Editor’s note: “In the Archives” is a biweekly series on local area history.
“The nature of my invention,” wrote Ypsilanti tinsmith Mathias Stein in his 1876 patent application, “consists in the construction and arrangement of a machine for heating sad irons and roasting coffee, either simultaneously or at different times, as will be hereinafter more fully set forth.”
Mathias’s intricate 6-part invention, about the size of a large desktop printer, was a tabletop stove. Over a well of coals, it simultaneously roasted coffee and heated solid metal flatirons for ironing clothes, called “sad irons” – one old meaning of “sad” is dense or solid.
Mathias probably had high hopes for his two-in-one cast iron gadget. Shortly after his patent was granted, at age 31, he married the 28-year-old Josephine and the couple settled on Ballard Street just south of Washtenaw Avenue.