Friday, February 8, 2019

Kalamazoo Ranges from 1931

I kind of think of this last Christmas as a "Cookstove Christmas" in that most of the gifts that I received had to do with woodburning cookstoves. One such gift came from my sister.  In our kitchen, we have a framed magazine ad from the September 1931 issue of The Country Gentleman. The ad is telling people that they should order a copy of the Kalamazoo Stove Company's catalog.  It has been hanging there for perhaps three or four years, and I have often looked at it and wished that I could fill out the little mail-in card in the lower right corner and request a copy of the catalog.

A photo of the framed advertisement hanging on
our kitchen wall.  Sorry about the reflection of the
camera flash.

Well, I requested a copy of the catalog all right, but my request went through eBay.  You can't imagine how excited I was to find the very catalog that was shown in this advertisement come up for auction online! 

The catalog is comprised of about sixty pages of attractive color illustrations and really is very impressive for its age.  

In 1931, the Kalamazoo Stove Company of Kalamazoo, Michigan, was manufacturing not only ranges, but also heating stoves, furnaces, duct work, and washing machines.  They were in operation from 1900 to 1952, and some of the stoves that they made are still in daily use today.  You frequently see them for sale on eBay and Craigslist.  Kalamazoo stoves were popular because they were pretty affordable since the company didn't use a middleman to sell their products.  The company's slogan was "A Kalamazoo - Direct to You."

My personal opinion is that their stoves also seem to be of a little lesser quality than other brands.  Thus, when you see them for sale today, you also tend to see them in a little worse shape than their contemporaries.  

Since this blog is intended to be about all things wood cookstove related, I've scanned all the pages which had to do with their ranges and included them in this post.  I hope this can serve as a resource for anyone who has, or is interested in, this line of stoves.  I've never done a post quite like this, so let me know what you think. 

The front cover of the catalog.  You can see
"Sept. 1931" handwritten at the top left in pencil.
The following are all of the pages that had anything to do with cookstoves and are shown here in the order that they appeared in the catalog.  You may be able to read quite a bit of the text if you click on the pictures to view them in a little larger format.

The parts page appears early in the catalog.

The most common advertising point I've seen
for ALL wood cookstove manufacturers was
what wonderful bakers their particular brand
of stove was.  Obviously, this was of great
concern to the consumer, but I wonder which
brand truly was the best baker.

The only small "cookstove" in the catalog is
the one at the lower left of the above page.
The rest of them are all "ranges."

You can tell that by 1931, the Great Depression
was in effect because the prices on these ranges
had fallen from the previous years--in some cases
by quite a bit.

I wish I could have scanned the next two pages in a single large image because they are the "centerfold" of the catalog and introduce The President, which was their flagship range that year.

After the above page, the catalog transitioned into Kalamazoo's heating stoves and then their line of furnaces and ductwork, finishing with their two models of washing machines on the last page.

The catalog's back cover.
Beautiful pictures, aren't they?

I have other vintage cookstove materials like this in my vast collections. Are posts like this valuable to my readers?  I welcome your feedback.


  1. I love looking at old catalogs like this. Thank you for sharing. The small stove for $25.50 was interesting for me. We have one similar to that, but I can't remember the maker. We found it in the basement of my husband's uncle's house after the uncle died. It had been used down there as a garbage burner. We could tell because the firebox was still stuffed with ashes and unburned garbage. I dug all the remains out with a spoon and we took it home. It is in storage right now, oh how I wish I could get it hooked up and working.

    1. Hi, Anne!

      One of the things on my "cookstove bucket list" is to try cooking on a little cookstove like that one. They don't seem to have survived as often as their larger counterparts, and when I find them, their price seems exorbitant. If you get yours up and running, be sure and let me know so that it could be featured in a Readers' Cookstoves post.

  2. I just discovered antique cookstoves and then your site! I'm on the east coast and know nothing about them. Would you be willing to do a post on the basics? Like what do you do with it in the summer? Isn't it too hot to cook with a wood burning cookstove? Do you cook year round with it or do you have a secondary gas stove? Do they get hot on the outside as well? I have little children and am thinking about the occasional graze from little fingers that my oven gets. I'd love to get one for myself to cook on, I'm often told I was born in the wrong time period, but am hesitant with being so new to the idea.

    1. The post is in process, Momma Panda! Thanks for the request! Keep your eyes peeled.

    2. That's great news! Thank you Jim! I look forward to reading it!

  3. Jim,

    VERY interesting post! I wouldn't say the information is valuable to me -- in the sense of learning something I need to know. But, like you, I am interested in all things cook stove.

    Thank you for posting these pages. I would be pleased to see similar material, if you have a mind.

  4. Wow! That is one huge product line of ranges! I had no idea.

  5. Replies
    1. It's interesting to calculate these prices for inflation!

    2. You're right, Tim; it is interesting. Now what would make it even more interesting is to find out what other brands of ranges were going for at the same time. Unfortunately, those prices were determined by individual retailers rather than the supplier as in the case with Kalamazoo. However, I do have Sears catalogs from nearby years and should do a price comparison there.

  6. Great post, absolutely do more like this. TP in SC

  7. Love the post! I’m very happy for you that you found the exact catalog and I thank you for sharing it with us!
    Momma Panda has definitely come to the right place. Over the years I’ve had to learn old skills by reading and figuring it out for myself. So many times I wished someone could show me how and teach me those tips that make things easier and save so much trial and error. This site Is definitely doing that for me and I hope to keep learning from it.

  8. While not valuable for practical use to me, I love seeing these old ads and cook stoves! Not many are still around and even fewer in working condition. I especially like the really old late 19th century cast iron cookers.