Automatic Iron Birth at Mama’s Treasures The invention of the laundry iron with automatic heat and adjustable temperatures
ushered the iron business into the modern era. A fourteen year old boy's curiosity proved to be the driving force.
News-Antique.com - Jun 30,2008 - The invention of the laundry iron with automatic heat and adjustable temperatures ushered the iron business into the modern era. The curiosity of a fourteen year old boy in
Jackson, Michigan in 1912 had a great deal to do with this accomplishment. Joseph W. Myers remembers his excitement when he saw a local furniture store advertisement offering an electric iron for $2.98. In 1971 in an interview he recalled :
"Somehow I convinced my mother that she deserved to
have this wonderful new convenience, It was a Dover iron and had an unplated iron soleplate and a nickel plated shell. I thought it looked swell. Compared to her old irons, the new iron did a great job. However, the cord kept burning off because it ran directly into the shell to the terminals. As a budding inventor I thought this needed to be improved, so about four years later I took the job of providing it with an automatic heat control. It worked just well enough to encourage me, but not well enough to be worth anything."
When his job was ended by the 1921 depression, he decided he wanted to be a professional inventor and began working on his iron in earnest. By 1924 he had a design
he felt was good enough and he made 100 irons. He didn’t anticipate the problem of marketing them. Graybar Electric flatly refused saying they had no requests for an automatic flatiron, they weren’t interested and they doubted anyone else would be either. So he hit the county fairs and sold his irons for $5.00 with an old iron as a trade in.
He continued to contact companies about his invention and the success they were having in the field but there was little interest. Hotpoint didn’t think the industry was ready for one. They had most of the iron business and weren’t interested in inviting trouble with something new and unknown. American told him they had been trying to develop one for 25 years and if such a thing were possible, they would have succeeded. Clark turned him down because it only operated on AC not DC and it couldn’t be used everywhere. Chicago Flexible Shaft actually interviewed his customers and said they would be
interested but then backed out. His frustration grew because by this time the irons he had sold had been in use for about a year and were standing up perfectly, even in some commercial laundries.
Desperation drove him to a small company in Cleveland, Ohio called the Liberty Guage and Instrument Company. This company would grow into the Proctor-Silex Company we know today. They had become known for being the world’s largest manufacturers of electric hotplates and had a good line. They investigated him and his field test and agreed to develop and manufacture his irons. Now Westinghouse came out at this time with their thermostat iron at this time, but it was a simple on and off device. Thus Myers iron became the first practical