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Saturday, September 12, 2015

Down East: Maine Stove Inventors and their Inventions, 1820-1850 {TBA}

Maybe it's just the completist in me, or the fact that it is raining, or something, but I have decided that the survey of the coming of the "stove revolution" to northern New England, covered in the last few posts, might as well get finished.  I already have a base map of inventors' places of residence -- not sure about the "red smoking factory" icon, may change it.

What does this seem to indicate?  That Maine's stove inventors lived in towns and small cities along the coast and inland transport routes in the more developed south and west of the state is immediately obvious, and entirely predictable.  But it will be necessary to dig up more information about who they were, what they did, and of course what they (thought that they had) invented, before anything like a "conclusion" can be reached.

* * * 

First, though, an outline of the state's population history is necessary, given that (particularly in the case of New Hampshire) the low rate of new household formation during the crucial decades when northern New Englanders were adopting the new technology for cooking and heating impresses me as such an important possible explanation for the difficulties local inventors had in successfully transforming good ideas for stoves into profitable local businesses in stove making and selling.

Maine's share of the total U.S. population peaked, at 3.2 percent, in 1810.  Thereafter, its relative importance was fairly stable for the three decades under scrutiny here -- still 2.9 percent in 1840, then falling sharply.  What this points to is something quite distinctive about Maine's population history, in northern New England terms at least: it was still experiencing rapid rates of growth and therefore new household formation (30 percent in the 1810s; 34 percent, the national average, in the 1820s; 26 percent in the 1830s; and only then declining steadily towards stagnation).  Maine, at least, was still a semi-frontier economy, lacking the infrastructure for manufacturing consumer durable goods but not, to the same extent as in New Hampshire and Vermont at least, the households to absorb them.

But by mid-century Maine had come into line with its neighbors to the west -- population growth falling to 16 percent in the 1840s, 8 percent in the 1850s, and nothing in the 1860s.   (For comparison: New Hampshire: 12 percent, 3 percent, -2 percent; Vermont: 8 percent, zero, 4 percent.)   After about 1840, all three northern New England states also turned quite decisively into consumers of appliances made elsewhere, rather than producers of new stoves themselves, or ideas for them -- on the fringe of the manufacturing economy, their needs supplied from its core.

By the early 1870s, when the stove industry was at its zenith, these three states, with 3.3 percent of the nation's population, only counted seven small stove makers and one medium-to-large one, whose joint annual production capacity was just 2.3 percent of the national total.  Given that almost all of the industry was located in the old industrial belt, stretching from the Southwest Maine-New Hampshire-Massachusetts coast as far west as the Mississippi and as far south as the Ohio, northern New England's underrepresentation was even greater:
O.E. Sheridan           Highgate, VT     280

Cole Bugbee & Co.        Lebanon, NH     450
B.J. Cole & Co.        Lakeville, NH     425
William P. Ford & Co.    Concord, NH     600
Harrison Eaton           Amherst, NH     275

Somerset Machine Co. Great Falls, NH   3,000

Hinkley & Rollins         Bangor, ME     450
Wood Bishop & Co.         Bangor, ME     275

Total:                                  5,755 Tons
There was a significant New England stove industry, but it was mostly in Massachusetts (13 firms, capacity 14,650 tons), Connecticut (6 firms, 7,255 tons), and Rhode Island (3 firms, 2,250 tons).  Apart from these, northern New England's stove-dependent populations depended on buying the appliances they needed from the great national firms in the Hudson Valley and, to a lesser extent, south-eastern Pennsylvania (Philadelphia and the Lower Schuylkill Valley).  Whether in terms of the production of goods or of ideas, northern New England had become quite marginal in its importance, quite a comedown from the 1820s and 1830s when Vermont, in particular, had been a site of (for its time) comparatively large-scale production, and significant innovations and innovators, notably John Conant and Henry Stanley.

Maine never produced any inventor or maker who figured as prominently in the history of the stove industry as did either of these men, or even Thomas Woolson of New Hampshire. By the time that Maine merchants, artisans, and others began to join the growing list of stove patentees, the parade had already moved on.  They were living on the fringes of the market, and of the emerging manufacturing belt, right from the start.

