Sunday, June 23, 2013

Cookstoves that We Saw on Vacation

Whenever we venture away from home, I'm always on the prowl for wood cookstoves.  Several days ago, Nancy and I returned from visiting her sister Susan and her husband in southeastern Iowa.  They are fantastic hosts, and Susan always thinks of new and interesting places to take us while we are in their corner of the state. This trip was no exception.

The first cookstove that I saw was at a place that is officially called "Shoppes on Wall Street."  Basically, the "shoppes" are four buildings of second-hand items on the north side of the town square in Seymour, Iowa.  Sitting right outside was the wood cookstove that you see in the following pictures.  I spent a great deal of time examining her and dreaming about how much fun it would be to have enough money (or know-how) to restore her.

I could find no identifying mark for a brand name--which was disappointing--but I did get to learn a little about wood cookstoves that are designed this way.  This is the third wood cookstove that I have seen with the oven up high on the right side.  The first one that I ever saw like this is located at the Machine Shed Restaurant in Urbandale, Iowa.  It is used as a storage cabinet in the dining room of the restaurant where the wait staff keep things like jelly packets.

I spotted the second one online at  It just so happened that we visited the proprietor of the business Mr. Semmelroth in Tekonsha, Michigan, on our summer vacation that year, and I got to see that restored stove in person in his storage garage.  It was beautiful and unique and very similar in color to the one you see below.

I think that the design of these stoves is fascinating.  To begin with, I'm amused by the fact that stove designers of the time tried to copy the high side oven design that was so popular with gas, electric, gasoline, and oil ranges of that time.  It would be pretty nice to not have to bend over so far to see into the oven.  My theory about why this design fell out of style is that the high side ovens generally needed to be smaller than ovens which were located beneath the cooktop in order to keep the width of the range within reason.
The oven door open.
 You can see in the picture above that the oven is not very wide since that is a standard size business envelope resting on the oven rack--which by the way is upside down and backward.  You can also see that under the stuff on top of the oven, there are two stove lids.  Clearly, you would have been able to cook on the surface above the oven since it theoretically would have been equivalent in heating capacity to the two stove lids which would be farthest away from the firebox in a regular style wood cookstove.

The firebox (sans ashpan) on the left and the warming oven on the right.
Another thing that was interesting about this stove was the location of the warming oven.  As you can see in the picture above, it was just to the right of the firebox.  Since this is the location of the baking oven on most stoves, I wonder just how warm this space would have gotten.  Note the water pipe just below the grate shakers.  I'm not sure how the stove heated water, but this pipe was connected to some kind of spigot which exited the stove next to the draft on the left side of the stove. 

I didn't get to look at the flue path very well because the stove was full of all manner of material that rodents had drug into it in order to make it into a suitable condo for their kind.  Therefore, I don't know whether the smoke and heat from the fire would have been first routed to the bottom of the oven and then up, around and out, or if everything would have run up the left side of the oven, across the top, down the right side, along the bottom and then out.  
While doing the research for this post, I ran across an entry on eBay with the following picture.  Perhaps the stove in the pictures above is a Belknap and Perfecto from about 1940.  This page from the catalog can be yours by visiting eBay here.
 Maybe someday I will know more about these fascinating ranges.
Anyway, we then saw a very cute and pretty small cream and green cookstove at Forbush Artiques.  Unfortunately, we didn't have our camera with us, so we didn't get any pictures of that cookstove.
On the Monday that we were there, we traveled further east and visited Gingerich Stoves and Plumbing, an Amish stove shop.  Gingerich's sells Margin Stoves, Ashland Stoves, and Kitchen Queen cookstoves.  There I was surprised to see that the Kitchen Queen cookstove actually comes in two sizes.  They had both sizes in their showroom.  While I was looking online to see if I could find information about the two sizes, I also discovered that at they are currently offering a limited edition of the Kitchen Queen in green and cream enamel, also.
As always, please leave a comment if you can add information about the content of my blog posts.  Thanks!