Sunbeam Model T-20 Electric Toaster

Sunbeam Model T-20 Electric Toaster

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Double slice electric toaster. Metal, chrome-plated, with molded plastic side handles and base, black. Rectangular body, two long rectangular openings at top, interior heating elements and wires visible, decorative line motif engraved on both longer sides. Black molded plastic handles on either of the shorter sides, flat tops, debossed with “Sunbeam” logo. Rubber electric cord with two-pronged plug on one end, black plastic temperature knob on opposite end, debossed “DARKER LIGHTER” Bottom of toaster has attached silver metal plate, debossed “Sunbeam” logo at top, serif font, and engraved below: “MODEL T-20/MADE IN/UNITED STATES AMERICA/SUNBEAM CORPORATION/CHICAGO, U.S.A. TORONTO, CANADA/PATENTS 2197221, 2254687/2332518, 2347385, 2361446/2390947 2459169 2459170/DES. PAT./OTHER PATENTS PENDING/CANADA PATENTED 1942, ’44, ‘47/CSA APPROVAL NUMBER 8402/VOLTS 110-120 WATTS 1275/FOR A.C. ONLY/CAUTION/USE WITH WALL OR BASE RECEPTACLE ONLY/UL/OPEN COVER AND THOROUGHLY BRUSH/AND SHAKE OUT CRUMBS FREQUENTLY/PULL OUT WALL PLUG/BEFORE OPENING THIS COVER”
2197221, April 16, 1940, Ludvik j. Koci, for “Toaster and the like”
2254687, September 2, 1941, Ludvik j. Koci, for “Thermostat”
2332518, October 26, 1943, Ludvik j. Koci, assignor to Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, Chicago, Illinois, for “Thermostat”
2347385, April 25, 1944, Ivar Jepson and Horace C. Wright, assignors to Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, Chicago, Illinois, for “Cooking device”
2361446, October 31, 1944, Roy J. Anderson, assignor to Chicago Flexible Shaft Company, Chicago, Illinois, for “Automatic bread toaster”
2390947, December 11, 1945, Ludvik j. Koci, for “Compensating thermostat”
2459169, January 18, 1949, Ludvik j. Koci , assignor to Sunbeam Corporation, for “Radiation thermostat control for toaster”
2459170, January 18, 1949, Ludvik j. Koci , assignor to Sunbeam Corporation, for “Toaster control mechanism”
Maker is Sunbeam Corporation, Chicago, Illinois. All patents are held by assignors to Chicago Flexible Shaft Co., founded in the early 1890s by John K. Stewart and Thomas J. Clark, primarily manufacturing mechanical horse clippers and sheep shearers. In 1946 Chicago Flexible Shaft Co. became Sunbeam Corporation.
Currently not on view
Object Name
toaster, electric
date made
ca 1949
Sunbeam Corp.
place made
United States: Illinois, Chicago
Physical Description
metal, chrome-plated (overall material)
plastic (overall material)
rubber (cord material)
overall: 7 1/4 in x 12 7/8 in x 7 1/8 in; 18.415 cm x 32.7025 cm x 18.0975 cm
ID Number
nonaccession number
catalog number
See more items in
Home and Community Life: Domestic Life
Domestic Furnishings
Data Source
National Museum of American History
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I currently own a t-20c and it gets used came from a thrift shop for 5 bucks...I grew up with a similar one in the 60' parents finally gave up on it..( it had become a bit finicky, probably only needed the tension adjustment done)..they bought a 4 slice proctor was slow and nowhere near as good as the oldest sister ended up with the sunbeam...when I saw the sunbeam in the store, I grabbed it...did a full cleanup and disassembly on it...set up the carriage tension...still making great toast for me, I've since found 2 more similar toasters. They're, out in my workshop, waiting a refurbishment...might give to my 2 daughter's, will give them an idea of "old school" quality was like.
Brought this home from my mom and dad’s after they passed in 2019. Originally belonged to my maternal grandparents. Very fond memories of my grandpa making the toast while grandma fried the eggs. After my grandparents passed, my mom acquired it and used it frequently. I just watched a YouTube video about finding the date and mine is stamped Jan 20 1955, and it still has the cloth-braided cord. Thought about selling/giving it away because I have a nice toaster but now I appreciate it for what it is, a fine little piece of outstanding American craftsmanship.