Maine Stove Patents and their Patentees:

The list is quite long, but it will not detain us for very long, because so many of the pre-1836 patents were consumed by fire and never restored.  Nothing survives from before 1835, and only one of that year's nine Maine cooking and heating appliance patents.  1836 is better -- five from nine.  What this seems to indicate is that few of Maine's stove (etc.) patentees were able or could be bothered to respond to the Patent Office's invitation to restore their patents, which suggests that some or even most of them were of little commercial value.  In some cases summaries of the text of lost patents survive, together with an expert (usually dismissive) commentary on them, all written by Thomas P. Jones, former Patent Office official, then editor of the Franklin Institute's prestigious Journal, the main instrument for communicating news about technology across America, and eventually one of the first professional patent agents.  But in too many cases there is nothing much at all to rely on, apart from some biographical detail in local histories and genealogical works.

Winslow, Nathan. Portland. Cooking Stove. X3200. 1820.    Burnt.

Nathan Winslow was the pioneer stove merchants trading in the Maine market.  Winslow (1785-1861) was a Quaker who became a strong, generous supporter of Garrisonian abolitionism -- he and his wife were the original financial backers for The Liberator.  The fact that he was a Quaker also connected him into the coastwise trading networks of his Philadelphia co-religionists who dominated the manufacture of stoves for the seaboard market in their furnaces in southern New Jersey and south-eastern Pennsylvania.  In 1823 he operated what was described as a "stove factory and hardware" business, but in this case "factory" still had its pre-industrial meaning: Winslow's premises on the corner of Middle and Federal Streets were where he "factored" stoves.  There was only one other firm in the city doing a similar business: Eleazar Wyer & Joseph Noble, who also ran a stove factory and sold "fancy goods" (imported textiles).  Wyer was a silversmith, Noble a coppersmith and brass founder, who had gone into partnership to run a stove wholesale business in 1821.  Fortunately some of the correspondence of both firms survives among the business papers of their suppliers, Samuel Gardiner Wright and David Cooper Wood, owners of the Delaware Furnace in Millsboro and the Millville Furnace just across the Delaware estauary in New Jersey.  So it is possible to know something about the operations of the first traders bringing iron stoves to the booming Maine market, with its 300,000 people.

Winslow and Wyer & Noble were already doing plenty of trade in the early 1820s.  Winslow, for example, supplied the state with a "Stove, Funnel, Carpets, and Mason Work for the Senate Chamber" in 1821; Wyer & Noble repaired the Court House stove and funnel in the same year.  They did not just buy the stove plates Wright and Wood supplied, assembling and finishing them in their own workshops, they also sent the blast furnace operators patterns and clear instructions about what would and would not sell in the Maine market.  There were few direct sailings between Philadelphia and Portland, a distance of more than 500 miles by sea, and no scheduled packets in the early 1820s, so stove plates, patterns, etc., were sent via intermediary merchants -- James Wilson in New York, Moses Pond in Boston -- who were also Friends, and lived in cities with regular shipping routes to and from Philadelphia.

At the end of November 1824, for example, Wyer & Noble placed an order for about a thousand stoves (100 tons @ $60 a ton) for the 1825 season; Winslow's for 1823 was about the same size.  They were almost all Franklins of one sort or another -- i.e. iron fireplaces, with or without doors turning them into semi-closed stoves -- together with Factory and Church stoves (probably large 6-plate stoves, without ovens because they were just for space heating), Cabouses for cooking onboard ships, and 6-plate box stoves for heating ordinary rooms.  Only 40 of them were cooking stoves. 

Of course, this is just a snapshot of one firm's estimate of what it could sell in the local market, but it seems representative of what both of them were providing and what their customers wanted.  (Interestingly, a fair proportion of Franklins were ordered with grates, implying that they were for use with coal as well as wood -- bituminous coal imported from Virginia, or from Britain, was becoming increasingly common in the seaboard cities even before the coming of anthracite a little later.) 

Wyer & Noble's business letterhead provides the best illustration of the most important and typical item in both companies' stock-in-trade:

See for a very similar Winslow stove, c. 1830

The trade was very seasonal: many of both firms' customers were upcountry, and they wanted their new stoves after the harvest, when they had still some cash, or goods to barter, but before winter, when stoves were increasingly viewed as essential, but transporting several hundred pounds of cast iron by river and then the last few miles by road became impossible.  In November 1822, for example, Wyer & Noble pressed Wright for one last shipment in the season: "a reason we are so earnest is that many places we have engaged to supply will soon be closed with ice & we shall loose (sic) the sale of them & prevent our introducing them in places where they are not known."

