Monday, August 31, 2020

Round Oak Stove Brochure

Honestly, I don't remember where I got this brochure, and to tell the truth, there is not a lot of information in it, but it is a neat little bit of history.

Mr. Philo D. Beckwith founded the Round Oak Stove Company in 1871 after about four years of building cast iron heating stoves.  Located in Dowagiac, Michigan, the company added cookstoves to its repertoire around 1900, reaching its peak ten years later.

No dates are present anywhere in this brochure, but from the fonts, the illustrations, and the stove styles, my guess is that the brochure dates from about 1910 - 1915.  It is written in the style of an advertising circular with the end of each stove description urging the reader to write the company and request their full catalog.  These little endings are unique examples of creative writing since they are all slightly different ways of saying the same thing.

"May we send you the large, illustrated Range Book?  It's free for the asking."
"May we send you the large, illustrated book?  It's free."
"The subject demands detailed proof.  May we supply it?  Sent free on your request."

Another interesting feature is that the front and back covers are equipped with pictures of animals with a sheet of tracing paper over them, and some aspiring artist in history has tried his hand at tracing them.  The ones in the front of the book are shown in the first scan below.

After a string of heating stove advertisements, the first picture of a range is shown below.  Each advertisement features a bit of heating stove history with an engraving and a blurb at the top.

I think the rectangular motif in the top corners, on the teapot shelves, and on the front of the firebox and reservoir give these stoves a very durable appearance.  They look like they were built to be workhorses, don't they?

The Round Oak Stove Company (also known as the Estate of P. D. Beckwith, Inc.) closed its doors in 1946, but several of their stoves are still in service today. 


  1. Jim,

    Ephemera of this sort are interesting, aren't they? Through your posts, you have made me aware of the changes (fads? improvements that changed appearances?), over time, of cook stoves.

    One of the interesting things from this brochure is under The Round Oak 3-Fuel Iron Chief Range:
    “Save that the walls are constructed of that pure blended grey iron of dread-naught strength, instead of three-ply boiler iron and asbestos…”

    I have wondered if making use of an antique stove might expose the user to asbestos. Or, when restoring such a stove if asbestos was present, how it could be replaced by something safer. I am not sure how common it was to use asbestos in stove construction.

    Once again, an interesting post!

    1. Excellent questions, Brett. I do know that asbestos was occasionally used in stove construction, especially in ranges that had lots of steel parts.

      If you see a vintage advertisement for an "insulated range," the chances are pretty good that the insulation was asbestos, but from what I have seen in diagrams, the asbestos was put between two layers of metal and not accessible.

      I wouldn't think that would present much risk under normal use, but restoration is another question altogether.

      Maybe one of my other readers knows the answer to these questions. Hopefully, they will comment.