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Tuesday, July 13, 2021

Articles and Chapters about the Stove Industry, 2008-2012 (directly on) & c. 2000-2007 (somewhat related)

This is the old index page from my Stove History website.  In due course I'll move the individual pages it references here, too.  Helps to explain why, after 2006, I didn't feel much need to keep writing "Research Notes" to and for myself -- by then I was getting into a position to write proper papers for academic seminars and conferences, and to turn them into publishable work.

The Albany & Troy Stove Industry, from Start to Finish: 1808-1936 (September 2006)


The Albany & Troy Stove Industry, From Start to Finish: 1808-1936

Number of active firms per year -- data from this spreadsheet.

I have been trying to add the text from this old research note (dating from September 2006) in my effort to bring all of my stove-related material into one place rather than spreading it between this blog and my old Stove History website, but Blogger doesn't want to cooperate -- everything copied and pasted in from Google Docs seems to bugger up the formatting and produce error messages.  So I will satisfy myself with this placeholder for now.  

The above chart summarizes the story: two periods of very rapid growth in the number of active stove-making and -wholesaling firms, the first after the completion of the Erie Canal, the second after the recovery from the economic uncertainties of decade between the end of the early Jacksonian boom and the Mexican War; then overall stability, punctuated by crises before and after the Civil War; then, from about 1880, a slow decline as the stove industry and its market shifted South and West, and that market was eroded by new fuels and technologies (gasoline and kerosene, manufactured and natural gas, for cooking and some heating; oil for domestic heating; and electricity).

This particular research note came at the end of a summer of compiling as much quantifiable data as I could find in order to go beyond anecdotes in setting out an overall framework for my research on writing on the history of the stove industry and its products -- in this case, using its principal manufacturing centre from the 1830s through the 1880s as a rough proxy for the nation as a whole.

Monday, July 12, 2021

The Stove Industry in 1892: Original "Working Paper," September 2006.

This is another of the old research notes that I wrote, principally for my own benefit, during the summer vacation of 2006, which I spent in gathering together lots of quantifiable information so that I could provide some scaffolding of facts in numerical form for the story of the stove industry that I was planning to put together.  My second research trip to the USA on stove-related business had been during the Easter vacation, so I knew that I could not look forward to another one until Spring or late Summer 2008, and decided to use my time at home to good effect, reading new stuff and making more sense of what I had already.

My attempts to import the text from the Google document in which it has been available via my old Stove History website have been defeated, so far, by Blogger's apparent inability to do so without completely screwing up the format.  So, for the moment, this post is just a placeholder and a collection of pointers:

The Stove Industry in 1874: Original "Working Paper," September 2006.

Stovemaking Cities and Towns, 1874, grouped in descending order of annual output:
RED = leading centres with top 25 percent of production (Troy, Philadelphia, Albany);
YELLOW = second quartile; GREEN third; BLUE fourth.
For the original zoomable map of which this is a snapshot, click here.


Stoves & Patents: Original "Working Paper," August 2006-.

This is another trip down Memory Lane -- digging up one of my earliest "working papers" on the history of the stove industry and placing it here rather than only accessible as a document file via my old website.  It doesn't make sense to keep stuff in different formats, and really the website has had its day.  Many of the numbers underpinning this report are now out of date -- for example, I have long completed my patent database with post-1873 design patents -- but incorporating the greater accuracy that took me so long to achieve would probably make only a marginal difference to the look of the overall results, certainly when represented in chart form.  

It's interesting, for me at least, to see what I knew just a couple of years into my serious research, and how much I got right about it at the time.  Compiling a patent database of my own from Source Translation and Optimization™'s lists of patents, organized by principal classification (freely available online almost twenty years ago) and also Paratext's much more detailed version of the 1790-1873 patent record, which was only available to me for a precious few weeks on a free-trial basis, was my most important route into understanding the industry and its products.  This would be obvious to anybody who looked at one or more of my four published articles about this subject, or many of the posts on this blog.  As sources they're not without their problems, especially as all I have to work with are the published versions of patents, not the archival records behind them, but even within those limitations they are full of possibilities.

Sunday, July 11, 2021

The Naming of Stoves -- Albany and Troy, New York, 1875-1876

This is a bit of a historical relic, almost 15 years old and a product of my very early days (or at least years) of concentrating on the history of American stoves and their makers in the C19th. I had not done much primary source research in manuscript materials by then, nor had I written anything for publication. So I decided to use my personal website to "publish" (there was very little evidence that anybody ever stumbled across it) bits of writing that I felt like doing just to give myself some practice and force myself to think a bit more about the meaning of some of the data I was piling up.

I am only coming back to exhume it now because I have just revisited this topic as I got the opportunity at last to expand the body of evidence on which it was based. I had known even in 2006 about the existence of modern copies of the National Association of Stove Manufacturers' 1876 List of Stove Names and had tried to purchase one from its producer, Clifford Boram, a US stove collector. But for some reason he never got around to replying. So I had to do the next best thing, working with a list of names created by the manufacturers of Albany and Troy, then the main center of stove design and production in the United States and published in the trade magazine The Metal Worker. Now, thanks to the generosity of John Handley, a British stove enthusiast with transatlantic interests who had his own copy of the NASM list, I have been able to add literally thousands more stove names and other details to my 2006 database, and will have to think again about what, if anything, they mean. But my earlier thoughts are probably still a good place to start.