We will never know what exactly Winslow's cooking stove was like, but the best guess is that it was only very slightly different from other cooking stoves available at the same time -- a 9-plate (sometimes still called a 10, for historic reasons) with an oven and one or more boiler holes in the top.  The demand for them was not large in the early 1820s, but it was beginning to grow, and enough for it to have seemed worthwhile to Winslow to make a small improvement and to try to protect it with a patent.

Graham, Asa. Rumford. Building Stoves & Chimneys. X7345. 1832. Burnt.           

Graham (b. 1797) was a Rumford innkeeper.  There is no mention of stoves in the Rumford town history.

Carlisle, Josiah C. Chesterville. X7545. Oven. 1833. Burnt.
Summarized by the editor of the Journal of the Franklin Institute, rather sniffily -- "This oven, we suppose, is to be built of brick, or stone; the lower part of it forms a fireplace something like that of a common stove, with an oven above it. The covering of this fireplace forms the floor of the oven, which is to be built above it in the usual arched manner; the arch, however, is to be thin, and is to have flues leading spirally over it, and terminating in a chimney. There is no claim made, and if we understand the thing, we do not believe that many persons will wish to interfere with the novelties of the invention."

Cayford, John E. Milburn. Fire-place or Stove. X7920. 1833. Burnt.           
Another provincial "invention" impressing Thomas P. Jones as no invention at all -- "The object in view in this patent is the construction of an open fireplace, for cooking, and heating rooms, by means of a small quantity of fuel; and we are told of many things which may be done in furtherance of this object; as, for example, that the fireplace may be made of cast or sheet iron, or of brick, or in part of one, and in part of another of these materials; and that there may be an oven, &c. &c. Among the things most important to be told in a specification, however, is what the patentee has invented; a thing, it is true, very frequently omitted; sometimes, no doubt, because the necessity of it is unknown, and sometimes because it would be impossible, which, it must be confessed, is a pretty good reason, and one that, we think, would fully apply in the case before us."  Cayford was a saw and grist miller.

Quimby, Daniel. Calais. Ventilating Stove. X8126. 1834. Burnt.
Ditto -- "The patentee claims 'the ventilating; apartments by air passing between, and in contact with, sheets of heated iron, or some other metal that will withstand fire,' a claim about as valid as the ventilating them by perforating them for doors and windows. The plan proposed of carrying this principle into effect is so old, that the period of its invention, and the name of its inventor, are both lost among the records of 'auld lang syne.' It consists in making a stove with double plates, the fire being contained in the inner box, and air admitted through a tube, or tubes, into the space between the two, and conducted off by others, as required."  Daniel Quimby was a physician, with some college education.

Tongue, Richard R. Fryburg. Improved Oven. X8363. 1834. Burnt.
Ditto. "An oven made of sheet iron, and set into a chimney jamb, in the manner well known, and long practised both in England, and with us, is shown in the drawing. and alluded to, but by no means described, in the specification; very properly, however, there is no claim made."

Abbott, Andrew. Portland. Cooking Stove. 1835. Burnt.           
No information about patent or patentee.

Rogers, Robert.    S. Berwick. Steam-heater for Buildings.    1835. Burnt.
Ditto. "This apparatus, we are informed, produces radiated heat, steam heat, and heated air at the same time, which are conjointly to be employed in the heating of buildings. The stove or furnace part may be said to consist of three concentric cylindrical vessels; the innermost of these is a circular pipe, like a stove pipe, which U to receive cold air at its lower end, below the ash pit; its upper end supplying lateral pipes with heated air at any convenient height above the fire chamber. This pipe, to the height of the fire chamber, is surrounded by a double cylindrical boiler which forms the inner wall of that chamber. The fire chamber is formed by a second double cylindrical boiler, placed at a proper distance from the former, and of the same height with it, and which is also the outer wall of the chamber, occapying the place of the ordinary lining of a cylinder stove; the grate bars and ash pit are formed as usual, and there are cold water and steam tabes leading into the boilers. The smoke pipe surrounds the air pipe, being reduced in its diameter by the conical form given to the stove above the fireplace.

The patentee believes that this stove will be very economical, producing a very large portion of heat from a small quantity of fuel, and as he does not point out any particular part of it as his invention, he appears to think that the whole arrangement is new; this, however, is a mistake, concentric cylindrical boilers forming the walls of the fire chamber having been repeatedly employed. Had we time to dwell upon it we could easily point out what we consider as great practical objections to the contrivance."

