A wood stove is an excellent way to heat a home, especially when it’s chilly, but there’s a clear difference in the quality of antique wood stoves compared to modern ones.
Wood stoves were a regular fixture in American households, but this has changed because companies keep inventing more efficient heating means. Finding a functional antique wood stove can be easy because it is generally found indoors and requires easy maintenance. There are several types of antique stoves, and here is a comprehensive wood stove identification & price guide.
What is an Antique Wood Stove?
A wood stove is a home appliance mostly made of metal (cast iron or steel) or stone, consisting of an enclosed fire chamber that uses wood as fuel. An antique wood stove is one made more than a century ago.
You’ll need paper, kindling, and wood to work these stoves. They have vents that allow air supply into the wood stove to fan the fire when you light it up. The wood burns, releasing moisture, gases, tar, charcoal, and carbon.
An antique wood stove can reach temperatures of up to 1000°F, which heats the building it’s installed in.
Difference Between a Wood Stove and Fireplace
These two terms are usually used interchangeably, but there are apparent differences. A wood stove, for instance, consists of three main components, a ventilation pipe, chimney, and firebox. A fireplace consists of a firebox, chimney, hearth, and flue.
The next difference lies in their construction. A fireplace is made from brick or stone, while a wood stove is made from metal. A fireplace’s firebox is large enough to handle both small and large firewood pieces, but you’re limited when it comes to the size range a wood stove’s firebox can accommodate. Wood stoves are also more energy efficient because they require less firewood yet can still warm up the whole house.
The History of Antique Wood Stoves
Before the 1600s, people were keener on survival, and an open fire warmed them up and their food despite the discomfort brought by smoke. The evolution of the stove began in the 1600s when people became keen on fuel efficiency and evenly heated homes.
18th Century Wood Stoves
Wood stoves were first used in Europe. They were first introduced in 1728 to replace open fires and were called Jamb Stoves or Five Plates at this time.
It wasn’t until the 1740s that Benjamin Franklin decided to improve on its original design. Benjamin came up with the Franklin Stove, a 3-sided iron box that not only used less fuel but also significantly reduced the time it would take to warm up a house.
Despite its efficiency, the Franklin Stove gained little popularity, but other wood stove designers used this as inspiration for modern designs. Designs such as the six-plate and 10-plate cook stove were also introduced.
19th Century Wood Stoves
The 19th Century saw a massive improvement in wood stove designs with additional features such as controllable airflow and the baffle system.
These new features helped improve the popularity of these appliances because their efficiency rose to about 30%. Wood stoves during this era were larger in size and surface area, and the fancier versions consisted of ceramic surfaces. The main problem during this era was the heavy, gigantic cast iron wood stove make that was quite unattractive.
Modern Wood Stoves
The modern wood stove has continuously improved mainly because of stringent EPA requirements. EPA-certified stoves can now emit less than 2 grams per hour and enable complete wood combustion.
Identifying an Antique Wood Stove
Finding an old wood stove is like discovering a piece of history but not every old thing is antique. First, determine the type of wood stove you have. Some of the most common antique wood stoves include:
The Franklin Stove
As discussed above, the franklin stove was Benjamin Franklin’s creation and the inspiration behind consequent wood stove designs. Despite being incredibly designed, the stove was hazardous because it rapidly burned wood and was too open at the front, making it easier to create a fire.
The Charter Oak Antique Wood Stove with Eisenglass
This stove was made during the 18th century by The Charter Oak Stove Company. The Eisenglass was made using “mica” sheets and had a fire viewing window to help you monitor the flames.
Mica sheets are transparent, light, and flexible. Despite being aesthetically pleasing, these stoves aren’t durable. The “mica” material flakes and changes to a bluish-silver or yellow color with time.
Ceramic Wood Stove
These were well-liked during the 1800s because ceramic tiles retain heat long after the fire goes out, keeping the house warm for longer.
These can be identified by the rounded pot-like design with a pipe siphon at the top. Ancient pot bellies were made from cast iron, although some versions were made using steel.
The U.S. Army Cannon heater is an example of a potbelly stove and is still in use in the hills of the St. Francois Mountains. This stove is portable because it’s smaller than most wood stoves and is made in detachable sections. The ornate nickel designs can also identify pot belly stoves on their outer surfaces.
Soapstone Wood Stove
Unlike most metallic stoves, this wood stove was made using soapstone which is also a good conductor of heat.
Wood Cook Stove
These came with burners, an oven, and a stove box. The wood cook stove was multipurpose; you could cook, bake and keep the house warm.
Cast-iron Wood Burning Stove
This stove was made from cast iron and had a stove door and a pipe that protruded from the back of the stove.
