Pretty much every kitchen in Britain today will have two electrical items on the counter top – a kettle and a toaster. If our kettle breaks down we can just boil water in a pan but the toaster is a bit more tricky to replace. In the past we used to use open fires to give slices of bread that crispy, brown surface we call toast (from Latin tostus, to burn or scorch) – and many devices were invented to make this easier:
A rare George lll steel and fruitwood handle toasting fork from the 1820s.
Victorian toasting iron hand held over a fire.
An iron ‘free hands’ toaster.
But in 1893 Colonel Compton of Crompton and Co. invented the first electric toaster in Leeds England. This was the forerunner of today’s toaster. The device was quite simple and a person had to turn the bread over to toast both sides and turn the machine off by hand.
It may be a bit of a puzzle to some people but early electric toasters are considered collectable – real period features. Take a look at these:
The Flopper – (early 1900s) a very simple wire-frame toaster from Steel Craft -came in a range of colours which didn’t last very long.
The Pincher – American Beauty by the American Electrical Heat Company.
The Percher – acted as a toast rack too – by General Electric.
And then there is this – a very rare Willow Pattern beauty, an object of desire among collectors.
I imagine that in the future our current toasters will be collectable with sellers extolling the value of ‘The Dualit, a 21st century must-have in a range of colours.’
Keep yours in the back of a cupboard next time you change it for a new one.