This is a Cast Iron Loop handle English Goffering Iron (circa 1880). This English Goffering Iron was used to press pleats and ridges. To Goffer means to crimp. Goffering is the process of creating frills so they are evenly and finely gathered. Goffering irons became popular in the 1600’s.
English society maintained a clear dividing line between the classes, ranks, and professions. Clothing was the markers of these lines. Englishmen believed their class structure was one of the reasons they would succeed in colonizing America. Colonial Military officers wanted the prestige that came with having an upper class wardrobe. The finer the clothing, the more power and wealth you had. Fine Victorian and Elizabethan style clothing of the 17th and 18th century were often adorned with ruffles and flounces. The collars and cuffs needed to be crimped and pleated. Ruffles needed to keep their rounded shape. The task of crimping or goffering Victorian clothes was made easier by the fact that the collars and cuffs were detachable. This was done so they could be washed more frequently than the heavier clothes they were attached to.
Once the crimping was done, they were sewn back on the goffering iron consisting of a step iron barrel with a poker slug to heat the barrel. The irons did not weigh much because they were hollow. The tube was heated by inserting the metal poker rod, which was taken out fresh from the hot stove or hearth. The frilled cuffs would be curled around the cylinder. The discovery of starch allowed ruffles to be made wider without losing shape. The material to be ironed would first be stiffened with white starch.
The Iron Loop Handle English Goffering Iron is one of the many fascinating antiques at The PAST Antiques Marketplace. To see our full selection, stop by on Route 85 in Montville, Connecticut! Click on the photos to view them larger and check back next week for another Trivia Tuesday!