The fashion styles of the late 19th Century and early 20th Century featured clothing that was crimped, pleated, ruffled or fluted for men, women and children. With the popularity of this dramatic fashion look a special labor-saving machine was created to pleat the fabric of hems, collars, linen cuffs or any other textile or garment. A variety of fluters were designed and manufactured as an easy way to create and care for the ruffles and pleats. Fluters or “sad irons” were widely available and were an early household tool found in almost every home.
Yellow Garage Antiques dealer The White Rabbit presents an antique Crown cast iron and brass roller fluting sad iron. This hand operated machine was made by The American Machine Company of Philadelphia. The Crown fluting iron was easy to operate. First the heated cast iron rods were inserted into the brass fluting barrels. The handle was turned which rolled the fabric between the barrels. The heat transferred to the brass rollers and crimped the fabric. Simple, yet very effective. The base of this fluter has raised lettering with Crown above and PAT. NOV 2.1875 July 3.1877 below. A similar model was shown in the Sears Roebuck catalog of 1902 selling for $3.25 including four cast iron heaters and tongs. This fluter is missing the heaters but includes the tongs. The hand crank has a wooden handle and there is an integrated screw clamp to attach the machine to the work surface. The fluting iron is in overall very good working condition with only minor loss to the decorative paint. This Crown fluting iron would be a valuable addition to any antique household tool collection or it could make a charming display piece for a sewing room.