Cast With Style: Nineteenth-Century Cast-Iron Stoves

During the nineteenth century Albany and Troy, New York manufacturers were considered to be among the largest producers of cast-iron stoves in the world. Stoves made in these two upstate New York cities were renowned for their fine-quality castings and innovations in technology and design. The strategic location of Albany and Troy, located nine miles apart on opposite banks of the Hudson River, afforded easy and inexpensive transportation of raw materials to the foundries, and finished stoves to worldwide markets.

Cast-iron stove making reached its highest artistic achievement and technological advancements between 1840 and 1870. Flask casting and the advent of the cupola furnace permitted more elaborate designs and finer-quality castings. Stove designers borrowed freely from architectural and cabinet-makers design books, a process that resulted in the use of Greek, Roman, Egyptian and Rococo revival motifs; patriotic symbols, and lavish floral designs, all reflecting current taste and sentiment Stove types produced included Franklin, box, dumb, base-burner, parlor, cook stoves and ranges and parlor cook stoves. However, the stoves that attracted the most attention and helped to secure the reputation of Albany and Troy, as innovators in technological and decorative designs were the column parlor stoves produced during the 1830s and 1840s. These stoves were a focal point for a Victorian parlor because the overall designs incorporated current tastes in architecture, furniture and other decorative arts.

The decline of the stove industry in Albany and Troy began slowly after the Civil War, when companies went back into full production and glutted the market. Also, new deposits of iron ore were discovered in the Great Lakes region, and entrepreneurs were quick to see the potential of large western markets and began building foundries in Chicago and Detroit. As the century closed, the demands for iron were shifting toward steel.

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