Richard Warren Sears was the founder of the Sears Roebuck Company and served as president from 1886 to 1908.
Richard Warren Sears

Born in Stewartville, Minnesota in 1863, Richard Warren Sears' first job was as a station agent for the railroad in North Redwood, Minnesota.

His station agent's office was kept cozy and warm on bitter cold Minnesota days by a potbelly stove.

This is a picture of the potbelly stove used in Richard W. Sears' railroad office.
At the tender age of 26, in the late 1800's, Richard Sears became the president of the Sears Roebuck company, a company that he nurtured into the most popular and enduring mail order catalog company in the history of the country.

As president, Sears made it his mission to provide the American public with just about every product they could possibly need or want. He turned his focus on stoves, knowing full well, that every home and every business in the growing nation needed a stove to keep warm and cook food. He created catalogs dedicated to selling heating stoves and kitchen ranges, astutely purchased his own stove manufacturing foundry and proudly marketed his stoves.

The ACME Stove Company was one of the premiere manufacturers of potbelly stoves. They sold their stoves in the Sears Roebuck mail order catalogs.

The Sears Roebuck Company sold a variety of potbelly stoves in their catalogs, which they referred to as Cannon Stoves. In addition to the regular Sears Roebuck catalogs that sold everything from clothes to farm equipment, Sears Roebuck distributed catalogs dedicated entirely to heating stoves and kitchen ranges.

Sears catalog cover
Sears catalog cover

Sears also sold their own stoves, the Wehrle stoves, as well as the Acme stoves. Sears Roebuck purchased, what they claimed to be, "the largest stove factory in the world," in Newark, Ohio. The mammoth stove foundry was operated by the Wehrle brothers, William and August. The Wehrle brothers had an exemplary reputation for crafting quality heating stoves and ranges.

 

Sears and Roebuck firmly believed that every home in the country should have a heating stove and kitchen range and they were just the company to accomplish it. Sears, which in the early 1900's was strictly a mail order company, distributed their stove catalogs to every community in the country that had access to the postal system or railroad. They had a distribution of product system unrivaled by any other that could get the stoves to the consumer in a timely fashion.

Potbelly stoves were featured in various stove manufacturer's catalogs as well as other consumer catalogs including Montgomery Ward, Henry Clark's General Supply Catalog, Glenwood, Crawford and by far the most popular, the Sears and Roebuck catalog.

In addition to the Wehrle stoves, the Sears and Roebuck Company highlighted a couple of potbelly stoves in their catalogs, the Acme Cannon Heating Stove and the Acme Giant.

Both potbelly stoves lived up to their name, Acme, which means "the peak or top of something."

Acme was a generic brand name used for a wide variety of products back in the first half of the 1900's. The word was used like a proper name much like "American" and "National" are used today.

 

 

The catalogs provided images of the potbelly stoves and descriptions that highlighted the function, operation and aesthetics of the stove. SAMPLE CATALOG TEXT Potbelly stoves are ruggedly built heating stoves with a solid cast iron body that is closely fitted, braced and bolted making the stove incredibly strong, sturdy, reliable and durable.

The anatomy of the potbelly stove