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“The Stove Trade Needs Change Continually”:: Designing the First Mass‐Market Consumer Durable, ca. 1810–1930

Howell John Harris
Winterthur Portfolio
Vol. 43, No. 4 (Winter 2009), pp. 365-406
DOI: 10.1086/648372
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1086/648372
Page Count: 42
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Abstract

Cast‐iron stoves for heating and cooking became ubiquitous features of the American home by the middle of the nineteenth century and remained an important domestic technology into the early twentieth. Their makers invested a great deal of effort into the design of their goods, whose consumers expected stoves to be both visually attractive and useful. There was an enormous variety of stove models and increasingly rapid superficial change but also technological convergence and stylistic consensus. The article explores this apparent paradox and explains it by focusing on the comparatively few men who designed most American stoves in the industry’s heyday.

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