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Friday, August 28, 2015

Vermont Stove Inventors, Inventions, and their Makers, 1817-1850 {TBA}

This map shows (a) with a black diamond, the locations of Vermont's blast furnaces and foundries making stoves in the 1830s (a list that I may be able to extend -- at the moment, it's just an 1831 list plus the Tyson Furnace, blown in in 1837), and (b) with a red square, the places where Vermont's 37 stove patents 1817-1850 were taken out.

What it depicts is very different from the New Hampshire map, and much more like the normal US pattern in terms of both the location of invention and the relationship between invention and the development of manufacturing and commercial activity.  Vermont stove patents were usually taken out by people associated with the state's stove-making iron furnaces and foundries, or by people connected with the stove trade and living in the state's major towns and commercial centers, notably along the Connecticut River valley.  In the 1830s, in particular, we also see the emergence of repeat or "professional" inventors, of whom the most important was Henry Stanley of Poultney,  connected with what were for the time major businesses; and most of the stove patents that survive seem to have translated into commercial products that were advertised and sold.  Also evidence of some inventors' professionalism, and of their patents' value, is the way they worked the patent system, using disclaimers, extensions, and reissues to protect and maximize the value of their work.  Vermont stove inventors and makers had a much larger market to operate in because, thanks to the Champlain Canal, by the end of the 1820s they were able to export to the west via the Erie Canal and the Great Lakes, or down the Hudson River to the ocean and the cities of the Atlantic seaboard and their hinterlands, as well as up into Canada.  It was an entirely different environment for invention and enterprise than Woolson, Skinner, and their New Hampshire artisan contemporaries faced. 


Guernsey, Chauncey. Poultney. Fire-place & stove. X1961. 1813. Burnt.     
Guernsey was a Poultney woollen manufacturer.

Salisbury, William. Derby. Fire-place. X2829. 1817. Burnt.            

Rice, John. Hartland. Stove, fire-place, & oven. X2877. 1817. Burnt.            

Keyes, Israel. Putney. Stove, Cooking. X3176. 1820. Burnt.            

Hitchcock, Lemuel. Weathersfield. Stove & fire-place. X3516. 1822. Burnt.     Kept a store.     

Jones, Caleb. Burlington. Stove-pipes, Mode of making. X3682. 1823. Burnt.

A silversmith and watch-maker.

Conant, John. Brandon. Stove, Cooking. X3788. 1823. Burnt.

Conant was the first Vermont stove inventor who left much of a trace in the historical record.  Here's what I wrote about him in Chapter 2 of my book manuscript:

John Conant ... both served and stimulated the increasing demand for stoves in upcountry New England. More than half a century after their invention, Conant's stoves were remembered by Vermont's pioneer historian, Abby M. Hemenway (b. 1828), who grew up in a farm family forty miles south of Brandon, as
the wonder of the farmer's kitchen, [which] sold in all the villages around and abroad, till the more convenient 'rotary' came in for competition [in the mid- to late 1830s]. It was the first stove we ever saw -- our father bought one and brought [it] home as a surprise; -- and never was anything brought into the house that created such an interest, it was the inauguration of a new era in the culinary kingdom -- the pleasant old fire-place with the swinging crane of well filled pots and kettles, hearth-spiders with legs and bake-kettles and tin-bakers to stand before the blazing logs and bake custard pies in – all went down at once and disappeared before that first stove, without so much as a passing struggle.1

Conant, b. 1773 in Ashburnham, northern Massachusetts, was a carpenter and joiner by training, who came to the backwoods settlement of Brandon, 120 miles away to the north-west, in 1796. Conant's business was the exploitation of the region's abundant natural resources – he acquired all of the village's water-power rights, built grist mills, and produced whisky and, from the surrounding forests, large quantities of potash for sale. In 1810 rich deposits of bog iron were discovered in the neighborhood, which his father-in-law attempted unsuccessfully to smelt. Conant saved his enterprise from failure, going into partnership with him and building a blast furnace in 1820, “an undertaking which at that time was deemed one of great hazard; but he persevered with characteristic energy and judgment, and with complete success.”2

Key to this triumph was that he provided the furnace with a value-adding product, and rapidly succeeded with the same business model that was failing for Hoxie at the same time [making stoves at a country blast furnace for local sale -- HJH]. They made about 100 tons of castings in their first year, enough for about 6-800 stoves, a level of output that started out more than ten times higher than Hoxie's best and grew steadily. Conant's cook-stove was modeled on William James's [x-reference needed], but improved to suit the needs of the farm families who would be its buyers. It had a third large boiling hole (for griddles and wash-boilers) behind the main body of the stove which could have its own small independent fire, providing useful flexibility – the household could continue to rely on it in summer without having to overheat the kitchen or move the stove outside. He also rearranged the boiling holes either side of the oven so that they did not reduce its size so much, and were nearer the fire. 

Quality of manufacture was as essential to Conant's success as simplicity and appropriateness of design. An expert observer, Professor Frederick Hall of nearby Middlebury College, was impressed: he had “seldom seen castings, which were so perfect.” “[P]atent stoves” constituted “the chief business of the establishment” from its inception, and were “in so much demand, that they are disposed of as fast as they can be manufactured.”3

Figure 2.12A: “Stove Trade Notes: The Conant Stove,” The Metal Worker 2 December 1893, p. 45 – engraved from a photograph of a stove then still surviving in Vermont. Note the ash-pit below the front of the firebox and extending under the hearth, covered with a sliding section of the hearth plate. This design feature was patented by William James in 1824 (3854X), which is no proof that he originated it; but everybody copied it anyway. It enabled the fire to be cleaned out more easily, or coals to be dragged forward to allow the grilling of meat.

