Artifact of the Month

"Universal" Electric Toaster, circa 1925

"Universal" Electric ToasterThis toaster was manufactured by Landers, Frary and Clark, of New Britain, Connecticut. Its ornamental design was patented by George E. Curtiss on February 14, 1922. The toaster also bears British and Canadian patents. Bread baskets, one on each side, swing out and over to toast each side of the bread. Because of this feature, collectors call it a "swing style" toaster.

The history of this toaster is unknown. It was purchased and donated to the Shiloh Museum years ago by a museum trustee.

A similar toaster was featured in Season 3, Episode 3 of the PBS Masterpiece Theater television series, Downton Abbey. In that episode, Mrs. Hughes, the housekeeper, shows off her new electric toaster to Mr. Carson, the butler. "I've given it to myself as a treat," she tells Carson. "If it's any good, I'm going to suggest getting one for the upstairs breakfast."

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