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Vintage toasters

Benzadmiral

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,815
Location
The Swamp
I did a search, but nothing specifically about this came up.

This morning my modern toaster died. A search for "toasters made in the U.S.A." comes up with things that are $280 or more. The Famous Auction Site has loads of vintage 1950s Sunbeam, GE, and Toastmaster toasters, and many of them say "works well" or "toasts nicely." For $30 or so I can take a chance. But have any of you used a 1950s 2-slice, pops-up-when-done toaster on an everyday basis? Sure, the slots won't take bagels, but do they toast according to the setting lever (i.e., if I set it to "dark," will it come up dark)?

The Toastmaster 1B14 is touted in several places as a solid and reliable toaster, made from 1947 to 1961 -- we might have had one when I was a kid. Any experiences?
 

1930artdeco

Practically Family
Messages
671
Location
oakland
The one I use is from the 30's and is a single slice toaster. I just cleaned it up and she works like a champ. Not charred if you turn it all the way to dark but toasted. Not sure if that is normal or not for mine.

Mike
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
33,252
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
Those are pretty simple units -- they operate by a thermostat opening when the toast compartments reach a certain temperature. That triggers a catch which springs up the toast and shuts off power to the heating elements. The main thing that can go wrong with them is that the thermostat fails -- in which case the toast will not pop up, the heat will not shut off, and eventually the toast will incinerate. The inside can also get clogged up by crumbs, dripped pop-tart jelly, pieces of fish sticks (don't ask), or various other debris, causing the mechanism to operate sluggishly. Or the wiring can get brittle from long exposure to heat.

If you get one, examine it carefully for evidence of long, hard use. If the power cord is cracked or frayed or worn-looking, the insides are pretty certain to be full of crumbs and guck, and the thermostat may be nearing its end. An NOS in the box model would be a better bet, but there still could be issues with brittle wiring as a result of storage in an attic or garage. Buyer beware!

If you really need toasted bagels, consider a 1930s-style manual-turnover model. These will hold even the fattest bagel comfortably, and there's no thermostat, switch, or internal spring mechanism to get out of order. The shade of the toast is controlled by you watching the toast and pulling the plug out of the wall when it's to your taste. The disadvantage is that you have to monitor the toaster all the time it's operating, lest you wind up with bagels flambe. (Pop tarts burn even more spectacularly, with a clear, blue flame.)
 

Benzadmiral

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,815
Location
The Swamp
Those are pretty simple units -- they operate by a thermostat opening when the toast compartments reach a certain temperature. That triggers a catch which springs up the toast and shuts off power to the heating elements. The main thing that can go wrong with them is that the thermostat fails -- in which case the toast will not pop up, the heat will not shut off, and eventually the toast will incinerate. The inside can also get clogged up by crumbs, dripped pop-tart jelly, pieces of fish sticks (don't ask), or various other debris, causing the mechanism to operate sluggishly. Or the wiring can get brittle from long exposure to heat.

If you get one, examine it carefully for evidence of long, hard use. If the power cord is cracked or frayed or worn-looking, the insides are pretty certain to be full of crumbs and guck, and the thermostat may be nearing its end. An NOS in the box model would be a better bet, but there still could be issues with brittle wiring as a result of storage in an attic or garage. Buyer beware!

If you really need toasted bagels, consider a 1930s-style manual-turnover model. These will hold even the fattest bagel comfortably, and there's no thermostat, switch, or internal spring mechanism to get out of order. The shade of the toast is controlled by you watching the toast and pulling the plug out of the wall when it's to your taste. The disadvantage is that you have to monitor the toaster all the time it's operating, lest you wind up with bagels flambe. (Pop tarts burn even more spectacularly, with a clear, blue flame.)
Lizzie,

Yesterday I received the vintage GE unit I bought on eBay, and it's clean, cord unfrayed and uncracked, and works fine -- except, as you say, the thermostat is probably shot. Even on the lightest setting the toast doesn't pop up unless I do it manually. That's not a real deal killer, since the Cancel function on my recent, modern toaster failed a year ago anyway, and I needed to pull the plug from the wall to end the incineration session. With the GE, I just pop it up.

For a $60 or $70 unit, I'd return it for a refund. For $27, which included shipping, it's hardly worth sending it back. And aside from the one flaw, I like its simplicity and its clean looks.
 

3fingers

One Too Many
Messages
1,797
Location
Illinois
I use a Toastmaster 1B12 every morning. I've had the one I use a couple of years I suppose. I paid less than $20.00 for it delivered.
Gave it a cleaning and it has been trouble free. I ran across another one that looks nearly new for $8.00 one day, so I now have a spare if this one gives up the ghost. I have in mind that the 1B14 will accept thicker slices, but I may be mistaken. I do not plan to ever buy another "modern" toaster because they do not do as good a job as their older brethren nor do not have the style of the classic machines. Besides, how can you not love something that has served so many so well for 60 or 70 years and is still going.
 

Rodney

Familiar Face
Messages
60
Location
Centralia, WA
We're currently using one from the 20s or 30s that I rewired. When I got it the power cord was cut and it had a dead short inside the base. I managed to get it working. It's like Lizzie said. You plug it in, put your bread in and flip it to do the other side. Once it's warmed up it takes about 30 seconds a side for toast, maybe a little less. I actually enjoy using it.
I had a 50s chrome one a few years ago that I still regret selling.
I wouldn't hesitate to buy another old toaster. They're pretty hard to kill.
Rodney
 

Stanley Doble

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,808
Location
Cobourg
I remember the old 50s streamlined chrome toasters. They were way better than anything you can buy today. Heavy, well built, and toasts the bread a lot faster than today's cheapies. But as others have pointed out they do wear out after 20 or 30 years of daily service. I know how to repair or replace the nichrome heating element wire but can you get replacement thermostats? And maybe springs? I recall they weakened over time.

