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Upon examining the iron more closely, I realized what I held in my hand was more of an example of industrial age “work art” as it was a super duty utilitarian device to perform a mundane task or save labor. As with nearly all of the products of its generation, it was clearly a piece of work that everyone involved with its ultimate design and manufacturer was proud of. Even the original graphics supplied on the box was a work of art. A  June Cleverish 1950’s housewife irons a skirt while smartly dressed and smiling at the pleasure of her chore! 

Sunbeam’s description explained that this iron was “Easy- to- SEE, Easy-to-SET, STEAM or DRY Control”.  The best part of the description shouts at the consumer HEATS FASTER…..STAYS HOTTER…..IRONS FASTER”.  The cool packaging aside, I needed to see if this iron would cut the mustard or if it was the latest addition to our furr- down collection. After all it was 50 years old and I need to make sure it still worked. As I plugged it in and set the control to “cotton”, the iron did as promised all those years ago, it heated up precisely on time. I quickly grabbed a shirt from the closet, clutched a can of spray starch in one hand and armed my other hand with my new handheld locomotive.

As I sprayed the starch and let it penetrate the fibers, I had the feeling that my “new” old iron would stay true to its engineering.  As the iron first went to work, I quickly realized that I was holding the last of the great ones in my hand.

Today, this iron would be easily considered commercial quality, easily out classing anything with a “homeowner” classification. (What does that mean anyway… “homeowner”? Is that a license to build an inferior product? Is it an excuse to explain that there is such a thing as a better product; it just doesn’t exist on your level?  Give me a break, just build it right!) In fact, today I would say this iron would supersede anything on the market. After all it is every bit of 55 years old now and it still irons nearly everyday.

As I worked with the iron and made my way around the shirt, the true test was to see if the iron would maintain the heat at the level it was when it warmed up, or continues to heat past that point eventually scorching the shirt even though you are moving the device quickly.  The Sunbeam S4 passed with flying colors.

Since that first ironing experience, my wife and I have used this iron nearly every day for the last decade.  I like the iron so much, that I purchased another nearly mint one in the box, a few years ago, just to have a back up incase my other one decides it’s retiring. I know the answer to that one, it won’t, and even if it does we can repair it. But heck, an iron this beautiful deserves company, right?.... Absolutely.