Gerrish, Ansel. Shapleigh. Chimney funneled Fire-place. X8616. 1835. Burnt.

Unfortunately Thomas Jones does not seem to have taken any notice of this patent. Gerrish (b. 1804) was a Methodist Epsicopal minister and, by the time he took out this patent, a physician.  At some point he became an investor in local water-power rights and other property.  He actually managed to sell (assign) his patent on the 2nd of  January 1836 to Frederick Ansel Wood for the impressive sum of $500 for its full term of fourteen years, and that only gave Wood exclusive rights within the County of York, and the towns of Acton, N. and S. Berwick and Berwick and Lebanon.  Wood was a local businessman with diverse interests, particularly (though much later) in wood products.

Bailey, John & William C. Farmington. Kitchen Boiler. X8830. 1835. 126/513.

The first surviving Maine patent for a cooking or heating appliance "improvement" was for a water heater to fit into an ordinary wood-fueled fireplace.  It was a copper or other metal cylinder about 12" long by 5-6" diameter, capable of heating a 6-12 gallon cistern of water hot enough to do the family washing.  The Baileys claimed three great advantages for their device: convenience and fuel economy in water heating, and also the ability to use steam generated for cooking purposes, potatoes in particular.  Thomas Jones did not report on and evaluate this patent in the Franklin Institute Journal, and I cannot find out much about the Baileys apart from the fact that they were (probably) farmers and sons of one of Farmington's leading citizens.  Farmington was a township of about 400 people, "destitute of water power, and situated ... far from water communication."  It is hard to see why the Baileys thought there was anything very patentable in their simple device.

Pollard, Samuel. Bucksport. Construction and application of Oven. X8887. 1835. Burnt.
No information.

Rogers, Robert. S. Berwick. Warming Buildings by Radiated and Steam Heat. X8962. 1835. Burnt.
No information, apart from the fact that this may have been (one of) the first steam-heating patents in the U.S.

Greely, Ebenezer S. Dover. Fire-place. X9139. 1835. Burnt.           
Greely was a local law officer, b. 1797, and helped to trigger the Aroostook War of 1838-9 between American settlers and the British authorities in disputed border territory.  According to Pierce, Fire on the Hearth, p. 237, his was a cast-iron fireplace, but I do not know what her source for that claim was, and cannot verify it.  

Sutherland, David. Lisbon. Stove or Fire-place. X9221. 1835. 126/500           
No information.

Douglass, Joshua S. Durham. Cooking Stove & Fire-place. X9238. 1835. Burnt.           
Joshua Douglas or Douglass (b. 1794) was a local farmer and "an excellent man, a worthy minister of the Society of Friends."

Pollard, Samuel. Orono. Oven. X9349. 1836. Burnt.
No information.

Kendrick, Cyrus & Elwell, William. Gardiner. Stove or Fire-place. X9433. 1836. Burnt.

Thomas P. Jones wrote: "A hollow box of iron is placed across the back of the fire place, with a tube from one end of it leading into a cellar, or other place, for a supply of cold air, the other end being furnished with a tube to conduct the heated air into the room; this latter tube is to pass to some distance up the chimney, where it is to be elbowed, so as to admit the heated air into the room; and the patentees say, 'what we specifically claim as our improvement, and for which we ask an exclusive right, is the making of, and applying a box, cistern, or cockle, as above described, to a common fire place, fire frame, or stove, for the purpose of heating, or warming, rooms.'
This plan is equally old, and inefficient. Would it not be well to add a dog wheel, or some other motive power, to force air through the tube by means of a blowing apparatus?"

Kendrick (b. 1788) was a grocer, a former school teacher, and a prominent citizen -- a leading Mason, Moderator and Selectman in 1837, who continued in local office for years afterwards.  Elwell (b. 1802) was the owner of the 122-ton schooner "Adventure."  Whatever the originality, success, or otherwise of their joint patent may have been, Elwell, at least had a career as a repeat inventor ahead of him, with a Fly-Trap in 1859 and an Earth Pulverizer (agricultural harrow) in 1865.  The commercial fate of these ideas might be traceable in the Patent & Trademark Office's assignment records, supposing that anybody could have been bothered to buy the right to use them.