[HJH Sept. 2015: a question -- sources are clear that Conant & Broughton (his father-in-law) started manufacturing stoves in 1819, even before the furnace was built.  However, there was only one Conant patent, 1823, but Hall (1821) refers to "patent stoves" from the outset.  So what were they making?  Jameses under license?  William Keep's research was the source of the above illustration, which he assumed to be of the 1823 patent.]

Stoves were already coming into use in upstate Vermont: ten-plates were made in smaller quantities at other local furnaces in Bennington and Pittsford, and proper cook-stoves (i.e. with boiling holes), probably James's, were manufactured from Pennsylvania castings in Troy, over a hundred miles to the south, and teamed into the backcountry. But Conant's was better suited for its intended customers than a plain ten-plate, and probably cheaper than Troy stoves too, because of the efficiency of integrated production at one site and the fact that he was closer to his market. In 1823 he improved his stove by lowering its main cooking surface, and raising the oven and a secondary cooking surface above and behind it, in order to make it easier for housewives to adapt to it from open-hearth cooking by reducing the amount of heavy lifting of their old iron pots that they would have to do. Cooking could now be done on the low front hearth, either cooking surface, or in the oven, heated directly from the fire chamber and surrounded by direct-draft flues on the other three sides (Figure #2.13). His “step stove” design became another region-wide generic type, cheap, simple, and popular with rural consumers in areas with plenty of firewood. Thanks in large part to it, his business grew large enough to accommodate two of his sons, Chauncey Washington (b. 1799), who managed the furnace, and John Adams (b. 1800; Figure #2.12), who ran the office, in a family partnership that survived from 1822 through the 1840s, and had already brought them “riches that princes might envy” by 1829. They raised their output to 250 tons of castings per year by 1831 and more than 800 by 1845.4

The Conants' business, like Hoxie's, was originally mostly local, because of the difficulty and cost of overland transportation: it was a thirteen-day round-trip by road to Boston, about 190 miles away. But this began to change after the opening of the Champlain Canal in 1823. Brandon was only about twenty miles east of the lake, and it now became possible for the Conants to reach out to customers across the region with an affordable wagon haul to Whitehall, then a canal boat to Troy, a river boat to New York, and a coastal packet to Boston or Portland, Maine, followed by another wagon haul or river-boat trip inland.5

1 Hemenway from Anderson G. Dana, "Brandon," in Abby M. Hemenway, ed., The Vermont Historical Gazetteer: A Magazine Embracing a History of Each Town (Claremont, NH: Claremont Mfg. Co., 1877), Vol. 3, pp. 423-61 at p. 435; Edward T. James et al., eds., Notable American Women (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1974), p. 178.

2 Henry P. Smith and William S. Rann, eds., History of Rutland County Vermont: with Illustrations and Biographical Sketches of Some of Its Prominent Men & Pioneers (Syracuse: D. Mason & Co., 1886), pp. 169, 199-200, 390, 478, 488-9, 574; Augusta W. Kellogg, "The Town of Brandon, Vermont," The New England Magazine 1 Nov. 1897, pp. 293-309 at pp. 295-6; Edward Hitchcock et al., Report on the Geology of Vermont: Descriptive, Theoretical, Economic, and Scenographical (Proctorsville, VT: Albert D. Hager, 1861), Vol. 2, p. 823 [quote].

3 Hall, “Notice of Iron Mines and Manufactures in Vermont, and of Some Localities of Earthy Minerals [April 12, 1821]," American Journal of Science, and Arts 4:1 (1822): 23-5, quotations pp. 24-5; Keep, “History of Heating Apparatus,” pp. 82-3.

4 Frederick Hall, “Notice of Ores of Iron and Manganese, and of Yellow Ochre, in Vermont [1 Dec. 1820]," American Journal of Science, and Arts 3:1 (1821): 57-8; John A. Conant's recollections from Dana, "Brandon," in Hemenway, ed., The Vermont Historical Gazetteer, Vol. 3, pp. 423-61 at p. 435; Keep, “History of Heating Apparatus,” p. 182; Frederick O. Conant, A History and Genealogy of the Conant Family in England and America, Thirteen Generations, 1520-1887 (Portland, ME: Privately Printed, 1887), pp. 297-301; William Dunlap, History of the Rise and Progress of the Arts of Design in the United States (New York: George P. Scott & C., 1834), Vol. 1, p. 304 [quote]; The American Advertising Directory, for Manufacturers and Dealers in American Goods: for the Year 1831 (New York: Jocelyn, Darling & Co., 1831), p. 25; Chauncey W. Conant, “Letter” (7 Oct. 1845) in Charles B. Adams, First Annual Report on the Geology of the State of Vermont (Burlington: Chauncey Goodrich, 1845), pp. 84-5.

5 Smith and Rann, eds., History of Rutland County, p. 490. The Brandon Iron Company records at the William L. Clements Library, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, contain letters from John A. Conant to Henry W. Miller, a stove dealer in Worcester, MA, 1835-38, and offer numerous insights into stove marketing in the 1830s. For example, if Miller required an overland delivery after the Champlain canal had closed with ice, he had to pay an additional $10 a ton (about 16 percent of the wholesale price) – Conant to Miller, 21 Mar. 1836.

[In the biography of Nelson Thayer, p. 432, it was noted that in about 1824 he "purchased the first cooking stove ever taken to (Wardsboro, a small settlement in the hills of south-east Vermont), and people came for miles to see it.  His wife had been accustomed (probably in Rupert, near the New York boundary) to using a stove before her marriage and found it a severe test on her patience to cook at a fireplace."

Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove, Cooking. X7333. 1832. 126/1R   

Stanley was the most important stove inventor and maker to emerge in Vermont, his business in the 1830s surpassing even the Conants'.  His stoves sold nationwide and influenced many other makers to imitate or attempt to improve on them.

Here's the text from my Chapter 5:

An even more successful example of a similar strategy [integration of manufacture at a foundry with direct sale to consumers] did not enjoy the protection of distance from the main sources of stove supply, but depended instead on the quality of its innovative products, as well as on the dramatic improvements to internal transportation that took place in the 1820s. These enabled a Vermont machine-builder, Henry Stanley (b. 1795), to reach out and invade the urban markets of the seaboard in head-to-head competition with established manufacturer-wholesalers themselves.

Stanley, originally a maker of wool-carding and cloth-dressing equipment in the small, stagnant town of Poultney (about twenty-five miles south of Conant in Brandon), turned disaster into opportunity in 1829 when a fire destroyed his machine-building facilities and left him with nothing but the foundry he had recently erected, reputedly the first in the state to use anthracite as its fuel. So he started making stoves, then just “coming into general use,” instead. At first he manufactured from other designers' patterns, and also produced prize-winning “handsome ... very light and smooth” cast-iron cooking utensils which he sold through dealers on New York's Water Street. Stanley relied on the Champlain Canal, completed in 1827 and at its nearest just ten miles west of Poultney at Whitehall, New York, to connect him with this market.1

By 1832 he had invented his own cooking stove, with a literally revolutionary layout. It was quite unlike most others, which had hardly any moving parts. But Stanley was a machinist, and his rotary stove featured a crank-operated turntable top, which enabled the cook to control cooking temperature by moving the pots closer to or further away from the hottest parts of the fire, and, like Conant's step-stove design a decade earlier, minimized heavy lifting (Figure 5.#). It was also craftily designed to permit the easy replacement of the parts subject to the most wear, something important to win the confidence of consumers buying an expensive new item of essential household equipment and living tens or hundreds of miles away from the maker. [See this 1834 advertisement in a Hudson Valley newspaper, for the stove's many claimed advantages.] 2

Figure 5.#: Henry Stanley's rotary-top cooking stoves, Patents 7333X (1832) and 4238 (1845). The first picture (with turntable removed) shows its original derivation from low-topped flat step stoves like Conant's (Figure 2.#); the second is its mature version, with a large oven and downdraft flues G like other stoves of the 1840s. (U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.)  In Stanley's original model, no oven is shown on the design, but one could be sited at N in the usual position behind the fire, or a reflector oven (tin kitchen) could be placed on the hearth plate.

Stanley acquired a blast furnace of his own, the Mount Hope, about eight miles outside Fort Ann, New York, on the Champlain Canal south of Whitehall, thereby securing his pig iron supply. He went on to establish sales outlets in Baltimore, Philadelphia, New York, and Troy, run by other family members, and to become one of the most distinctive and also successful stove makers in the emerging national market of the 1830s. 

A part of Stanley's competitive advantage depended on the control he enjoyed over all stages of manufacturing. His stoves' Albany distributor claimed in 1838 that “the quality of the castings and general workmanship of them, is unequalled by any other in this country.”  The best that other firms not doing their own casting could promise at the time was that they gave careful directions to the furnace or foundry making their stoves, and inspected the work in progress. Stanley's production system was a variation on the usual decentralized pattern, but with one crucial difference: furnace, foundry, and factory were all owned and managed by the same few men, and the transactions among them were all internal to the firm and coordinated by it. Castings were packed flat in boxes and barrels at the foundry, teamed to Whitehall, floated to the Hudson on their own dedicated canal boat, the “Rotary,” and shipped downriver from Troy for his brothers to assemble, finish, and sell at their waterfront wholesale and retail depots.3

Sales of Stanley's stoves spread far beyond the East Coast territories that he supplied from his own foundry, because he also licensed his design (at $5 per stove) to be made and sold in markets that he could not easily reach. For example, 3,000 were produced in Cincinnati alone between 1832 and 1839, where its local maker claimed that “in the parts of the country where it had been introduced, it had superseded all others.” [In 1837, his dealer in Cleveland claimed that "Those who have used them say that they are superior to any others."] By the early 1840s the Stanleys were even making direct sales in the Midwest themselves: stove merchants in south-east Michigan were their second-largest group of customers, after New York's, and they were also doing a significant trade in Wisconsin and Illinois.4

But they lost control of their overextended business at the pit of the post-Panic depression in 1842. Henry Stanley was “enterprising” and “intensely active,” though let down by a “want of caution” -- or simply of luck. His firm came spectacularly unstuck, with liabilities of $82,274 ($55.1 million at 2014 values, using the nominal GDP per capita method of comparison), the largest business failure in the New York stove trade. This was not the end of his career as a stove inventor, but from now on he depended on other companies to licence his patents and make his products. Ironically, by the time that Stanley's thirteen-year experiment in vertical integration of all stages of manufacture and distribution of stoves bit the dust, the pattern of business organization that he had helped pioneer was becoming the industry's new norm.5

1 Joseph Joslin, Barnes Frisbie, and Frederick Ruggles, A History of the Town of Poultney, Vermont: From Its Settlement to the Year 1875 (Poultney: Journal Printing Office, 1875), pp. 53 [population], 95-97 [quote], 298; The The American Advertising Directory [1831], p. 117, for his hollowware.

