So many irons in the fire
August 10, 2012 11:59 AM   Subscribe

A special edition two pound coin from 2006 depicts the famous roof of Paddington Station, to commemorate Isambard Kingdom Brunel. The edge inscription reads "SO MANY IRONS IN THE FIRE". Why?

I appreciate that this is a common idiomatic phrase, but I can find no evidence online that it was said of, or by, Brunel; whether by his contemporaries or indeed anyone since. Practically the only results yielded by Googling for the edge inscription relate to the coin itself. I had more success with Google Books, but nothing directly related to Brunel.
posted by Talkie Toaster to Work & Money (2 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
There's a single indirect mention of the phrase in one of his diaries.
Oh for a lighthouse: I must find some place where one is wanted, besides my scheme which I really think a good one, the carrying on such a work exposed to sea storms and the devil knows what would just have suited me. If we can get any body to go on with the gaz machine. Oh dear how many irons and none hot!
There may be another one, according to this google books search snippet.

Brunel: the great engineer, Tim Bryan - 1999
'So many irons in the fire and none of them hot,' he wrote in his diary. After listing the various projects which he had begun, but had not completed, he noted one for which he still held out some hope — Bristol Docks.
posted by zamboni at 12:31 PM on August 10, 2012 [2 favorites]


I did notice the google books result you mention, but I didn't think it very seemly for a coin to be inscribed with such a self-critical comment; I wondered whether it had been said again of him elsewhere, perhaps in a more positive light.
posted by Talkie Toaster at 3:13 AM on August 12, 2012

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