Be careful not to touch the chrome part when they are hot, you can burn yourself.
 

LizzieMaine

Bartender
Messages
33,252
Location
Where The Tourists Meet The Sea
The earliest "automatic" toasters didn't use a thermostat at all -- there was a clockwork timer mechanism that controlled how long the heat was on and which sprung the toast up at the end of the cycle. These toasters, which were popular in the 1920s and early 1930s, are usually still functional when found -- if there's a problem it's something that can usually be cured by taking out the timer and flushing out the old lubricant with naphtha and then re-lubricating with light clock oil. These are a good alternative for someone who doesn't want to mess around with thermostats, but also doesn't want to deal with a manual flip-over toaster.

These toasters can be instantly identified by the ticking sound they make as the toast cooks. It's loud, like a Big Ben alarm clock, so you're unlikely to forget that the toaster is operating.
 
Messages
16,974
Location
New York City
⇧, pretty sure my grandmother had one of those as her toaster sounded like the atomic bomb Bond defused toward the end of "Goldfinger." And it was clearly a timer as it toasted a piece of wonder bread, an english muffin or a heavy biscuit for the exact same amount of time. As a kid, you just intuited by weight how far to push the lever down or if something would need a second round of toasting.

My guess is it was a late '40s, early '50s one that weighed more than I did until I reached age 5, had a cloth-covered cord and when you pushed the lever down it felt as firm and sturdy as if you were locking a bank vault (not like today's flimsy levers that feel ready to break out of the box). Also, and I'm only guessing from memory, but I think the plug and lever were bakelite.
 

Benzadmiral

Call Me a Cab
Messages
2,815
Location
The Swamp
Update: This one served me from last November until this month. I replaced it, a ca. 1960s General Electric toaster with . . . another one of the exact same model. The first one was fine, except that its thermostat never worked, as I said above, and last month the latch stopped being reliable, so I couldn't simply push the lever down and busy myself pouring coffee until my toast was ready. This new one works flawlessly.
 

Studebaker Driver

One of the Regulars
Messages
223
Location
The Big Valley in the Golden State
I have an old toaster given to me by an elderly relative (dead 35 years) and I've never seen one like it. It has a motor in it, powering a sort of conveyor. The bread is inserted in a slot at one end (not the top) of the toaster and this conveyor alternately lifts, moves forward a fraction of an inch, then drop the bread. There is a round porthole window in the side and the toast gives a definite "marching" impression as it makes its halting way through the thing. The light/dark control adjusts the height the toast is lifted and, as a result, it moves farther forward (faster progress) through it. Has anybody else seen one?
 
Bump with my T-9 Sunbeam "1939 Worlds Fair" Toaster. These were made until about 1948 or so when a new model (the T-20) was introduced. They went nuts engraving this one....all four sides and the top, VERY Art Deco. And has a dial to warm the toast after cooking it.....(turns off the heat but keeps the toast "submerged" in the unit, thereby keeping the toast warm inside). Mine works VERY well (no bagels without squishing them). As an aside the later T-20 recognized the presence in the home of Bagels and hand cut bread with its wider slots! I am looking for one of those......to go with this one.
1663624274185.png

1663624325732.png

Note the cool "Glow Jewel" when it is heating.....
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Messages
10,707
Location
My mother's basement
^^^^^
I, too, happen to have a Sunbeam T9. It’s now on a shelf in the basement utility room. I used it regularly until an unexpected twist of fate dropped a gee-whiz Breville motorized toaster on my kitchen counter. The old Sunbeam’s lever that lowered the bread didn’t always “catch” properly without depressing it a couple-three or four times, but other than that it worked fine. I figure the repair would be simple enough for a person more adept at such things than I will ever be.

The Breville is quite nice, as are all our other countertop appliances bearing that name. But I’ll be surprised if I get more than a decade of regular use out them.
 
This is a really clean Sterling AEUF "flip flop" toaster which was patented in 1935, a little late to the game for this type it has NO switch (When plugged in, it is always on, so you can toast/warm your hands too I guess....:oops:).

I really like the full Art Deco look of this one....the silver and black along with the black and white cloth cord definitely evokes the feel of an earlier time....:)

1666097461233.png
1666097482286.png
 
Ok, is no one else sharing their toasters?

Well, here are two more "Flip Flop" toasters, BOTH patented in 1914 and each circa 1920 or so. Both toasters feature a nice wide top to keep your toast warm.

Each also has an extra long cloth cord with a build in on/off switch, a nice feature for the time.

First is a Westinghouse "Turnover Toaster" works without any mechanical movement to automatically drop the toast into the "cover/door" (if you wish to call it that) so you don't have to touch the toast to cook the other side as it is automatically turned to the other side when the cover/door is closed (albeit upside down).
1668467971279.png

1668468323162.png


1668466786641.png


And then THE toaster that gave name to the whole style of "A frame" toasters, a Marion Giant "Flip Flop" toaster that mechanically pushes out the bottom of the bread onto the cover/door, again auto turning the bread as above without touching it (again upside down).

I LOVE the quote on the tag: "Make Toast Your Breakfast Food"!

This thing is GIANT and will take a good sized piece of craft bread, bagel, whatever....It is my "go to" for making my unusual size "breakfast food". ;)

I still like to use my Sunbeam T-9 for daily use.


1668468457933.png
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1668468409701.png

Of course these toasters went to the wayside with the arrival of the "pop-up" toasters (except in our house).

Anyway....enjoy seeing these old boys! (I know I do)
 

vintagewool

New in Town
Messages
46
This morning my modern toaster died.

You can march into a bank and demand a free toaster.

 

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