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Cast iron decorative stove

You are in luck if you have an old, cast iron parlor stove, long forgotten in your garage or barn. These days of rising prices for electricity and gas are renewing interest in wood or coal heating, as well as cooking. People remodeling old homes can often pay several thousand dollars for an authentic old parlor stove.

Decorative, Victorian stove examples are sought by decorators and collectors. Many don’t even look like the usual concept of a stove and followed the designs of the era. This is especially true with late-19th-century pieces, mounted on cabriole or rococo legs. French stoves were often combined with marble or brass. Those made in Belgium and Scandinavia followed the popular art nouveau designs. While many were made to heat specific areas, others were portable. In the 1920s and 1930s, motifs were in the art deco style.

American-made cast iron stoves for heating followed the popular designs of the period. During the 1850s’ rococo revival, heating stoves followed the trend. From then on, the humble cast iron stove was placed in a prominent spot in homes of the wealthy as well as the average American. The most ornate examples used tiles, bronze and nickel trim in the European style. In the 1890s, they were often topped and towering with sculptures of the American eagle, horses and urns.

The body of all cast iron stoves was often covered with a variety of overall designs.

Historically, the Philadelphia pattern, cast iron cooking stove first appeared in New England in the early part of the 19th century. In form, they were box stoves with an oven over the fire. The boiler hose was in the bottom of the oven. The Franklin stove, made according to Benjamin Franklin’s plans, wasn’t actually made until after his death, around 1800-1810.

CLUES: There are reproductions of every type of stove. Be sure you don’t pay too much for a supposedly antique version. Don’t worry if your old stove needs repairs. Check the internet for stove doctors.

Anne Gilbert is a private consultant doing antiques appraisals for a fee. She can be reached at 1811 Renaissance Commons Blvd., Unit 2310, Boynton Beach, FL 33426.

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