2 Stanley's key patents were “Cooking Stove,” 7333X (1832), “Revolving Cooking Stove,” 9282X (1835), and [same title], 91 (1836). Stanley & Co., Remarks and Directions for using Stanley's Patented Rotary Cooking Stove: For Sale at No. 50 S. Calvert-street Baltimore, by Stanley & Co., and at No. 6 Chesnut-street, Philadelphia, by John P.E. Stanley & Co. (Baltimore: Sands & Neilson, 1834), for a full description in probably the oldest surviving stove instruction-manual, essential because Stanley's stove was so different in operation from any other. [1834 Cincinnati; 1835 New York]

3 William W. Mather, Geology of New-York (Albany, NY: Carroll & Cook, 1843), Part 1, pp. 575-6; D. Kittle advertisement, Albany Evening Journal 1 Feb. 1838, p. 1 [quote], cf. J. & A. Fellows ad., same page; Stanley & Co.'s operations reconstructed from their 1843 Bankruptcy, Box 155, File 2099. The file is unusually rich, including small debts for unpaid wages to laborers, farmers, teamsters, and others in the villages along the Vermont-New York border area where they were based, as well as to their trade creditors in Troy, New York, and Baltimore. It also contains an inventory of the Water Street depot in New York, which contained both a steam-powered stove-finishing and assembly shop and the varied assortment of completed stoves, spare parts, and kitchen accessories vital for its wholesale and retail business. The assessed value of the stock and equipment was almost $8,000.

4 Stanley v. Whipple (1839), reported in James B. Robb, compiler, A Collection of Patent Cases Decided in the Circuit and Supreme Courts of the United States (Boston: Little, Brown & Co., 1854), Vol. 2, pp. 1-10, provides details of his licensing arrangements and Cincinnati sales [quotation at p. 5]; Stanley Bankruptcy, Schedule A, 25 Feb. 1843, for the geographical distribution of the firm's $32,000 worth of outstanding trade accounts.

5 Stanley Bankruptcy, Schedule A, 25 Feb. 1843, for liabilities; Joslin et al., History of the Town of Poultney, p. 353 [quote]. Stanley had moved to Albany by the time of his 1845 heating-stove patent 3876 (“Stanley's Coal Burner”), and assigned it to Charles Eddy, a Troy stove maker, whose firm valued it enough to reissue it in 1860 in order to maintain their exclusive rights (Reissues 944, 958, and 1078). Stanley himself went into a new business in Troy that also depended on high-quality charcoal-iron castings, the manufacture of railroad car wheels – Freedley, Leading Pursuits, p. 323.

Further information about Stanley and his stove, September 2015:


Town, Elisha. Montpelier. Stove, Cooking. 7871X. 1833. 126/2

"Elisha Town's Improved Crane Stove."  The drawings are of the revised (1836) version of his patent including a removable furnace (for charcoal or, more probably, anthracite) fitting underneath the oven of his baking stove.  This was designed, though the patent was silent about its purpose, to enable the oven and large rear boiler hole to be used in summer, with less fuel consumption and a correspondingly reduced amount of heat in the kitchen.  The distinctive features of the original and improved versions of the Crane Stove were the swinging covers, or "cranes," for the front two boiler holes.  They served a similar purpose to the turntable top on Stanley's stove, allowing the cook to regulate the heat applied to a vessel by moving it away from the fire.  Apart from these, Town's was a pretty standard step-stove, apart perhaps from the double plates, with an air gap between them, at the front of the oven.  The intention of these was to prevent a hot spot within the oven, and (probably) reduce the problem of burning out of the oven plate immediately behind the fire, a weak spot in any stove design.  Other step-stove designers in the 1830s attempted to achieve the same object with slightly different means of reinforcing and/or insulating the vulnerable plate.  

Town's was evidently a commercial product rather than a design destined to get no further than the Patent Office.  Jonathan Wainwright, a local manufacturer and dealer, explained and highlighted its advantages in an advertisement.  It was, he claimed, a stove "that will make its way into almost every family. This stove takes in a large round boiler back, and two smaller in front, that can be swung off the fire: a convenience not found in other stoves -- also, has a Furnace attached underneath that can be used without heating the whole stove, and will be found very convenient for summer use -- has a large oven, and taken altogether will be found a perfect stove."  Wainwright operated his own furnace, which probably answers the question about how the impecunious Town managed to get his stoves made and sold.  [Jonathan Wainwright ad., Burlington Free Press 30 Nov. 1838, p. 3 -- this ad ran until 1 Mar. 1839, i.e. throughout one stove sales season, but it is the only such advertisement for Town's stoves in the Vermont newspapers in the Library of Congress's collection, which suggests that Wainwright may have had exclusive rights to the stove but did not find it went as well as he had hoped.]

Town, Elisha. Montpelier. Cook Stove /..., Rotary. X8206. 1834. 126/1R

However successful or otherwise Town's Crane Stove may have been, as a design and/or as a commercial product, he determined in the following year to compete with Henry Stanley even more directly, producing a rotary of his own.  It differed from Stanley's in being operated, not by rack and pinion, but by raising and lowering the whole top stove plate with the foot-operated lever C projecting at the side of the stove.  Town did not explain how the plate was supposed to be rotated once it had been elevated -- probably by the cook giving a hefty push to the hot iron, balancing on one leg while the other held the lever down; a tricky operation made all the less pleasant by the smoke and heat pouring into the kitchen at waist level while the stove top was raised.  This cannot have been a very attractive feature of it, though the quality of the seal between the top of Stanley's stove and the rim it sat on cannot have been perfect either.  

