Toast Poast Number Automatic Beyond Belief

There is something indescribably warming about being closely associated with toasters.  Close friends Sorry-Birds-Ellen and Suits-Herself-Cindy sent me the following, thoughtful women that they are, and well read.

Why Is My Toaster So Bad?
By Julie Lasky
New York Times, October 2, 2011

In terms of aesthetics and performance, the toaster has been devolving for a generation. According to Eric A. Murrell of the Toaster Collectors Association, the Toastmaster 1B14, a handsome hunk of chrome and steel discontinued in 1960, remains “absolutely the end-all-and-be-all toaster there ever was.” Among its charms was a patented timing system that didn’t tick off seconds but used its internal heating mechanism to gauge the bread and produce a consistent shade of brown. Collectors also dote on the Sunbeam T-20 Radiant Control model, which was introduced in 1949 with the slogan “Automatic beyond belief” — a reference to its ability to automatically lower and cook the bread. “It’s still one of the most elegant inventions in the household,” laments the technology-and-design historian Edward Tenner, of the machine that was discontinued in the mid-’90s. Asked to choose between the T-20 and 1B14, Michael Sheafe, a New York dealer of vintage appliances,
said, “It’s like asking which child you love more.” What doomed these classic designs was cost. The original Sunbeam T-20 cost more than $22.50 when it was introduced in 1949, about a third of a week’s wages for the average family. The dark age of the toaster began when consumers started choosing price over functionality, particularly during the 1980s. The market is now glutted with machines that toast unevenly and retail for less than $10. “Mind you,” Sheafe added, “that’s what they’re worth.”

“I am going to try to use the phrase “automatic beyond belief” at some point today,” said Suits-Herself-Cindy.

Reading about old toasters causes me to mourn the 20-or-so beauties that used to hang around this place before they were donated to the Toaster Museum Foundation.
Here’s one now, from the Cyber Toaster Museum. What a beloved beaut.

Manufacturer: Chicago Flexible Shaft Co
Brand Name: Sunbeam
Model Number: T9

The T-9 Half-Round Sunbeam.

Produced from the late-1930s through the 40s, The lovely oval design (is) the last word in modern styling by George Scharfenberg (from an advertisement).

Sometimes called the World’s Fair toaster as this toaster was first made in 1939 – the date of the 1939 New York World’s Fair – and some find the etched designs on the T-9 to be symbolic of the Fair’s logo.

This toaster was generously donated by Lisa Cherkasky, Arlington, VA.
As much as I loved ’em, I was happy to place them in a good home.


2 responses to “Toast Poast Number Automatic Beyond Belief

  1. LC,
    We had an old Toastmaster 1B14 that I inherited from my folks when I went off to work in Boston. It was the “toaster that would not die”. Served me relentlessly through three apartment moves, and two houses after Donna and I were a couple. Was sold at a yard sale about 8 years ago, and for all we know, it is STILL toasting away.
    We have a white Proctor-Silex model now that works well enough, but it has all the stylistic verve of a lump of chalk. I think I will ask Santa for a vintage Toastmaster this holiday season!

  2. That thing probably IS still toasting away. Perhaps Santa can bring you one that is identical. I understand that he shops yard sales, too!

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