18th Century Triple-Barrelled Goffering Iron

Material: Wrought iron
Dimensions: Height: 40cm / 15 ¾in
Place of Origin: England
Date: Mid-18th century
Maker or Retailer: Unknown
Present Location: Private collection


The goffering iron was used to shape and smooth fabric, especially decorative features of clothing, e.g. caps, frills and ruffles. One or more barrels of the iron would be heated by inserting into it a red-hot iron rod similar to a poker. The fabric was then stretched over the hot barrel to shape it.

Goffering irons were introduced to England in the 17th century and were made in wrought iron and later in brass and steel, as well as in various combinations of metals. They were available with single or multiple barrels of various sizes, some examples having as many as four. The present example is in wrought iron and has three barrels. The heating rods for goffering irons were very plain in the earlier period, but later models were usually fitted with a wooden handle. During the 19th century it became possible to buy decorative stops, which could be inserted in the open ends of the barrels when not in use.


  • This goffering iron is illustrated in Oliver St John, A Gallimaufry of Goffering, 1984, sheet 4, no. 4.2  (private publication).
  • See also J Seymour Lindsay, Iron and Brass Implements of the English House, Medici Society, London 1924; revised and enlarged edition Alec Tiranti, London 1964, p. 36 and figs.192 -195, 198-204

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