Wednesday, March 24, 2021

Great Majestic Ranges

I want to share another fun piece of cookstove media from my collection.  The scans below are from an oversized booklet showing the ranges which were being manufactured by the Majestic Manufacturing Company of St. Louis, Missouri, in the late 1910s.  Because of the size of the pages, I had a difficult time getting full-sized scans.

As with so much of the wood cookstove ephemera I have, no publishing date is present anywhere in the booklet.  Thus, we use various clues to arrive at an approximate date, and the first clues appear on the front cover.

The woman's hairstyle in the photograph above screams 1915-1919.  The style of her blouse also is appropriate for that time period.

Our next clue comes from the inside cover, which states that the Great Majestic Range is "The Range with a Reputation" because it won a gold medal, the highest award given at the Panama-Pacific International Exposition in San Francisco, California.  More commonly known as the San Francisco World's Fair, this event opened on February 20, 1915, and did not close until December 4 of that same year.

Another indicator of the date is the fact that none of the stoves in the booklet have any porcelain enamel on them.  As I understand it, the capability of using porcelain enamel on stoves was developed right around the turn of the twentieth century, but it wasn't until the 1920s that it became widely popular.

The Majestic Manufacturing Company, sometimes called the Majestic Stove Company, produced about two million ranges between the 1880s and the 1940s and was one of the ten largest stove producers in the United States prior to World War II.  Many of their ranges are still in use today, and they are very commonly found in stove restoration shops.

The section about malleable iron on the above page is interesting.  It touts the superiority of malleable iron over cast iron, saying in part that the life of a Majestic Range is three or four times as long as an all casti-iron range.  I would be interested to hear what modern-day stove restorers have to say about that.  It is my understanding that the all-cast-iron ranges built in the Northeast are far easier to restore, and from the looks of what is on the internet, a lot of them have lasted pretty well.  I invite those who are much more knowledgeable than I to put their two cents worth in the comments section at the bottom of this post.

The information about the "Pin Extension Malleable Iron Water Front" on the next page explains how the Majestic waterfront provides more hot water than any other design.  The Majestic waterjacket design was certainly unique.  It had a series of circular "pins" that protruded from the top right side, thus vastly increasing the surface area where water could be heated.  Majestic used this design for many years.  I think it probably worked very well.  

I would have to say, however, that in the range where I saw one installed, I think the pins would have been in the way when trying to put larger chunks of wood in the fire.  You can sort of see the front pin sticking out over the piece of wood burning in the firebox in the photograph below.  This range was at Mill Creek Antiques in Paxico, Kansas.

This is an earlier model Great Majestic than what you see in the catalog.
You can tell that because it has the ornate "Tea Pot Shelves" that this
catalog says were unsanitary on the next page.

Following that, is the obligatory information about how wonderful the oven is.  I have yet to run across any stove brochure, flyer, or advertisement that doesn't advertise how wonderfully the oven bakes--and always on so little fuel!

The text that was cut off at the bottom of this page simply reads,
"and see for yourself."

The page below talks about the warming closet below the baking oven.  This was a feature that some New England ranges had, but in Midwestern ranges I believe it was unique to Home Comfort and the cabinet-style Majestics.  They advertise that you can dry wood and shoes down there.

And now for the pictures of the stoves!

The Great Majestic cabinet style "Square Range."

In the text boxes at the top right of each picture, you can see the different sizes that each model range came in.

The pictures on the right side always show the same Great Majestic Range
model except with legs.

I wonder how well the range in the picture below actually sold.  To me, it looks very inconvenient to operate because the only draft is located below that whole reservoir assembly!

A very similar stove to the one above is currently for sale on Ebay.  You can see it here:

Ranges that were equipped with both a water reservoir and a waterfront and boiler were quite common in houses where running water had been installed.  The reservoir was most often used to heat rainwater, which was collected from the roofs of houses in cisterns.  It was valued for washing dishes, clothing, and hair because it was "soft."  In other words, it didn't have all the minerals of well water and therefore cooperated with soap better and provided better cleaning.

The waterfront and range boiler were usually connected to water systems providing well water or city water, which would be under pressure so that it could be piped throughout the home.

Combination ranges were coming into fashion during this time.  The gas side was used during warmer weather when the ability to shut the heat off as soon as cooking was finished kept the kitchen much cooler.

And now for the pie´ces de re´sistance:

Someday...someday I hope to get a chance to cook on a stove like one of these!

The largest range of this style came with three 23" x 23" ovens and weighed
in at a whopping 1740 pounds!

I would love to know how the flues in the range above were designed because the description says "One fire box will heat one, two, or three ovens, as needed, or entire top can be heated without heating the ovens."  How did that work?

According to the information here, Majestic was the largest manufacturer of hotel ranges in the world.  These ranges could be "twinned" with as many of them as were desired, thus making the long, multi-ovened beasts you see in historic photographs of places like the White House kitchen.  Man!  Cooking on one of these looks like so much fun!

So, are any of you dear readers cooking on a Great Majestic?  If so, tell us all what you think of it in the comments below.


  1. This is so interesting! I'll have to study it more thoroughly when I have time.

    My grandparents still have the hot water tank that was installed in their kitchen next to the cookstove when new in 1918. It hasn't actually been in the house since about 1964 I think that's when the wood cookstove when out and the electric water heater was installed.

  2. At our cottage in northern Michigan we have a Great Majestic Stove #9151. Does anybody have an idea of the manufactured date of this stove?

    1. I have one + would love to learn the mfg date as well.