Celebrating the "Lost Cause": a Neo-Confederate Stove, 1869
A couple of weeks ago [24 April 2018], a member of the Antique Stove Collectors' Facebook Group posted about a stove he had found in a ditch in Port Royal, VA. It was made by (or for) a Baltimore firm I had never heard of, Conklin & Willis, but its name and iconography were, to say the least, immediately arresting. Four years after the end of the Civil War, and in a state that had remained in the Union, Conklin & Willis were patenting, making, and selling a stove they called the "Stonewall," marked with the arms of the state of Virginia, and embellished with a medallion showing one person in classical dress standing over the dead body of another, and still carrying the unsheathed sword used for the. This image is accompanied by the slogan "Sic semper tyrannis," and is a version of the seal and official motto of the Commonwealth of Virginia adopted in 1776. But these words had more recent connotations to -- they figured in the pro-Confederate song "Maryland, My Maryland," popular with secessionists and pro-Southerners in Maryland during the Civil War, and now the state's official song, and they were shouted out aloud by John Wilkes Booth in Ford's Theater on 14 April 1865, just after he had shot President Abraham Lincoln. This otherwise unremarkable old cooking stove certainly bore its bitter heart on its sleeve.