The Lost Art of Antique Stoves

Cylinder Stoves were used in countless settings and ways...
homes While the potbelly stove usually receives instant nostalgic recognition, the cylinder stove has also been warming and gracing American homes and establishments, including general stores, western saloons and historic hotels, like the one on the right. Hotel setting SchoolhouseVintage cylinder stove keeps the school house warm. Men's club Classic cylinder stove warms men's clubhouse.

round oak stove

Vintage Cylinder Stove and the Railroad Cylinder stove built into a railroad car Cylinder stoves may not have “gotten around” as frequently as potbelly stoves, at least within the railroad industry, but they did make their mark on the railway system. This cylinder stove was manufactured specifically for a railway car.

Antique cylinder stoves were depicted in American art and featured on the cover of popular magazines of the day.

Included among them are; Good Housekeeping, Saturday Evening Post, Gentleman's Quarterly and Coronet as shown.

Norman Rockwell If Norman Rockwell painted it, then you know it was endearing to the American public, like these vintage cylinder stoves. Norman Rockwell Coronet cover  

civil war stove

The long tables are set for chow in this mess hall, ready to feed American soldiers. Soldiers who are preparing to fight in the war between the States.

The powerful cylinder stoves, featured in the center of the mess hall, tower at eight feet tall. The imposing workhorse heaters are made of four different steel sections stacked on top of one another.

These impressive heating stoves, manufactured in Springfield Massachusetts, no longer exist. They are preserved only in photographs like this one from the Library of Congress.

Smith & Anthony Cylinder Stove

I, Richard Richardson, have been in the stove business for 43 years. As the owner of a stove company that specializes in beautiful stoves I have had the opportunity to have my pick of the bounty, to choose the belle of the ball. However, instead of trading each stove in or out for the next jewel that came through my doors I watched many stoves enter and exit with other delighted owners. “Why?” you might ask. Because, my friend, you don’t forget your first love that easily.

 

I first purchased my home Goshen, Massachusetts in 197_  and installed a stove built by the Smith and Anthony Company of Boston, Massachusetts. The model was a Hub Oak number 18, an upright cylinder stove standing. It stood five and a half feet tall with an 18 inch diameter and was made with a combination of steel and cast-iron.

 

This wonderful stove heated my home for a decade. During that decade the stove and I became truly close friends. Like the best of friends the Hub and Oak never let me down, it was on call day and night. Unfortunately, like many good friends in our lives I became so accustomed to the stoves beauty, efficiency, and convenience that I began to take it for granted. After a decade of the stove heating my home and family I found in another stove that I thought was comparable and thought I was ready for a change.

 

The day I took the stove out of the house she looked at me with a look that said “haven’t I done my job? Haven’t I been faithful to you for this last decade? What about our time together. I have heated your rooms in this house and your family. I am in the family photos too! How can be be parting?” With no explanation I removed this wonderful stove from my home.

 

I set the stove amongst the others in my shop but felt that something was not right. This stove, my friend was not just another stove to sit alongside the stoves that were destined for other homes “Oh why” she kept asking, “I don’t understand, please explain why!” Again, I had no explanation.

 

That day a friend and customer walked into my shop and recognized the vintage stove right away as he had visited my home many times. Without hesitation he asked if that was indeed the stove from my home. I told him it was and he quickly said “name your price.” He readily agreed on the number and within the blink of an eye my faithful companion was to join the home of friend. As my friend loaded the stove into his truck he said “I’ll take care of cleaning it up, I’m excited to have this beauty, and I want to get it home before you have a chance to change your mind!”

     

That sad day was over 30 years ago and my friend, Russ, still heats his home with this great piece . My story doesn't end quite as wonderfully as his. The new stove did not turn out to be everything I wanted it to be a sad disappointment compared to the beauty, efficiency and convenience of the friend that I let go.

 

I have seen many stoves come and go and I have had my choice of many belles of the ball, but that Smith and Anthony Hub Oak held a special place in my heart. 30 years after letting her go I began my search for a new Smith and Anthony Hub Oak in earnest. The moment my eyes set sight on the beauty was a moment I will never forget. My heart pounded so fast, my love affair was set to alight again. I found her in an antique store in Adams, Massachusetts and without a moment of hesitation I purchased my dear stove.

 

I gleefully took my second Smith and Anthony Hub Oak for restoration and installation. With great anticipation I fired her up. To my joy and happiness the stove performed as beautifully as I remembered her contemporary. After 30 years I was reunited with my lovely Smith and Anthony Hub Oak. I knew right away that I would never let the stove go again.

 

Today the stove sits dutifully in my home, doing its job with honor. Our story is not over so stay tuned for more tales of my stove's efficiency, convenience, and overwhelming beauty