Suiter Swantz IP takes a look back at past inventions and inventors with our Patent Of The Day.

On this day in 1882, Henry W. Seely was granted U.S. Patent No. 259,054 for a ELECTRIC FLAT IRON.

Before electricity, many early civilizations were using hot, flat surfaces to smooth out fabrics and reduce creasing. Smoothing stones in the 8th and 9th centuries are known as the earliest western ironing devices. During the industrial revolution, early irons were filled with hot materials like coals or were placed directly in a fire until their surfaces were hot enough for use. In 1871, a model of iron with removable handles was introduced and marketed as “Mrs. Pott’s Removable Handle Iron.”

Henry W. Seely’s patented electronic iron and other early electronic irons developed around the same time used a carbon arc to create heat. The object of Henry W. Seely’s invention is to utilize electric currents derived from any suitable source of electric energy for the purpose of heating flat-irons, fluting-irons, and other similar utensils. To accomplish this object he placed within the iron and close to its face a resistance, preferably of carbon, and of such size and shape that it will heat the face of the iron sufficiently and equally. This resistance has terminals, by means of which it may be connected in an electric circuit, preferably a multiple-arc circuit of an electric lighting system. Unfortunately, for Seely and others who developed electric irons, this proved unsafe and commercially unsuccessful.

In 1892, hand irons using electrical resistance were introduced. Crompton and Co. and the General Electric Company pioneered this model and designed it to allow for the regulation of the heat in the iron. In 1926 the Eldec Company introduced the steam iron, this iron allowed heated water vapor to release the wrinkles of the material opposed the previous method of ironing damp clothes. It wasn’t until the early 1940s steam irons caught on in popularity and the 1950s is when the steam and dry combination iron, we are most familiar with was introduced.

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