Friday, January 27, 2012

Vintage Rowenta toaster: the best thing since sliced bread?

Can you believe I've lived the past few years without toasted bread in the morning?

Unimaginable, right? Well, say hello to my new toaster, the Rowenta E 5214!

This beauty probably dates to the 1950s but may be even older. The website lists no date in their entry for this model, but I base my guess on the style and certain construction features.

Some call it a Klapptoaster, a "flap toaster" because you insert the bread not in the middle, but on the side by pressing down the black Bakelite triangle on the side.

When the flap closes, the toast sits nestled between the outer hull and inner grill, with one side exposed to the heat coming from the single heating element, a metal coil in the middle.

The construction is symmetrical, so the other side looks exactly the same as this one.

As you can see, the metal needs some polishing, and the insides need to be thoroughly cleaned of crumbs, but considering the age of this device (ca. 60 years old), it is in decent shape. The bottom Bakelite guards were broken and reglued, but you can barely notice.

But wait, there's more!

The Rowenta E 5214 is a so-called "turn-over" toaster, not because you are supposed to heat turnovers in it—although that does sound quite delicious—but because of a special finger-saving feature. The Germans call this a Wendetoaster, from the verb wenden, to turn.

You might have already noticed that there is only one heating element but two slots for bread.

"How do you turn over the bread without burning your fingers?", you ask?

Here's how:

...with ample apologies for the highly amateurish video.

Unfortunately my E 5214 came without came without the detachable power cord.

The standard plug type used in Germany back then for toasters and a number of other appliances was the so-called "Waffle-iron plug" (Waffeleisenstecker), sometimes called the clothes iron plug ("B├╝geleisenstecker"), DIN 49491.

Two metal prongs with ceramic housing.

I am still looking for one, but in the meantime I found a very dangerous way to ensure that my toaster functions, by holding the bare wires from an old extension cord up to the two metal posts pictured above.

The original plug likely had Bakelite housing with a ceramic piece containing the metal contacts. The cord itself was probably covered with woven cloth, like the one below:

Source: article on toasters

Incidentally, I had a long conversation the other day with the owner of a thrift and antique store here in town. I was there to look for tan appropriate power cord. In addition running a brick and mortar business, he also liquidates estates and offers a decluttering service. Since he comes across cables by the thousands, he bundles them up (even the old ones) and disposes of them as electronic waste ("Elektroschrott"). In his words, "it costs less to throw them out than to resell them."

UPDATE: My husband just walked in with a surprise as I was finishing this post: he bought me the red version of this toaster, complete with vintage cable (not cloth covered, but I'll survive)! He heard me talking yesterday about how it would work so much better with my kitchen's red and white color scheme than the black one I found. What a sweetie! I promise pictures as soon as it arrives.

UPDATE (April 5, 2012): I finally posted the pictures of my red beauty. Here's the link to my post, which also includes pictures of all the other bright red items in my kitchen: Red-hot kitchen accessories.

1 comment:

  1. I like this vintage toaster. Thanks for sharing. I also visited your post "Red-hot kitchen accessories". All are adorable and my favorite is the lamp.


The Hausfrau eagerly awaits your thoughts.