Curling Irons, not as new as you might think

Curling Irons, not as new as you might think

The first, actual “curling iron” was patented by Sir Hiram Maxim (the same fellow who invented the machine gun) in 1866, but the device itself dates back over 6000 years. Considering antique curling tongs are seen or referred to in numerous cultures, it is doubtful a single person is responsible for the invention. Beauty is certainly not exclusive to one country or culture!

Typically, curling irons (or curling tongs) were made of iron, bronze, and other metals. Heating was done by the straightforward method of inserting into the fire or laying atop a hot stove. The handles were usually made of a different, non-heat conducting material such as wood, bone, ivory, etc. Most handles were plain and utilitarian, but some expensive models had nickel-plated handles carved ornately. Note the Victorian Era example in the lower left corner of the image below. The tong length and diameter varied, depending upon the intended use, which was not only for a woman’s hair but also for wigs and beards.



Sharon Lathan

Sharon Lathan is the best-selling author of The Darcy Saga, a ten-volume sequel series to Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice.

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These don’t seem to have changed much over the years, except that they are now not heated in the fire or over a flame in a special box.
I had some but mostly used them to straighten my hair. My daughter had almost everything, curling tongues, heated rollers, crimping tongues, you name it! I have had my hair short now for many years so have no need for them (although they may have come in handy last year when hairdressers were closed!

Jean Stillman

This was such an informative and fun post. I worked in the beauty industry for more than 25 years, so I had several opportunities to see some of the antique beauty implements (which our employees referred to as “implements of torture”). Women have always had to endure a lot, in the name of beauty.

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