Prescott, William Richards. Hallowell. Fire-place. X9522. 1836. Burnt.           
No information about the patent, but Prescott (b. 1805) was a founder member of the Hallowell Mechanic Association, established in 1833 "for the purposes of taking measures for the improvement of mechanics as a class or body of men, and making provision for the relief of unfortunate members and of the families of deceased members."  He became an executive committee member of the Maine Anti-Slavery Society (if he's the same William, that is).  Twenty years later he was still recorded as a local stove dealer.

Russell, Nathaniel. Waterville. Cooking Stove. X9656. 1836. 126/1R.

Pay dirt at last!  Russell's was a fully realized cooking stove of an identifiable type that had become popular in more mature markets (like New York's) a few years earlier -- what was called, for obvious reasons, an "Oven Franklin," i.e. a familiar-looking free-standing iron fireplace with the by-then traditional brass-ball decorations on its mantel, but also with a proper oven set behind it, and four boiler holes in the top plate.  It had an open fire with a grate capable of burning coal or wood, and the usual damper-controlled flue system wrapping around the oven to equalize the temperature within it.  The fire front could be closed with a sheet-iron "blower," rendering it somewhat more efficient and stove-like.  As was also quite usual for stove inventors tinkering with minor improvements to established stove types, Russell's claims were appropriately modest, and confined to his oven flue arrangements.  He does not show up in local histories, and vital facts about him [?] available online are very sparse and quite unhelpful.

Higgins, Charles. Turner. Cooking Stove. X9695. 1836. 126/1R.

Another Oven Franklin, making even fewer claims than Russell's -- a very generic stove.  Higgins, b. 1784 [?], does not figure in the town history.  Turner had a foundry meeting local needs from about 1820, but no recorded stove and tinware shop before 1850.

Shaw, Thomas. North Yarmouth. Cooking Stove. X9776. 1836. 126/506.

Another Oven Franklin, with a cooking crane in the fireplace to make it more useful and familiar to cooks converting from open hearth cookery, and still equipped with the old round-bottomed and footed pots. Shaw's device, well drawn though it was, was actually even more primitive and transitional than Russell's or Higgins's -- just two boilers, and the smoke-pipe C emerging in a place that suited a "fire-frame" (an alternative term for the kind of Open Franklin that was really just an iron fireplace) but quite inconvenient if you needed to cook on the stove top behind it.  Shaw's stove had a grate, and was explicitly intended for wood or coal, though cord wood was cheap in town, and fuel economy or efficiency not a priority.  Shaw was a skilled North Yarmouth carpenter who died in 1838.

Buck, Renton. Acton. Cooking Fire-place. X9820. 1836. 126/506.

Not worth depicting or even describing at length, given that the text is barely legible, and the fire-place itself, though something that Buck had evidently made and used, was nothing more than an amateur's "bright idea" for making open-fire cooking a little more efficient (he thought).

Pitts, J. A. Winthrop. Heating Rooms and Ovens. X9891. 1836. Burnt.

Winslow, Nathan. Portland. Pendulum Grate. X9900. 1836. 126/152R.

In contrast to Buck's, Winslow's was a thoroughly modern and practicable device -- what would later be termed a "shaking and dumping" grate, an essential feature of an effective coal stove, in which the fire needed to be separated from the ashes accumulating within it.  Winslow's drawing shows his grate fitted into a cylindrical heating stove of the kind that, presumably, he was selling at the time.  Winslow still described himself as a "merchant" rather than as a manufacturer.  He and his brothers had a significant career as inventors and entrepreneurs ahead of them, successfully developing the technology for food canning into a major business from the 1840s on.  It is appropriate, or maybe just interesting, that Winslow should have been both the first and last patentee of improved cooking and heating appliances in the old, pre-Fire series of patents from Maine.

Leavitt, John S. Turner. Cooking Stove. 370. 1837. 126/18.