This is a compact wood stove version used during the Victorian era. It was more of a luxury design and could only heat a room at a time.
These stoves were especially popular between the 1820s and 1860s. The stove gets its name from the range portion located just above the stove’s legs that looks like a step. The step top stove was made by companies such as the Coldwater Oil Stove Company, J. Woodruff and Sons, and the Chattanooga Stove company.
Antique Wood Stove Identification using their Brand Name
Every good manufacturer includes their names in their creations. These are some of the places you can check for brand names:
- The stove door’s metal plate
- The sides and back of the wood stove, especially towards the bottom
- The metal plate at the back of the stove usually contains the brand name and model number
Common brand names may include:
- Charter Oak Stove Company
- Home Comfort
- Walker and Pratt
- Queen Atlantic
Antique Wood Stove Identification Based on Heat Source Design
Antique stoves have different designs based on the heat source they require. To buy an antique wood stove, you need to identify the standard features that make them suitable for wood burning.
Wood isn’t a sustainable heat source, and towards the end of the 1800s, manufacturers started looking at better fuel options.
When shopping for old stoves, you need to recognize the difference between coal, wood, and gas-burning stoves. A wood-burning stove, for example, comes with a controllable vent that supplies air to fan the fire. The difference between the coal and wood stoves lies in their location; coal stoves have a vent that fans air from beneath the fire, while woodstove vents fan air from above.
Coal produces ash when burnt; therefore, coal stoves come with a metal grate and ash pan below the firebox to prevent the metal grate from blocking the air supply to the fire. Gas stoves are the easiest to identify since they have a gas line attached.
Antique Wood Stove Identification Using the Patent Number
Aside from the brand name and model number, wood stoves also have an additional patent number. These numbers are prevalent in the case of iron stoves. Patent numbers come in a range of letters and numbers starting with “PAT.”
Patent numbers are registered under the United States Patent Office, so search through the relevant patent database. Patent databases are pretty detailed and will contain information such as the year the patent was issued, which can help you determine whether your stove is an antique or not.
Visit Antique Wood Stove Dealers or Restoration Companies
Antique dealers have an eye for these products, so you can carry the stove to one or take a clear picture for identification. These dealers are seasoned, have worked with several types of wood stoves, and can easily identify what make and model it is. Restoration companies have multiple antique wood stove pictures that you can use to compare with what you have.
Check the Color and Shape of the Stove
Some colors signified different eras. Olive green stoves were quite popular during the 1970s. We have already covered charter oak stoves and how the mica sheets peel and change color with time, the color changes can be an identifier.
Stoves made during the early 20th century had unique curved edges and ornate marks in white, light green, blue and red. These stoves also rested on as opposed to having a uniform barrel body straight to the ground.
Is My Antique Wood Stove Valuable?
Antique stoves can be pretty valuable, depending on their current condition. Looking at its features, you can tell whether an antique was well cared for. Factors such as rust, cracks, and dents will affect how you price an antique wood stove.
These items are rare regardless of their condition, making them collector’s items. Antique wood stoves are attractive because they are aesthetically pleasing and can elevate a room’s historical aesthetic, especially in places such as old tourist spots and old restaurants.
Wood stoves age like any other manmade items, some collectors painstakingly find original wood stove parts to replace any cracked or rusted parts of a wood stove. The value of restored antiques depends on how good the restoration project went, and if you find original replacement pieces, the price goes higher.
The price of antique stoves also depends on the local market. Shipping these appliances over long distances requires considering their size, weight, and fragility.
How to Determine the Value of an Antique Wood Stove
The most challenging step in this process is identifying the wood stove brand name, patent, and model number. Once you have all the necessary information, finding an antique stove’s value becomes easy.
Assessing an antique wood stove’s value can be confusing, especially if you do not know how they work. Online resources come in handy to help you in appraising your wood stove. Some of these websites include:
This site comprises appraisers with over 24 years of experience in price valuations. They can help estimate the price of your wood stove “as is” or help you determine its model and age.
Antiquestoves.com charges between $25 and $30 depending on how fast you want the appraisal done. The lesser value takes around a month, and they send appraisal results to your mail. Online proposals take two to three days and will only require you to submit photos of your stove to get a valuation.
For instance, the site has valued an 1876 Forest King Moore Robinson & Co. parlor stove with all original parts at $3250.
Value My Stuff
This is yet another online appraisal website that can evaluate antique items within 48 hours. The company consists of a team of 60 appraisers who have gained experience from renowned auction houses.
To allow for accurate valuation, you must submit clear pictures showing all sides of your wood stove and a detailed description of the antique, including flaws. You will have to part with $28 for the prompt appraisal.
