Ships Ahoy. Full steam ahead
For years, we’ve been told that the shape of our iron has been expertly crafted for ergonomic optimisation. In reality however, ergonomic considerations were more hindsight than foresight, as the original design mimics the shape of a steam ship. Back when the first steam-electric iron was invented in 1926, and then a few years later patented by American Max Skolnik in 1934, the cutting edge design and construction operations of steam ships were a driving force behind the economic growth of America. Naval engineers were even assigned to teach design at American universities.
Seeing strong parallels between the steam ship’s ability to ride smoothly through even the choppiest waters and the process of de-creasing household textiles, Max Skolnik build a squared stern and the now iconic triangular bow into his steam iron design. Even the principles of the ships steam propelling engine were adopted into the steam-electric iron, which started to achieve widespread popularity during the 1940s and 1950s, under the Steam-O-Matic brand (now owned by Sunbeam).
The most notable feature of the early steam-electric irons was the heavy iron base. It's heavier than modern day equivalents, however its weight enabled ironing out creases was quicker and easier. Today’s lighter steam irons may be less arduous on the arm, but are they as effect? In my humble opinion... NO. I’d prefer the heavy ship in a storm any day.