Guide to the “Stoves” Webspace
This area will remain subject to reconstruction for years, at least until I manage to write a book about this topic; and even then there will be stuff left over, and material best presented this way rather than in print. If you come across this material by chance or Google, you are welcome to read it; but if you wish to cite anything, please check with me and get permission first.
(A) Research Jottings
This is where I have parked material that I wrote as I was getting to know my own data – rough notes towards eventual ‘proper’ publications, some of which have now occurred. It will probably be a bit dry and technical, but not without interest to the discerning reader.
Work in Print & in the Pipeline: Articles About Stoves & the Industry
(B) Old Stoves Online: Good Web Links
Good places to start (apart from here, of course), are:
Melita Podesta’s “Material Life: 1810s Family”  gives a nice feel of the pre-stove domestic world.
Old Sturbridge Village’s stove collections – follow sidebar links Collections – Online Database, and search for “Stove” or click to browse “Foodways” under “Cooking.” Browsing has the advantage of starting with pre-stove hollow ware (kettles, saucepans, etc.), and excellent multi-directional views of classic early C19th New England kitchen stoves begin on p. 2.
– Phillips & Clark Stove Co.,
– Henry N. Clark Co. Range Catalogue,
– Henry N. Clark Co. Stove Catalogue,
– White-Warner Co.,
[Update August 2012: The above few links have now been added to with loads more pointers to online versions of stove inventors’ and manufacturers’ pamphlets and catalogues, https://sites.google.com/site/stovehistorystuff/home/stove-catalogues-etc]
Hopewell Furnace National Historic Site
takes you to the one surviving example of the kind of place where early
American stoves were made, before the decisive move in the 1830s from direct
casting in open sand at the rural blast furnace to flask casting in closed
molds in the urban foundry remelting pig iron in a cupola furnace. They
used to have some nice pictures of the 10-plate stoves manufactured there, but
I couldn’t find them again last time I looked. However, as a bonus,
searching the whole National Park Service site produces hundreds of nice images
of stoves in situ. Other good
The Albany Institute of History & Art has an unparalleled collection of early- to mid-C19th stoves manufactured in the surrounding area, but unfortunately it only shows one on its website.
American Memory at the Library of Congress is of course terrific. Probably the most useful collections for stove nuts are the vast image libraries (see below; in all cases, the simple search term “stove” will generate as many hits as you want), of which one of the best is:
· The Emergence of Advertising in America: 1850-1920 which may whet your whistle for a visit to the home site at Duke. If you go there, you will find:
· “Cooking Stoves” (1873), a very texty local dealer’s flier
“Stoves!(an 1874 advertising handbill)
[P.S. For some reason, this looks like rubbish now in Firefox from here through the end of the document, everything underlined, but it’s OK in IE still, except that it seems as if the hyperlinks have all slipped; don’t know about Chrome]
· The New Golden Harvest Wood Stove, 1890.
· The ‘New Process’ Wick Oil Cookstove Cookbook, c. 1910.
· The Michigan Stove Co.’s Cupid at Home in the Kitchen, c. 1910.
· The Avondale Stove & Foundry Co.’s Catalogue for July 1913.
· Favorite Stove Co. Puzzle Cards
· The “New Lee” Cooking Stoves & Ranges flier
· “I Say Snowflake” – a politically-incorrect advertisement for stove polish.
· The J.W. Thompson Blue Book on Advertising, 1906 – how to sell X-Ray Stove Polish
· Gilbert P. Farrar’s The Typography of Advertisements That Pay (1917) for Bussey & McLeod (of Troy)’s Gold Coin stoves and ranges, but I haven’t checked which page yet; and
· S. Roland Hall’s The Advertising Handbook (1921), for the Kalamazoo Stove Co.
Bussey & McLeod and Kalamazoo are both interesting because by the early C20th they engaged in direct marketing to final consumers, bypassing wholesale and retail dealers. This entailed heavy advertising and the establishment of a clear brand-name identity – Kalamazoo’s slogan “Kalamazoo Direct to You” has entered at least Kalamazoo folklore, and allowed mid-sized, small-town firms to compete in national markets.
