By Ciara Bohan
Hi everyone! This week’s object is a late 18th-early 19th century cast iron stove, a tool used to optimize heating during times with no electricity. This later stove structure evolved from the jamb stove. This simply made cast iron stove heated thousands of Europeans homes for hundreds of years, especially in Northern Europe. Once the European immigrants came to the United States, they brought jamb stoves to use as a main source of heating other than the fireplace.
Dating back to the 1600’s, the jamb stove was first seen in Germany and later became popular in the Netherlands, Sweden, and England. Also referred to as 5-plated stoves, wall stoves, and German stoves, these cast iron stoves were specifically used for heating purposes. Throughout most of the 19th century, German houses were designed to be extremely similar. Almost every German house was built with a fireplace for the purpose of cooking food and for warmth. Directly behind the kitchen was a “stove room” which is where the jamb stove was located. The jamb stove had to be placed behind the fireplace so the smoke would rise out of the chimney. It became a key feature of a German household, and made it easy for settlers to identify each other’s ancestry by looking in their homes. Since New Paltz and much of the Hudson Valley was settled by the Dutch, jamb stoves were brought over from the Netherlands and were useful through the cold winters.
The structure and design of the stoves were fairly simple. The stoves were built with five sides and had an open back which attached to the fireplace. The plates would be a square 2 feet by 2 feet, and in total could weight up to 450 pounds. By the mid 1700’s the plates traditionally were elegantly decorated in low relief detail on the outer sides. Popular designs included floral and landscape motifs. These stoves were manufactured up until about 1794. Although jamb stoves changed the domestic lives of many people, they eventually became outdated. New inventions came out such as the “6-plate stove” or the “9-plated stove”, which were more efficient. These appliances included small ovens for cooking. The decorations on the stoves varied as styles in furniture did. Before the Revolution, Rococo, and Chippendale styles were added onto stoves, and after the war, creators of these stoves caught onto Federal motifs. Historic Huguenot Street’s permanent collection holds several examples of later cast iron stoves. This particular stove stands on four feet, and two doors that open in front in order to add hot coals for heating and cooking. The elaborately decorated top swivels off to reveal an opening for venting. The cover has an urn shaped finial on top.
“Visit Our Newest Exhibit: The Stove Plates of Rock Hill Farm.” Conococheague Institute Blog. Mercersburg, PA: The Conococheague Institute, 5 February 2013. Web. 12 August 2016.
Wood, Robert. “The Historian: The Evolution of the Cooke Stove, Part I.” The Berks-Mont News. Pottstown, PA: Berksmont News, 21 March 2013. Web. 12 August 2016.
Harris, Howell. “A Collection of Stoves from American Museums, I: Plate Stoves.” A Stove Less Ordinary. Durham, England: A Stove Less Ordinary, 22 October 2013. Web. 12 August 2016.