* * *

Elisha Town was "a most ingenious inventive Cabinet Maker" with a history of coomercially unsuccessful mechanical invention stretching back more than twenty years.  He was, according to the town historian, writing in 1860, a "genius."  "Montpelier [the state's capital, second-largest town, and biggest center of manufacturing and trade] never produced, and it is doubtful whether the whole state ever produced, a man of a more truly inventive mind. But his book knowledge of mechanics and previous mechanical inventions, was quite limited; and he was known to have studied out principles and spent much time in building machines for their application to inventions, which,though perfectly original in him, were found, at last, to have been long before made and put in operation by others. And although he was continually getting up something new, yet we now find his name coupled with no invention of much importance... Like most men of inventive genius, he was through life emphatically poor, but was ever esteemed, up to the time of his death a few years ago, a most inoffensive and worthy citizen."  Announcing his last patent, in 1837 -- a device to enable railroad locomotives to climb steep inclines -- the Vermont Telegraph, of Brandon, used similarly respectful language to praise the efforts of "our worthy and persevering fellow citizen." ["Vermont Against the World," 30 Aug. 1837, p. 3]

This is probably not how he appeared to Henry Stanley, against whom he and his son appeared as principal witnesses in an important week-long and widely-reported patent-violation suit in 1836.  Henry Hewitt (whom I have not been able to trace yet) had been making and selling direct copies of Stanley's stove -- recording at least a hundred sales in Vermont alone before being detected and sued -- and defended himself by arguing, amongst other things, that the principle of the rotary had been invented by Town in 1823-1824, and that he had even had a prototype of it cast.  Stanley counter-argued "that Town's stove, whatever it was, was useless, and had been abandoned as such; and that the plaintiff had no knowledge of it when he made his invention and improvement, and that his stove, in all the important improvements by him claimed, was wholly unlike Town's stove..."  However, the judge found defects in Stanley's patent, and voided it, opening the field to other imitators.

A search of the Library of Congress's entire online newspaper collection finds no results for "Town rotary stove," while there are 168 results for "rotary stove" 1836-1845 in Vermont newspapers alone.  This suggests that (a) Town's Rotary was never made and sold, and (b) its patent may not even have been intended for this purpose, but rather as a means of undermining Stanley's, which it certainly helped to do. 

Fairbanks, Thaddeus. St. Johnsbury. Stove, Cooking. X8763. 1835. 126/1R

This stove was a combination of quite traditional features -- it looked like a square or oval ten-plate stove, with just two boiler holes; its smoke pipe was in the same inconvenient central location as on the 1815 William James design; and it had a small, letterbox-shaped oven -- and some that were up-to-date: the "sunk hearth," the location of the fire above the level of the oven, and a downdraft flue system, all of which would be standard features of most cooking stoves from the 1840s onwards.

Thaddeus Fairbanks (1796-1866) was born in Massachusetts but settled in St. Johnsbury, the largest town in north-eastern Vermont, in 1815.  His father had a grist mill, and he set up a wheelwright's shop in the same building.  In 1823 he opened a small foundry, and in 1824 went into business with his brother Erastus, manufacturing stoves and farm implements.  "For stoves and ploughs he made the patterns largely with his own hands, moulded many of them, improved the blast [actually a cupola] furnace, and attended to the melting, mixing the iron, and studying how to make strong castings."  Their path to riches, fame, and honors resulted from their invention of the platform scale, because of dissatisfaction with those that were available to their business at the time.  By the time Thaddeus patented this stove one or both brothers had already patented a cast-iron plough (4404X, 1826 -- Thaddeus); a flax and hemp dresser (6149X, 1830 -- Thaddeus and Ethan H. Nichols); and taken out their key scales patents (6573X and 8046X, 1831; 6941X, 7225X, and 8047X, 1832).

Fairbanks's stoves were certainly made and sold.  Their Burlington dealer advertised them thus in 1838:  they were "an article well worthy the attention of the public.  They are considered by those who have used them, as decidedly superior to any other Cooking Stove now in use."  This was, of course, more or less the same claim as any dealer made about any stove he handled and promoted.  There were no further Fairbanks stove patents, but advertisements for the sale of his "Diving Flue" stoves continued for the next decade.  The company had already been specializing in weighing scales for years, so it is a bit anomalous that he should apparently have reverted to a line of business that had been more important to his firm a decade earlier.  However, it must have been profitable if it was continued so long.

Gore, jr, E. Guilford. Stove, Cooking. X9026. 1835. Burnt.            

Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove, Revolving cooking. X9282. 1835. Burnt.

Perry, P.F. Rockingham. Stove, Cooking. X9794. 1836. 126/1R

This was a strange but practicable little "portable furnace" (2 feet wide x 1 foot deep and 1 high excepting the legs) for inserting into a small fireplace and doing a limited amount of cooking in its two 9" boiler holes.  It had no oven, so could only bake in a tin kitchen placed in front of it on the hearth.

Granger, Chester. Pittsford. Stove, Cooking. X9875. 1836. 126/1R   

Granger took out his rotary stove patent after Stanley's had been voided as a result of the judge's decision in the Hewitt case.  The text is a long, detailed, and complicated description, not helped by a drawing providing no information about the stove's internal structure and workings.  In essence it seems to be a closer imitation of the Town patent than of Stanley's, lacking the former's impractical lever action to raise and rotate the turntable, but also the latter's rack and pinion to move it easily.  Instead it had roller bearings, which were supposed to make it possible to turn the hot stove top by hand.  Otherwise, it's a very standard flat cook stove, with sunk hearth and a side door for feeding wood into the firebox.

