Cast Iron Stoves

Location, location, location. These three words  summarize the strategy of success for Albany’s and Troy’s cast iron stove industry in the nineteenth century. Iron smelting furnaces, used to produce the iron for cast iron stoves, relied on three main ingredients: charcoal, iron ore, and limestone. All three resources were found locally and were transported to Albany and Troy through the region’s well-developed transportation systems. Charcoal was produced in Albany and iron ore came from the Adirondack region to the north and Columbia and Dutchess Counties to the south. Limestone, also quarried locally in eastern New York, was the third ingredient used for smelting iron. Known as flux, it separated impurities from iron ore in the furnace. By heating charcoal, iron ore, and limestone together, the resulting molten iron could be used for castings or could be sold to fineries for further processing.

The task of making cast iron stoves required a skilled workforce that included pattern makers, molders, furnace operators, finishers, and others. Pattern makers derived many their designs for stoves from published architecture and pattern books that illustrated examples of neoclassical columns and pediments, gothic arches, and rococo revival scrolls. Human figures derived from illustrated novels and gift books also decorated stove panels. The stove makers of Albany and Troy were known for casting extravagant works that combined a mixture of historical styles like the four-column parlor stove made by John Morrison of Green Island Stove Works, Troy, New York.

 

Magnifying Glass
Parlor Stove
John Morrison Green Island Stove Works, Troy, New York
1844
Cast iron
Collection of the Albany Institute of History & Art, 1977.18
Magnifying Glass
“Eagle Furnace, Steam-Engine, Machinery, & Stove Works” Broadside
Designed by Elijah Forbes
Printed by J. H. Hall, Albany, New York
c. 1845
Lithograph on paper
Albany Institute of History & Art Purchase, 1980.8