A very well preserved English GOFFERING IRON made by William Bullock's Foundry in Spon Lane, West Bromich, Staffordshire. We date this piece as late Georgian or possibly early Victorian.The piece stands 5 3/4" in height and is 10" in length.The Poker holder tube is fashioned in brass with the stand and Poker itself being iron. Many of these Goffering Irons are sold without the Pokers so with this one being complete it makes it a particularly collectible example.
Goffering Irons were used for ironing frills - from Elizabethan ruffs to Victorian ruffles and were also called fluting, crimping, or poking irons and also 'Italian' or 'Tally' Irons.
Anyone who's pressed clothes with an iron on a flat surface knows it's easy to make a crease. So how can you iron waves of ruffles and keep the flounces without flattening them? One solution was a goffering iron, also called an Italian or tally iron. This was like a metal test tube set horizontally on a stand. The tube was heated by inserting a metal poker-like rod, fresh from stove or hearth. Then frilled cuffs and collars could be curled round the cylinder, and other trimmings, like ribbons, were moved across it. Some Victorians took pride in a display of expertly-ironed ruffles, and the well-dressed baby often had a bonnet trimmed with "Italian-ironed double frills", as mentioned by Charlotte Brontë in 1849.
The inner rod of the goffering iron was no different from the hot poking-stick or poking-iron used in the 16th and 17th centuries. This was very like an ordinary fireplace poker and was used to help create the stiff ruffs fashionable during the Renaissance or the ruffs associated with the English Queen Elizabeth. These elaborate collars had originally been created with unheated setting sticks that fixed pleats in damp, heavily-starched ruffs while they dried - a bit like setting hair - until the heated poking-stick came into use around 1570. The laundress-gofferer needed a stand to support ruffs while she "styled" them with this object. Other names for the poking-iron were poting-stick or putting-stick.
For rows of frilled trimming, crimping or goffering (gauffering) tongs could be used. These were applied to starched lace edging or ruffles, once they were arranged ready in a suitable position.
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