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There are many different types of antique stoves. Some of these stoves are named after their shapes, such as pot belly stoves, cylinder stoves, column stoves, and box stoves. Other common styles of antique stoves include base burners, Franklin, and parlor stoves. Some of the later antique stoves were designed to run on natural gas or propane.
Most antique stoves were made of cast iron. Some were designed to burn wood, and some were designed to burn coal. A few styles were designed to burn either fuel source. Antique stoves were used for both cooking and heating, and some styles were designed to be more proficient at one activity than the other.
The potbelly stove was named for its round shape and had a bulge in the middle. Pot belly stoves were made of cast iron and designed more for heating than cooking, although food could be cooked on the top. They were used to heat homes, schoolhouses, depots, general stores, and train stations. Potbelly stoves were the source of heat in many historic buildings and were a common feature of Americana.
In 1742, Benjamin Franklin invented what he called the Pennsylvania stove, later called the Franklin stove. Before this, people heated their homes using fireplaces, which used a lot of wood and were inefficient. Franklin created his freestanding stove out of cast iron made to resemble a fireplace. This Franklin stove used less wood and heated buildings more efficiently than a fireplace.
Box stoves were commonly used in the middle of the 19th century. They received their name from the shape of the rectangular firebox. Box stoves were used mostly for heating, but were also used for cooking.
Cylinder stoves became popular in the latter part of the 19th century. These antique stoves were used as central heating systems in businesses and homes. They were capable of burning either wood or coal, and their cylindrical design took up less floor space than many other models of antique stoves.
Parlor stoves were also used for heating, and were available in both large and small styles. They were capable of burning either wood or coal. Some models had burners on the top so that they could also be used for cooking, but heating remained their main function.
Column stoves were a later design of the parlor stove. These antique stoves had rectangular fireboxes that were similar to a box stove. Column stoves took their name from the vertical flues, or columns, which rose above the firebox and were connected at the top.