Chester Granger (b. 1797) came to Pittsford from the Salisbury, Connecticut, iron district in 1826, to join his father Simeon who had bought a blast furnace producing pig iron and stoves which was where the first Conant stoves had been made in 1819.  In 1829 they built a foundry for stove-making near the blast furnace.  The Grangers were important local citizens -- the community that grew up around their works, a mile out of town along Furnace Road, is still called Grangerville.  Simeon died in 1834, and Chester took over as the leading member of the family partnerships that continued to run and develop it until after the Civil War.  Chester was remembered at the end of his long life as an ironmaster, bank director, and railroad promoter as "a man of energy, public spirit, and sterling integrity, and many a poor person can testify as to his private charity and benevolence."  As in the case of Elisha Town, it is unlikely that Henry Stanley would have spoken as kindly of him, and certainly not in 1836.  Granger's stoves were advertised and sold, for example in Brattleboro and vicinity in the 1837-1838 seasons, but it's not clear that his patent rotary and the "celebrated conical stove" were one and the same; it is however possible that the curious raised collars forming the boiler holes on the top of the stove gave it its name, to distinguish it from all of the other rotaries thronging the market.

Town, Elisha. Montpelier. Stove, Crane cooking. No. 37.    1836. 126/211; 206/1.5 

This was not a new patent, just an amended reissue of his original 7871X of 1833, which had been voided like Stanley's for errors in its claims.

Spaulding, Samuel Brown. Brandon. Stove, Cooking. No. 83. 1836. 126/1R; 126/154

Spaulding's was another modified step-stove with a few distinctive features:

(a) the four boiler holes were made from concentric rings of cast iron so that they could take pots of different sizes -- a common feature at the time, when households had a mixture of new and old utensils which had not yet been sized uniformly to fit in e.g. 7" or 9" holes; 

(b) the drawing does not show this, but between each pair of holes there was a removable cross-piece, enabling a large oval water boiler to be inserted with both covers removed too; 

(c) Spaulding had his own solution to the "burning out of the front oven plate" problem, a removable heavy plate [P in the top drawing]; 

(d) he made the front door of his firebox from sliding slats, EE and FF in their open and closed positions, to control the draft and also permit a "pleasant and cheerful" view of the fire if wanted.  This was a cheaper and more durable solution than the alternative adopted in late models of the Woolson stove, to have mica windows.  Finally 

(e) he had his own mechanical answer to the problem of varying the amount of heat applied to cooking utensils in the front two boiler holes over the fire.  In Town's Crane Stove they could be swung away from the fire; in Spaulding's the fire itself could be raised or lowered by his rack-and-pinion mechanism.

All I can find about Spaulding is that he was a "prominent merchant" in Brandon, born 1789, died 1851.

Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove, Revolving Cooking. No. 91. 1836. 126/1AA; 126/211           

As with Town's No. 37, not a new patent but an amended text for the voided old one, i.e. what would later be termed a reissue.  There is no new drawing with this patent, but the text has the great advantage of being printed.

Richardson, James. Poultney. Stove, Cooking. No. 310. 1837. 126/1A           

Not a very interesting stove, and hardly worth pulling the drawing across from the PTO website to take up  space here -- click the link to see it.  An ordinary square, flat cook stove with a few distinctive features designed to improve draught under the oven and equalize temperature within it.  As with Stanley's it makes an explicit mention of its adaptability to burn anthracite as well as wood -- an important indicator of change in Vermont urban fuel markets by the mid-1830s.  Richardson's design was also suitable for stoves with revolving tops, so it would be interesting to know what relationship he had with the Stanley firm (if any).  Neither he nor either of the witnesses to his patent shows up among the firm's 116 Vermont creditors, 1838-1843.  But Richardson was a Poultney cabinet maker and (probably) pattern maker too.  He and his two witnesses all joined with Stanley in setting up the Bank of Poultney in 1839-40, but this may signify nothing more than that they were all small-town businessmen who knew and were used to working with one another. 

Strickland, Horace. Bradford.    Stoves, Management of the draft, &c., in cooking. No. 1651. 1840. 126/1AE

A peculiar-looking modification of the standard flat, square stove, with

(a) an air space between the fire box and the oven, to prevent the plates burning out, and

(b) a couple of small furnaces, i.e. small hibachi-like contrivances with their own independent fires sited on top of the stove towards the back and venting through the regular chimney.  These were particularly useful in summer, because small cooking tasks could be undertaken without using much fuel or overheating the kitchen, but they also provided two additional boiler or griddle holes at any time of the year.  

Strickland's stove may have been idiosyncratic, but it was practical and saleable: in 1841 one manufacturer and dealer advertised it as "the best article for cooking now offered to the public," and the fact that another foundry enterprise had bought the right to make it testifies to its value; as late as 1844 his stoves were still being sold alongside Fairbanks's.  Strickland was a Bradford foundry operator who had entered the business in a small way in about 1834 and stayed in it for most of his life, growing a quite diverse wood and metal-working enterprise.  His principal trade was in plows and other agricultural implements.

Tilden, Lester. Barre. Stove with elevated oven, Cooking. No. 1698. 1840. 126/17
 * Tilden, L. Barre. Stove, Cooking. 1843.    DISCLAIMER (at the end of the above patent record)

Tilden's is the first Vermont example of a fairly new and quite popular stove type, the "elevated oven," widely available from about 1837-1838.   Conventional stoves required complex arrangements of internal flues and dampers to enable the cook to direct the heat to the boiler holes or the oven, and the use of one could compromise the working of the other.  In an elevated oven stove the heat of the smoke escaping up the chimney was utilized in a sheet-iron oven which could also be larger and perhaps more convenient and economical than in a regular stove.  Tilden's had a wide rather than deep cooking surface, more like a range than a stove, and three large boiler-holes.  This also meant that it would take wood 3 feet long in the firebox, an advantage over the normal stove because it meant less cross-cutting for the farmer to do.

