Collecting Articles and Features

Antique American-made Miniature Stoves Collectors’ Delight

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Collectors of antique American-made miniature stoves are in for a real treat. These little beauties were made by some of the top toymakers of their time, and today they are highly sought after by collectors. If you’re lucky enough to own one, you know just how special they are. In this blog post, we’ll take a look at some of the most popular brands of antique miniature stoves from the late 19th century to the 1920s, and we’ll learn about some of the companies who made them.

Introducing Antique American-made Miniature Stoves

For the collector of American-made miniature stoves, there is no greater prize than an antique. While some mass-produced models can still be found, it is the handmade examples that are most prized by collectors. Each one is a unique work of art, with its own intricate details and charming features.

The history of the American miniature stove dates back to the early 19th century, when they were first created as playthings for children. It wasn’t until the late 1800s that they began to be mass-produced by toy companies such as Kenton and Hubley, and by the early 1900s there were dozens of companies making them. However, the Great Depression put an end to most of these businesses, and with the rise of electric ovens from the 1920s, the manufacture of cast iron toy stoves declined even further.

These diminutive replicas of 19th-century stoves are carefully crafted from metals such as brass, iron, and tin. Many are painstakingly detailed, with realistic features such as doors that open and shut, removable lids, and ash pans. Others are more whimsical in design, with colorful enamel finishes and fanciful flourishes.

Some Famous Brands of Antique Miniature Stoves

The majority of the early toy stoves were designed by stove manufacturers like The Philadelphia Stove Works, which created the Little Fanny Stove; and J & E Stevens of Cromwell, Connecticut who manufactured a stove called The Rival.

Philadelphia Stove Works the Little Fanny Stove
A Philadelphia Stove Works the Little Fanny Stove in excellent order and never used. Sold for $750 on ebay, June 2011.

While there are many different brands of antique miniature stoves, we look at a few brands in particular that stand out for their quality and uniqueness.

First on the list is the American-made Arcade Manufacturing Company. Founded in 1885, the Arcade Manufacturing Company produced some of the most intricate and well-crafted miniature stoves of the time. Their designs were often inspired by full-size cast iron stoves, and many of their models featured detailed relief work and other ornate embellishments.

Cussing was founded in 1868 by John Cussing, an enterprising tinsmith from Connecticut. Cussing’s first miniature toy stove, the “Cooker,” quickly became a best-seller. The company went on to produce a wide variety of other miniature stoves over the years, including several that were designed to look like real-life appliances. Many of Cussing’s stove models are now highly prized by collectors.

Kenton Toy Company The Pet Toy Stove
A Kenton Toy Company The Pet Toy Stove. Sold on ebay for $166, March 2022.

The Kenton Toy Company was founded in the late 19th century, and soon became known for its high-quality toy stoves. The company’s most popular product was the Pet Stove, a miniature stove that was designed to look like a real wood-burning stove. The Pet Stove was made from cast iron and was painted to resemble a real stove, complete with a chimney and flue. The stove had four tiny burners that could be lit with a match and came with a set of miniature pots and pans. The Kenton Toy Company continued to produce the Pet Stove until the early 20th century. Today, the Kenton Toy Company’s Pet Stoves are highly sought-after by collectors and can fetch hundreds of dollars at auction.

Were Miniature Stoves Samples or Toys?

Antique American-made miniature stoves can be found in a variety of sizes and styles, from simple cast-iron models to more ornate tin or brass stoves. While most were undoubtedly made as toys, it is possible that some were actually salesman samples. These diminutive stoves would have been the perfect way for a salesman to demonstrate the features of a full-sized stove without having to lug around a bulky piece of equipment. In addition, the small size of the stoves would have made them easy to transport from one store to another.

Antique American-made Miniature Stoves Price Guide / Value Guide

Late 19th century American-made Miniature Stoves in excellent order and having the potential to work can range $600-$800 for  a Philadelphia Stove Works “Little Fanny” to $3000-$4000 for one of the most desirable for collectors the J & E Stevens “The Rival”. Condition is very important and as many of the stove could actual work most are in a lesser condition. Factors affecting the variance in price include: the maker, size and style and the level of detailing on the stove. We include a few examples in the article along with their value at auction.

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