Recognizable as a free-standing cook stove, but one of very peculiar construction -- essentially an open iron fireplace (fire-frame or Franklin) y with flaring jambs, E, attached to a more conventional closed stove with a separate fire-box S, oven D, and boiler holes H I L M O, the latter rather inconveniently arranged over three levels.  Leavitt's design was clearly intended for users only just adjusting to cooking on a closed stove, and still hankering after the traditional open fire in the kitchen: "As many people are desirous of seeing the fire, or prefer an open fireplace to sit by, a fire may be put into the fire place Y whenever necessary or in evenings."  The oven and upper boiler holes could be heated by the open fire as well as by the enclosed stove fire.  This device would certainly have worked; whether it was made, or sold, is another matter, but what is most interesting about it, as with the earlier Oven Franklins, is what it says about the preferences of the Maine market, or at least about how these inventors perceived them.  Thomas P. Jones was typically sharp in his summary of this provincial amateur's work: Leavitt's "combination and arrangement [of fireplace and stove] differ sufficiently to sustain the claim for a patent; but as to points of superiority, we have nothing to say, as the drawing and description do not render their existence very manifest."  Leavitt did not have long to find out, as he died in 1838.

Parshley, Ebenezer L. & Furbish, Benjamin. Brunswick. Cooking Stove. 566. 1838. 126/1AE.

The first cooking stove patented in Maine that looked as if its inventors were familiar with the state of the art.  It was a conventional square cooking stove with four boilers arranged over two levels, and a downdraft-flue oven so designed as to address the usual desiderata: stopping the plates between the fire-box and the oven burning out, and preventing hot and cool spots in the oven by the flue arrangements.  Parshley and Furbish were evidently experienced, though probably small-scale or custom stovemakers:

Furbish (1807-1873) had set up as a tinware manufacturer in 1835 -- Brunswick had a continuous series of tinsmiths doing business there since 1821.  But, like many other country tinsmiths, he added the sale of stoves to his original trade, and would have been able to get the parts for the stoves he manufactured cast locally, as Brunswick also had an iron foundry.  Furbish's Greek Revival house (built 1836-1840) still stands in Brunswick, but he is more remembered for his daughter, Kate Furbish, botanist and botanical illustrator.  His papers are in the local historical societyParshley (1801-1865) was a local general merchant and school teacher.

Shepard, William A. Waterville. Cooking Stove. 2213. 1841. 126/67.

With Shepard we are back in the world of the amateur inventor with a bright idea -- in his case, for a heating stove that could do some cooking in its elevated oven and also serve as a cheap, small-scale furnace for warm-air heating.  There was nothing much wrong with it, in principle -- Americans had placed heat exchangers on top of stoves since the Pennsylvania Germans' "heating drum" on the stovepipe, for warming upstairs rooms.  The design of stoves like this was based on the "caloric" theory of heat, and the purpose was to extract as much of it as possible and make it useful.  The theory was wrong, but that didn't make heat exchangers based on them any less effective.  What was wrong with Shepard's design was that most American, and certainly most Maine, stove buyers were looking, in the first instance, for a good cooking stove; if they could squeeze some more thermal efficiency out of it, and warm another room with a heating drum, without compromising the stove's effectiveness for cooking, they might buy.  What Shepard had designed, however, was a heating stove too plain and ugly to sit in the parlor, if there was one, but with too little cooking capacity to earn its living in the kitchen.  It is difficult to see what kind of consumer he imagined might decide they needed the device he had produced.  The text of Shepard's stove makes it sound like something between a working prototype -- "I make" -- and a half-baked idea -- "I contemplate."  But he paid Thomas P. Jones, by then a professional patent agent, to prepare and file it for him.  It is no more than yet another interesting curiosity.  Part of that curiosity is the shape -- this inverted-bread-pan shape, and the half-octagonal hearth, are features of some versions of the classic Shaker heating stove.  But I can find no biographical data about him to explain why he may have made this particular design.

Mitchell, Reuben. Portland. Apparatus for Heating Buildings. 2550. 1842. 126/509.

Mitchell was a Portland merchant and bank cashier.  What he invented was a world away from the sort of simple cooking and heating equipment patented by his small-town contemporaries and predecessors.  It was for multi-story urban houses and business offices burning coal in fireplaces.  "As grates for the combustion of coal are now generally arranged, they have an opening formed in the hearth directly beneath them, through which the ashes and cinders fall or are sifted into an ash pit, which is a rectangular or other proper shaped brick chamber constructed in the cellar."  Mitchell used this ash chute as a fresh-air feed to his rather grand iron fireplaces on upper floors.  The illustration above is of one of these fireplaces, with its glazed, sliding doors turning the fire into a semi-closed stove.  Figure 4 of Mitchell's patent is a cross-section of one of these fireplaces, showing how the hot gaseous products of combustion ("smoke") circulated through the hollow spaces within its castings, turning the whole thing into a radiator and much more efficient heating device than an open fire.