For Mr.Expert, you can either go for free or paid appraisals. The price difference depends on the kind of information you need. For the paid version, you will get an in-depth analysis of your wood stove and the exact price determined by how detailed you have described your antique wood stove and how helpful the photos you’ve shared are.
You can also find approximate price points on online marketplaces such as eBay and Amazon. This antique parlor stove went for $200 on eBay, while a similar refurbished stove from F&L Kahn Bros sold for $995. A pot belly wood stove in Fresno, California, was sold at $153, while another was sold at $46 in Knightstown, Indiana, on eBay.
Some wood stoves were in production for years, meaning they’re flooded on the market. Your antique wood stove’s price will depend on how rare it is, and a 10-plate stove in good condition could go for prices as high as $3000.
The good thing is that you don’t need to carry your entire wood stove to an antique store to get an estimated price range; good pictures will do. You can also visit the stores and gauge the price of a similar wood stove and use it as an estimate depending on the condition of the antique stoves they’re selling and what you have.
You can visit your local library and look into literature that covers old stoves, such as Antique woodstoves: Artistry in Iron by Jane Curtis and Will Curtis.
Where can I Buy or Sell an Antique Stove?
Several trusted websites cater to antique enthusiasts that can help you expand your antique wood stove collection or sell your antique stove for a reasonable price. Some of these sites include:
Etsy is an e-commerce company that connects sellers and their customers. The company has a website with different sections, including its antique section, where you can find collector’s items from all over the globe.
Finding antique wood stoves on Etsy is easy because of the visitor traffic the site experiences daily. For instance, this Antique 1885 Red Jacket #8 cast iron pot belly parlor stove is listed at $1885 on Etsy. A Peninsular Stove Company – Miniature potbelly stove goes for $499.99 on the same site.
Evansville Antique Stove Company
Evansville mainly specializes in selling, restoring, and repairing antique iron stoves. The company can even make replacement parts for your antique stove to help with restoration projects.
eBay is one of the most successful e-commerce sites around. Through its website, you can find products under antiques, vintage items, and collector’s items all in one place.
eBay consists of five international websites that cater to different world regions. You will find more than 2oo0 listings on eBay. If you’re looking to sell an antique wood stove, create a seller account on eBay and create a listing.
This rare 1908 C. Emrich Florence hot blast airtight wood/coal burning parlor stove was auctioned, and the winning bid stood at $4000. Another antique, a pot belly wood burning cast iron stove N8 by Martin Stove, sold at $250 and wasn’t even in good condition.
Good Time Stove Co.
This family business also handles the restoration and repair of antique stoves. The company also sells restored items, buys antique stoves, and can help appraise your stove. This restored Ben Franklin circulator manufactured between 1860 and 1880 is listed at $4250. The site also has a listed fully restored potbelly stove at $4850.
Antiques Navigator is also an online marketplace consisting of antique listings. The site also contains a comprehensive list of sold antique wood stoves and their final prices that you can use to compare prices.
Live Online Auctions
These aren’t similar to auctions on sites such as eBay, and the difference is that these auctions happen in real-time, and it’s quite a thrilling experience. The online auction business is growing, and auction houses such as LiveAuctioneers and Invaluable run live online auctions.
Live Auction Houses
The best thing about live auction houses is that you can see what you’re bidding for, gauge its condition, and happily walk away with your purchase.
Tips When Buying an Antique Wood Stove
Learn to recognize identifying features
Before buying a wood stove, research what wood stoves are and the key identifying features of woodstoves depending on the era. An identifying feature could be a patent number, brand name, or something unique in an antique stove, such as the viewing window on the Charter Oak stove.
This will help you recognize replicas, and mismatched parts, especially if the stove has undergone restoration. Identifying features will also prevent you from overpaying for a standard antique wood stove.
Gauge the antique stove’s functionality
This depends on whether you need a functional one or one to use as decoration. Antiques can be classified as good, fair, or poor. The condition will also determine the price. For instance, you will pay more if you’re lucky to get a fully functional antique stove for your old home or historic hotel.
An antique stove in fair condition may be functional but may need a facelift like replacement of minor parts and covering bumps and scrapes. But if the stove is a right off, they aren’t worth it unless you’re a restoration company.
An antique wood stove can give your house character and style regardless of whether you use it as a decorative piece or for heating a building. Some of these pieces can even be used for cooking and baking. You can find antique stoves in exciting places to elevate a historical theme.
We are so used to using instance gas and electric cooking and heating appliances these days, but there could be power outages, or you could want to create an indoor camping experience.
Aside from their function, buying, restoring, and selling these antiques is quite a lucrative business, and knowing how to value an antique stove can save you a lot of money.
We hope that this antique wood stove identification and price guide has provided you with all the information you need to help you determine the value of your antique wood stove.