Pauline strikes while the iron is hot

Central Leader - - News - By Lisa Sloan

You would be hard pressed to find a space in Pauline Clarke’s home that wasn’t taken up by an iron.

The keen col­lec­tor’s liv­ing room, bed­rooms and hall­ways are lined with an­tique irons and iron stands dat­ing back to the 17th cen­tury.

She has spent years trav­el­ling the world to find th­ese rare irons and now boasts a col­lec­tion of more than 800 from an­cient China and Vic­to­rian times through to the 1960s.

She also has a se­ries of tools such as gof­fer­ing irons, which were used to per­fect bows, frills, creases and sleeves on Vic­to­rian clothes.

Ms Clarke’s col­lec­tion spans through­out the his­tory of iron­ing in New Zealand.

So she felt it fit­ting to dis­play them dur­ing this year’s Auck­land Her­itage Fes­ti­val, run­ning un­til Oc­to­ber 5.

More than 100 pieces from her col­lec­tion are in­cluded in High­wic’s Any Old Irons ex­hi­bi­tion.

She says her quest to find rare irons hasn’t run out of steam yet.

“They are an im­por­tant part of do­mes­tic his­tory in New Zealand, and if I don’t keep them, who is go­ing to?

“I am pas­sion­ate about my col­lec­tion and I live with th­ese irons ev­ery day.”

Ms Clarke’s love of irons be­gan when she bought and ren­o­vated a his­toric miner’s cot­tage in Thames.

She was given two old irons by an el­derly neigh­bour as a gift, and was so in­trigued she bought an­other at an auc­tion.

She has trav­elled from Eng­land to the United States and made friends with other col­lec­tors along the way.

The old­est piece in her col­lec­tion is an an­cient Chi­nese iron re­sem­bling an open saucepan which was filled with coals or hot sand to iron.

Oth­ers in­clude flat irons from the Vic­to­rian era, irons heated with char­coal, metal slug irons, and shaped irons used for creases, but­ton holes and sleeves.

De­spite her large col­lec­tion, Mrs Clarke says she will prob­a­bly never find all the irons she wants.

“There are just thou­sands, and thou­sands,” she says.

Any Old Irons runs at High­wic House, Ep­som, un­til Oc­to­ber 5, ex­clud­ing Mon­days and Tues­days.

Mrs Clarke will demon­strate how to use the irons us­ing the house’s coal range.

For more in­for­ma­tion, call 524-5729.

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Smooth moves: Iron col­lec­tor Pauline Clarke demon­strates how to use an an­tique flat iron. She is ex­hibit­ing part of her 800-strong col­lec­tion at High­wic for the Auck­land City Coun­cil’s her­itage fes­ti­val.

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