Hartshorn, Oliver S. & Payson, Henry M., and Ring, Aaron.  Portland. Combined Stove. 4732. 1846. 126/58.

A very functional (i.e. plain and unadorned) space heater, with a coal-fired furnace C on top of a common sheet-iron wood-burning heating stove A.  The smoke-pipes are at the rear; the vertical columns D would also increase the device's efficiency by transferring heat into the room.  This stove looks like one that was both made and used, but whether it was bought is another story.  Aaron Ring was a serial inventor and litigant, who (like Nathan Winslow) moved away from stove design into food-canning and other ideas in the 1840s.  By his own account, he was the actual inventor of the stove, which Hartshorn and Payson had bought from him.  Hartshorn was in a good position to try to sell it: he was one of at least eight stove and caboose dealers in Portland by mid-century [pp. 73, 76, 94, 111, 150, 261-2, 334-7].  Payson ran a hardware store in the city from 1846 until he went bankrupt in 1849 and left town to pursue an eventually much more successful new career, so when he bought his share of Ring's design he must at least have expected to be able to make money on it. 

Unfortunately there is no evidence about how long or successfully the attempt to sell this stove continued.  In Hartshorn's advertisement in the city directory for 1850 the stove he chose to advertise was a much more conventional, and presentable, type.  Interestingly, all of the stoves that other Portland dealers advertised were also bought-in designs, emphasizing that, even as the Maine stove market had matured, it had become simply an offshoot of the national market, with few distinctive or home-grown designs.

This is the message of the 1856 Maine Register, and Business Directory too: the state was by then full of stove and tinware dealers (130) and iron dealers and founders (65), some of whom had specialized in stove making.  But the only two display advertisements were for a leading national firm (Chilson of Boston) and the most important maker in Maine, Wood & Bishop of Bangor.  Wood & Bishop did have some stoves which were probably their own design, or at least that they had bought in and rebranded to appeal to local consumers (e.g. the Our State Cooking Stove, the Penobscot Air Tight and the Penobscot Valley).  But the designs they chose to illustrate were definitely bought in: Henry Stanley's Green Mountain cooking stove, and the Roger Williams from Rhode Island.


Well, what is to be added?

(a) A problem with the Maine patents is that -- I am sure -- they give even less of an impression of what was being sold and used within the state than the Vermont or New Hampshire lists.  But working out what was in the market -- from the evidence of advertisements, in particular -- is difficult.  From New Hampshire, we have evidence about the local production and, in the 1830s, consumption of stoves designed by Woolson, Skinner, and Moore, in particular.  From Vermont, we have something even better -- evidence, including archival, about the two most important inventors and entrepreneurs (John Conant and Henry Stanley), and abundant newspaper coverage (mostly dealers' advertisements) of the developing market for stoves, as Vermont turned, between the 1830s and 1840s, from a net producer to a net consumer of stoves and stove designs.  But for Maine there seems to be nothing apart from the patents themselves and whatever scraps of information can be extracted from local histories, except for the surviving correspondence from two Portland stove merchants for the 1820s and 1830s.  There are hardly any city or town directories; and as with New Hampshire, there are no free online newspaper collections.  What is to be done?  Either nothing, or I'll just have to bite the bullet and subscribe to an online newspaper archive (probably Genealogy Bank, which seems to have the best collection).

(b) Even in the absence of this sort of contemporary evidence -- and it's obvious that there's going to be so much stuff there that I won't be able to resist the temptation for ever -- there are conclusions I can reach about what the patents, such as they are, tell us: about the character of patentees; about the nature of what they invented (or more usually "invented"); about what this tells us about the transition from open-fire to stove use in northern New England.  Maine seems to me to have generated even fewer viable patents than either of its neighbours -- Winslow's, Parshley & Furbish's, and perhaps Hartshorn, Payson, & Ring's, all of them produced by or for stove dealers, are about the only candidates.

(c) This applies to all three states: it's worth thinking about the predominance of cooking stoves, especially those for wood fuel, among the devices patented, and known to have been sold.  This is not surprising, but it is interesting that there is such a bias among inventors, especially in the 1830s, towards one stove type, the flip side of which is their almost entire absence of attention to categories of stoves preoccupying inventors in different areas of the north-east (notably the Philadelphia region, the Hudson Valley, and the cities along the north share of Long Island Sound).

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