Steamfest 2014 Mystery Object revealed

Powerhouse Museum Collection, object 86/370.
Powerhouse Museum Collection, object 86/370.

Would you have guessed the mystery object on display in the Museum’s marquee at Steamfest this year? Visitors to this event, held in Maitland over the weekend of 12-13 April, were invited to have a go. Congratulations to Gary Adamson of Cardiff, NSW whose answer was the first correct entry drawn.

The ‘mystery object’ is a toaster. It was designed to fit over a gas ring or camp stove and toast up to four slices of bread at once. It was made in Sydney by Kande Kitchenware.

William Silver and Philip Friedlander patented the first pyramidal sheet metal toaster in the USA in 1902, seven years before the first successful electric toaster was made. Similar toasters are still being made today, mainly for the camping market.

Kande Kitchenware was established by Patrick Kavanagh and William English (the name Kande was formed from their initials, K and E) in 1922 and had its factory in Little Collins Street, Surry Hills. Kavanagh and English, a subsidiary of Kande Kitchenware, became a limited company in 1924, with both founders as directors.

Another director was Test cricketer Jack Gregory, an all-rounder who bowled with his right hand, batted with his left hand, fielded brilliantly, and slipped easily into the role of businessman. A report about the day jobs of cricketers in the Hobart Mercury of 26 December 1924 (based on a report in the Sydney Sun) paints this tongue-in-cheek picture of Gregory: ‘whilst seated comfortably in a chair, waiting for the other directors, [he] prepares traps for the unwary batsman.’ He enjoyed success in business as on the cricket field, helping the company grow from a tiny operation to a major manufacturer and exporter that employed 80 people in 1931, survived the Depression and kept manufacturing at least until the late 1960s.

Written by Debbie Rudder, Curator

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