Pauline strikes while the iron is hot
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.
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.