The Tildens were an important Barre family, and Lester went into business with his brothers Harvey and Webber to manufacture and sell his stove.  It was sufficiently valuable for them to advertise it widely.  At the start of the 1840 stove-buying season their announcement "Clear the Way for Tilden's  Improved Cooking Stove!" spells out the brothers' claims on their stove's behalf:
This stove unites great simplicity of construction with economy and convenience in all its operations, and has even exceeded the most sanguine expectations of its inventor, also given the most perfect satisfaction to all who have used it. The fire arch of this stove is large and will take in wood three feet in length. -- there are three boilers arranged over this arch in such a manner that they come in immediate contact with the fire.  Opposite and directly back of these boilers are three pillars which support the oven. This oven is large and of a beautiful construction, and is elevated fifteen inches above the top plate. Inside of these [pillars] are three  valves or dampers so constructed that the heat may be thrown into any part of the stove at pleasure, thus enabling the user to bring the heat to bear upon any one or all of the boilers at the same time
Of course, if a stove was worth advertising, it was also worth copying, and this happened immediately, another Barre firm produced their own version, which they called The Farmers Cooking Stove after they had tried unsuccessfully to persude the Tildens to sell them a right to manufacture it for $200.  They pointed to a feature that, they claimed, Tilden's shared with one of Town's old stoves, in order to challenge its novelty.  They also asserted that Tilden had basically stolen the design from another inventor, Darius S. Rowell, adding the feature from Town's stove, and winning a race with Rowell to get his design patented first.  [See L. & W. Tilden & Co., "Facts for the People," vs. E.A. Webb & Co., Montpelier, "Stoves!!!" Vermont Watchman and State Journal, 7 Dec. 1840, p. 4; and, at even greater length, and with much colourful language, as well as a picture of the stove, J.L. and G.C. Robinson, "More Light! More Light! More Light! Statement of Facts Never Before Communicated!" vs. L.W. Tilden & Co., "A Brief Reply to Folks Up Salt River," Vermont Watchman 25 Jan. 1841, p. 3.]

The outcome of this dispute is unclear -- if the suit ever went to trial, it was unreported, like all but a few stove patent cases -- but in March 1843 the Tilden brothers filed a disclaimer, denying that  their patent depended on the plate they were challenged with having copied from Town.  There may be an answer in the PTO files (if any) on this patent in the NS National Archives, but on the face of it it seems that their patent still had a value to them in 1843, and that they were able to correct the vulnerability that the Robinsons had identified.  

Chase, Samuel Logan. Woodstock. Stove, Cooking. No. 1799. 1840. 126/13
* Chase, Samuel L. Woodstock. Stove, Cooking. RE35. 1841. 126/13. REISSUE      

Chase called this his "Rarefier Cooking-Stove."  The distinctive features were the arrangements of flues around the ovens of his stoves (they came in two- and four-oven variants) and the rigging up of an additional two cooking-holes on the front hearth, which could be swung out of the way when not in use.  Chase had to clarify (amend via reissue) his patent claims the following year.

Chase sold the right to manufacture and sell the stove within Windsor County to Titus Hutchinson, Jr., a local foundry operator.  It was advertised as "Operating Upon A Principle Entirely New," true enough given that its ovens and flues were quite unlike those in other stoves made at the time, and also as being extremely economical, using just a quarter of the fuel others required to do a similar amount of cooking.  Hutchinson rounded up endorsements from several satisfied local customers to support these claims.  [Hutchinson ad., "Save Your Fuel," The Spirit of the Age [Woodstock] 5 March 1841, p. 3.]  

There is no evidence, from advertisements, of its having been sold more widely across Vermont, or for more than a season.  The swinging hearth was picked up by other stove designers, but what Chase thought of as his key fuel-saving features were not.  Possibly his ovens, while multiple and efficient, were just too small for consumers by the 1840s, who expected more capacity.

Bean, Alexander F. Woodstock. Stove, Cooking & heating. No. 2156. 1841. 126/13

A quite bizarre stove including a heat-exchanger (the structure at the rear left) enabling it to serve as a sort of warm-air furnace, heating upstairs rooms, and an elevated oven f.  Perhaps its most interesting feature was that it incorporated, and claimed to improve on, Chase's swinging hearth, clearly the most attractive and imitable feature of his stove.  There is no evidence that this turned from an over-complicated design into a merchantable product.  Dual- or even triple-function stoves (to cook, heat, and in at least one New Hampshire case, generate gas for illumination at the same time) were attractive notions for American inventors, but rather less popular with makers and consumers.

Chase, Samuel L. Woodstock. Stove, Cooking. No. 2216. 1841. 126/13

A simpler and probably cheaper stove than his 1840 model, with four boiler holes on two levels and small twin ovens E, rather inconveniently located at the rear, and including his swinging hearth.  Interestingly, Alexander Bean was one of the witnesses to this patent, alongside Chase's experienced patent agent Thomas P. Jones, so they were probably associates, which would help explain why Bean had adopted Chase's swinging hearth.

Spaulding, Samuel B. Brandon. Ovens with stoves, Combining elevated . No. 2235. 1841. 126/17

Simply a means of attaching an elevated oven to a stove not originally designed to have one -- a small, useful fitting.  The only reference I can find to Spaulding's patents turning into saleable products may concern this one.  In November 1843 Clark Rich, a Shoreham merchant, informed potential customers that he stocked "all the best NOTION, and other Cook, parlor, and box Stoves, cast at Brandon and Pittsford [i.e. by Conant and Granger]; particularly the [Conant] Yankee Notion Cook Stoves with Spaulding's patent ovens."

Stanley, Henry. Poultney, W. Oven Valve. No. 2664. 1842. 126/19R

Valves to control the flow of flue gas into and around elevated ovens.


