Welcome to the fascinating world of trivet collecting!
By definition, a trivet is a three-legged stand. When used at an early hearth, three legs were important, because the design made a tall trivet more stable and less likely to tip over. As the hearth made way for the freestanding stove, new designs were created with shorter legs; these were used to protect a surface from the effects of a hot pan or iron. The term “stand” most correctly designates a trivet used to support an iron. It’s also used to describe a support with four or more legs, such as a tea or coffee stand. Today the terms trivet and stand are often used interchangeably.
Trivets continue to be manufactured and are still used today. Stands served their utilitarian purpose until the 1930s, when the electric iron (with its built-in rest) came into common use. Until then, while some stands were purchased, others were included in the purchase of a fuel iron or sadiron, or were received as an advertising promotion.
Trivets experienced a resurgence in popularity during the 1950s through 1970s, when housewives rediscovered their decorative appeal. A number of the more popular antique designs were cast at foundries such as Wilton and John Wright. Fortunately for collectors, the majority of contemporary trivets were signed at casting so that they are easily identified as reproduction.
Some collectors specialize in a specific era, while others welcome trivets from all eras in their collections. I choose to classify my trivets and stands as noted below.
• Antique: 100 years old or older
• Vintage: pre-1940
• Contemporary, Older Castings: 1940-1970
• Contemporary, Recent Castings: post 1970
Below I’ve provided a list of the categories of items that would be of interest to a trivet collector. Please check back at WorthPoint regularly for future research articles, which will discuss identification; cleaning, storage and display; value and rarity; the recognition of reproductions; and reference sources.
• Trivets Cast of Metal
• Wire Trivets
• Porcelain and Pottery Trivets
• Trivets of Wrought or Hand Forged Iron
• Sterling or Plated Silver Trivets
• Wood and Paper Trivets
• Reference Books and Trade Catalogs
• Ephemera: Paper, Postcards and Trade Cards
• Go-Withs: items that enhance the display potential of a collection such as Irons, Sprinkle Bottles, Figurines, Linens, Images and Kitchenalia
Are trivets and stands valuable and collectible? The answer is YES! The scrap metal drives of World War II reconfigured many earlier trivets into armaments and battleships, leaving fewer to be collected. Value can vary from $5 for the most common contemporary design to hundreds (or thousands) of dollars for the most elusive trivet. In 2007, a set of antique brass irons within two ornate trivets sold at auction for $24,000!
It’s always important for any collector to interact with others who share the same interests. Trivet collectors in the United States are fortunate to have a fantastic organization that can meet all their needs for networking, collecting, education and socialization. The Pressing Iron & Trivet Collectors of America (formerly the Midwest Sad Iron Collectors Club) was founded in 1984, publishes a quarterly newsletter and meets annually at a national Convention. PITCA also holds periodic meetings in regional chapters around the country. Any collector of trivets, irons or other laundry day items would benefit greatly from joining! For more information, contact PITCA at http://www.irons.com/msicc.htm
And, of course, you are cordially invited to join our WorthPoint Community, Trivet & Stand Enthusiasts.
Lynn Rosack is a Worthologist who specializes in trivets and kitchenalia