First, let me say I don't skimp when it comes to my small appliances. And, I've spared no expense in buying the best of the best. Most of them grace my kitchen counter and look lovely sitting there. HOWEVER... WHICH one is my favorite? Why, that would be my lovely little model T-20B Sunbeam toaster. I am in AWE of this little baby. First, I'm very nostalgic and sentimental, so the history of this toaster alone it's enough to be in awe of it. It has been in our family for almost 70 years. For most of those years it sat on my mother's kitchen counter and was used almost daily. When Mom passed a few years ago and her home of 7 decades was sold, it was time to clean out the house. I found THIS little beauty perched on the edge of the dumpster in the backyard and quickly snatched her up. Ok, ok I'll cut to the chase. This fine piece of machinery, to the best of my knowledge, has never needed a repair. We use it in our home almost every day. I can tell you it works just as good now as it did 70 years ago. It's beautiful... and watching the delicate coils inside light up and the toaster silently and slowly lower the toast... and then doing that in reverse when bringing the toast back up... What can I say... It's a thing of beauty! The phrase "they don't make 'em like they used to!" was surely coined when describing old Bessie...
I am now 61. I believe this T20-B toaster owned to my grandmother for almost 40 years before I got it in the mid 1990's after she left her home due to her great age (she died in 2006 at 94). This toaster is still working and it is surely older than me! The thermostat has been replaced 10 years ago. We won't never see a quality product than this now.
In the 1950’s we as kids bought our Mother the T20 B Sunbeam Toaster for Mother’s Day. We all used it as kids. Mom has since passed away and I now own this toaster and continue to use it to this day (I leave unplugged when not in use because of the cloth cord). I absolutely love the way it toasts bread! Wish Sunbeam would make a replica to sell now a days. What a great product!
I remember this toaster from 1955 in my mother's kitchen. I still have it and it works fine. As my father sold appliances and repared them we learned how to take them apart and fix them, in this case sunbeam toasters. I keep buying them in garage sale (6) fix them up and give them to my family. I still have two spare ones. I did the same thing with Coleman lanterns from 1942 to 1978.
Well, children, I finally lost a friend that has been my companion since 1954, the wonderful Sunbeam Toaster !! After 2 different professional fix-it men spent time with it, it had to pass on. The last man got it to light up, but the mechanism is so minute and intracate, it needed new springs, not made now. This toaster was revoluntionary, and is the subject of many collectors. somehow when the coils got hot, it made the springs automatically put the toast down.    Since 1954, that is almost 66 years !!! and this strong and shiny chrome appliance stood the wear and tear of going thru moving and being packed in boxes  atleast 15 times !!!! It lived in SAn Diego, in 2 trailers, Los Angeles, Kansas City, Monterey, Beaumont, Lemon Grove and finally in Ramona. It will be missed so much !! was a present for my wedding in 1954.  Not many appliances are going to last that long.   I will set it up on a shelf, can't part with it.      love, Mom
These toasters are still out there! It took me two tries but I got a working one from the early 60s, for five dollars! There are sites online that will tell you how to clean and adjust them. If your old one has died watch the auctions! Its worth it!
I grew up in the 60s. We had a Sunbeam toaster model T-20b. It lasted for years but disappeared from my parents house after I went off to college. In 1995 I found the same/similar toaster at a San Francisco garage sale in mint condition with the original fabric fire hazard electrical cord. Paid $5 and knew I found a steal. I've been using it to this day with out a single issue and the body has a plated body worthy of a mirror and it looks fabulous among all my modern Williams-Sonoma appliances! No American Company makes appliances like this anymore.
My wife's and my birthdays are one day apart in February. In 1955 we received a Model T20B as a combined birthday gift. Inside the crumb tray is stamped the date "Jan 21, 1955". This toaster has been used almost daily ever since and has not had to have any repairs. When we tell people this, they can't believe it.
When we got married in 1977 we bought a new toaster it lasted about 5 years then burned up. My wife went to a church sale and bought this toaster Sunbeam Model T20B for one Dollar but I needed to replace the power cloth cord due to the cracks and bare wires 37 years later it works like new. I been looking on the internet and I think it was made between 1942 and 1949! GREAT TOASTER
I have two Sunbeam model T20 toasters. They were manufactured in 1957. They are both still in working order. They are the best appliance in have ever owned. I will never give them up. It is really neat to find that they are in the Smithsonian. Very interesting.

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