Iron Shaped Toothpick Holder

I was out to lunch yesterday, stopping at a favorite thrift store, when I noted this small iron-shaped toothpick holder.

The store’s tag mentioned it was a sad iron. Needless to say, I purchased the cute vintage item. I asked the store’s manager about its age, but they were not able to tell me much. When I got home, I began to research it.

What Exactly is a Sad Iron?

In the 19th century an iron could weigh anywhere from 5 to 9 pounds and was made of solid metal.

The heavy iron would be heated on a stove. The iron’s handle would also become quite hot. Through the weight of the hefty iron and the heat, the wrinkles ironed out.

Ironing with a heavy, hot iron was a difficult chore and, thus, the irons were called sad irons.

Vintage Collections
Sad Iron Toothpick Holder

Iron-Shaped Toothpick Holder

Now getting back to the vintage toothpick holder.

I noted this one is made of porcelain-type material. It is hand painted with a mauve-colored flower with three green leaves painted on each side. The iron’s hand is accented with two stripes of green paint. The top of the iron is open to insert the toothpicks. The iron-shaped toothpick holder is about 2 1/8-inches tall and 1 1/2 at the base. There is slight crazing on the piece which makes me think it has some age to it. There is also no manufacturer’s markings on the piece.

Brief History of Toothpicks

Toothpicks came way before the introduction of toothbrushes to remove bits of food stuck between your teeth.

During the Victorian age, toothpicks were made of silver, gold or ivory. They also came with matching cases. A lady of the time, would attach this to her waist band while the gentleman would attach it to his watch fob.

Then in 1869, Charles Forster invented a machine to make wooden toothpicks. This made mass-produced toothpicks available to everyone. Restaurants, diners and the average person could now afford to offer or use wooden toothpicks.

A Variety of Toothpick Holders

Some of the first toothpick holders were pressed glass containers in the shape of vases, animals, or other objects.

Ceramic toothpick holders came about in the late 19th century.

Toothpick holders are made in a variety of materials in anything from glass, metal to plastic.

Is it a Toothpick Holder?

Sometimes it is difficult to tell if a small container is a mini vase, candle holder, salt cellar, egg cup or toothpick holder.

The National Toothpick Holders Collectors’ Society suggests, to determine if it is a toothpick holder, look for the following:

  1. The toothpicks need to come above the container’s rim for easy removal.
  2. The item should not easily fall over when full of toothpicks. If it does, then it is probably not a toothpick holder.
Vintage Toothpick Holder Collection

Ending Notes on the Sad Iron Toothpick Holder Blog

I always enjoy finding a special item such as this Sad Iron Toothpick Holder. It will look nicely with my other wooden stove toothpick holder.

As of late, most people don’t use toothpicks to pick their teeth, but a toothpick is invaluable to test if a baked cake or brownie is done.

And, so begins another collection at Farmhouse Magic Blog?

Happy Thrift Store Shopping!

Research Sites: and National Toothpick Holders Collectors’

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