Bartholomew, Moses. Vershire. Stove with elevated oven, Cooking. No. 2699. 1842. 126/2

Another oddity -- the "conjoined furnace stove," for wood or coal.  Bartholomew's USP was to have two fireboxes, one just for the large front boiler hole, the other for the two at the rear, which could be used separately or together.  The rear firebox could even be subdivided, to run just one boiler hole.  This was a (generally unwanted, in practice) answer to the common problem of what to do when you did not want to do much cooking or, in summer, to pour undesired heat into the kitchen.  Consumers' usual techniques seem to have been simpler than inventors' -- having a small, separate "furnace" for stewing and grilling, in or outside; buying a parlor stove adapted to do a little cooking, in a way that compromised its function less than modifying a cook stove to be more flexible in its fuel consumption and heat output; and, as stoves became lighter, simply moving them to a porch, lean-to, or "summer kitchen" outside when it became intolerable to cook indoors.  

Batholomew's elevated oven had one useful new feature, doors at both ends making it easier to clean.  The drawing is helpful to us, too, because it allows us to see the construction of the oven through the open door -- concentric ovals of sheet iron, meaning that the oven was entirely surrounded in hot flue gases and had fewer problems of hot and cold spots than a conventional oven.  His two-column arrangement is also very reminiscent of the highly decorated parlor stoves flooding onto the market at the same time (see this post).  There is no evidence that this stove was ever made or sold.  

Moses Bartholomew (1788-1856) was ""the most extensive farmer in his locality.  His wonderful energy and thoroughness are illustrated by the miles of stone wall he built, which will apparently stand until some earthquake dislodges the stones.  He owned and operated several mills, but gave much of his time to public affairs, being frequently elected selectman, representative, etc.  He was noted for his honesty and integrity.  Was a whig and republican, and a member of the Baptist Church."  Bartholomew was the sort of amateur, one-time patentee who flourished during the Age of Democratic Invention, but quite unlike his more successful Vermont contemporaries in terms of his lack of connection to the stove business, and the fact that he lived in a rural backwater with no local iron industry.  In these respects he was more like his peers in New Hampshire next door.

Spaulding, Samuel B. Brandon. Stove with elevated oven. No. 3021. 1843. 126/17

This looked like a perfectly conventional four-boiler step stove with elevated oven, but in fact Spaulding had done something rather clever, enlarging the smoke flue at the back of stove to make it big enough to contain a small firebox.  This was a neat way of enabling the cook to adapt to doing small amounts of work without having to light the main fire, as he explained:

It is possible that this, not his earlier elevated oven patent, is the one referred to in 1843 advertisements, which suggest that Spaulding probably sold the right to use his patents to his neighbours the Conants.

Fairbanks, Thaddeus. St. Johnsbury. Stovepipe, Creating Draft in Flue. No. 3100. 1843. 126/312; 110/160; 454/39 

Not really a stove patent, despite its name -- more applicable to industrial boilers and furnaces, particularly those using anthracite fuel.

Bradley, Jeptha. Saint Albans. Air-heating furnace. No. 3636. 1844. 126/6

An unusual kind of warm-air furnace in that it was intended for wood, not anthracite, as its fuel, so it was a long box containing the fire and the heat exchanger encased in an insulating outer shell, rather than the usual pot-bellied coal stove sitting in a brick or iron air chamber.  Bradley (1802-1864), a lawyer by training, has a Wikipedia entry, largely on  account of his local political career.  Wiki contains what may be an explanation for why he designed this furnace: he "was one of the founders of the Horticultural Society for the Valley of Lake Champlain in 1850," and particularly interested in fruit-growing.  His furnace looks more appropriate for the glasshouse than the dwelling.


Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove, Coal. No. 3876. 1845. 126/75
* Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove, Coal. 1859. EXTENSION        * Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Heating Stove, Coal. RE944. 1860. REISSUE
* Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove, Coal. RE958. 1860. REISSUE

A great departure for Stanley, and for Vermont stove inventors in general -- a heating stove, not a cook stove; and something that was grand and decorative, rather than utilitarian and functional.  "Stanley's Coal-Burner" demonstrated that, even after his firm's insolvency, Stanley was thinking of the national, and not merely a local, market.  To meet the needs of middle-class urban consumers across the North, and to produce a design he could sell to Hudson Valley manufacturers now that he was no longer able to turn his own ideas directly into products at his own foundry, he suited it to the fuel of choice, anthracite, and he adopted the aesthetic of the multi-columnar heating stove.  The evidence of his success is in his patent's history of extension for an additional seven years in 1859, and reissue -- in April 1860 by his assignors (i.e. the men who had bought his patent), and again in May, making further changes in what they claimed on its behalf, by Charles Eddy and Jacob Shavor, Troy stove makers.  It's not clear whether, by then, its enduring value was as the basis of a saleable product, or instead as intellectual property to be deployed in patent violation wars between producers of that highly profitable must-have new appliance for the middle-class home, the base-burner.

Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove, Rotary-top. No. 4238. 1845. 126/1E; 126/211

See picture above.  Demonstrates how Stanley had updated his rotary stove to meet the changing requirements of the market for a lareg downdraft-flue oven occupying the entire body of the stove, apart from the firebox.

Stanley, Henry. Poultney. Stove. D40. 1845. D23/346

Another new departure: the first (and, in the 1840s, only) Vermont example of the new type of patent, for designs rather than improvements.  Again, for a decorative parlor stove.  The patent itself does not say who bought (assigned) Stanley's patent, but this stove certainly was made, in large enough numbers for museums and private collectors to have them nowadays.  For examples, see: 



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