This past weekend, while attending a film festival in Syracuse, New York, I took a bit of time off from watching movies and went downtown to photograph a couple of Art Deco buildings. When finished taking pictures, I stopped in at the Syracuse Antiques Exchange , a four-story antique mall just north of downtown. I wasn’t planning to buy anything, until I came across a 1920’s toaster (as I said in an earlier post, I like kitchen collectibles). The Toastmaster 1A1 was a product of the Waters-Genter Company of Minneapolis, Minnesota and introduced in 1926. This was the first automatic toaster with a pop-up mechanism sold for home use. First year models do not have serial numbers on the name plate. According to the serial number, this one was manufactured sometime between June 1929 and August 1930. I haven’t been able to confirm this, but I’ve heard the original retail price was $25.00 ($330.00, today).
This makes the fifth vintage toaster that I have in my collection and I was not in the market for any more, but the price on this one was too good to pass it up, just under $20.00. It’s not perfect, there are a few spots of rust and the original rubber feet and the adjustable timing stud are missing, but overall it is in better shape and was a lot cheaper than other old toasters I’ve seen at flea markets or antique stores. The electric cloth cord is almost like new. And it works really well.
Above is a detailed view of the two operating levers, the one on the left is the pop up lever and the right one is the length of time the bread stays in the toaster. To make toast press the right lever down to the desired toasting time, then press down the pop up lever, this turns on the current (when it pops up the current turns off). After polishing the toaster up with my favorite chrome cleaner, rubbing alcohol, I gave it a test run. I set the cooking length at “D” and dropped the bread in. After a short time the toaster started sending up smoke signals and I hit the emergency release tab (the small piece of metal just to the left of the right lever) and what popped up was not so much a piece of toast, but more like a roof shingle. The second test run was much better and produced a perfectly cooked slice of toast.
So will this new addition to my collection ever replace my Universal “drop down” toaster, probably not. Is this the most Deco toaster ever made – no. Am I glad that I bought it – yes. This is the grandfather of all the truly Art Deco style toasters that came in the late 1920’s, 1930’s and early 1940’s.
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