There’s also a particularly good quality 1920 ad for a Buck’s Sanitary Porcelain Enamel Combination Range at Leo Klein’s “Red Scare (1918-1921” image database, though I have no idea why, or why the ad shows a Chinese cook. However, it’s a terrific example of how the stove industry’s major players competed for a declining market by the early 1920s – with lots of advertising, and a new aesthetic: only the stove’s curly Chippendale (?) legs hark back to the object’s origins; everything else is clean, bright, modern. The stove has even paid its respects to competitive fuels, by incorporating them – this stove had a gas hotplate, an increasingly common feature from the C19th on.
The message of this site, and of the material to be found on eBay™ (see below), is clear: the stove industry played a significant part in the emergence of advertising and marketing in the United States.
· The wonderful Farm Security Administration collections, 1935-1945. Despite the late date, these actually show old (and some new) domestic technologies for cooking and heating, because poor and/or rural Americans were the last to be able to access replacements for solid fuel appliances.
· The Northern Great Plains, 1880-1920 were very cold in winter, and not overendowed with wood for fuel. They offered a great market for stoves, pictures of which (and the stores in which they were sold) fill this site.
· Buckaroos in Paradise: Ranching Culture in Northern Nevada, 1945-1982. If only the guys on Brokeback Mountain had had a good stove with them, they would have been able to keep warm without getting into so much trouble.
· Turn-of-the-Century America: the Detroit Publishing Co. collection, including the insides of some stove factories and stores – understandably, because by that time Detroit had become the stove capital of the U.S.
· History of the American West 1860-1920 is a very rich source for the same reason as the above Great Plains, Nebraska, and Nevada collections – for rural Americans, in particular, the solid-fuel stove was the key domestic technology, and the only one available to them where networked fuel supplies (gas, electric) remained hard to acquire well into the C20th. Finally,
· Finally, the Panoramic Maps Collection provides detailed images of many of the C19th communities where stove manufacturing was carried on. The views generally include a key, so that one can identify stove works and their relation to (e.g.) transport links – rivers, railroads. Albany and Troy, NY and Royersford, PA, have particularly nice images.
Another very fine set of images is presented by the US Patent & Trademark Office, which stores literally tens of thousands of pictures of stove patents including many survivors from before the Great Fire of 1836. Unfortunately, its site is very difficult to search for C19th material unless you know precisely what you are looking for, and enter the number correctly (post-1836 patents for invention only need their number; pre-1836 patents have to start with an X, which is a bit confusing as in paper sources you’ll find them as e.g. 1987X – you enter that as X1987; design patents start with a D and reissued patents start with RE). The best way to do this, if you are lucky enough to have access to a subscribing library, is to use Paratext’s 19th Century Masterfile™, which includes among other wonderful things the Subject Index to US Patents, 1790-1873. The great thing about the Paratext collection is that your search results will include ‘hot links’ to (stable URLs for) the US PTO’s patent document images.
There’s another problem with the PTO website, in that it only provides images in TIFF format, which requires you to have a particular kind of plugin on your browser, which you can get free from Alternatiff. You can get much (but not all: only post-1836; only patents for invention, not design, and no reissues, as far as I can make out) of the same material easier from the European Patent Office – enter US patent numbers as e.g. US31270 and you will get J.C. Treadwell’s 29 Jan. 1861 Grate Patent in a handy PDF format.
Google has transformed access to the PTO database by making it accessible as JPEGs as well as downloadable PDFs and by having the whole thing word-searchable. There are far too many stove (and related) patents for a crude word-search to produce a manageable number of hits, but if you know what you’re looking for, you can probably find it there now. Google provides a link back to the USPTO site, so if you find something interesting and would like a high-quality (300 dpi) TIFF version of it rather than a 96 dpi JPEG or PDF, then you can get this easily.
Howell Harris, March 2009 [updated August 2012]