquarie University History Museum (2020). Sad Iron, AHM004109b. // (accessed on: 14 June 2020).

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