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Antique Cast Iron Stove Values: An Expert Collector‘s Guide for 2023

Antique cast iron stoves are highly sought after collectibles that can range in value from a few hundred to tens of thousands of dollars. These functional works of art, originally used for cooking and heating homes in the 18th and 19th centuries, are prized for their craftsmanship, history, and beauty. As an expert collector and restorer of antique cast iron stoves for over 30 years, I‘ve compiled this comprehensive guide to help you understand the market and determine the value of these fascinating collectibles.

The History and Evolution of Antique Cast Iron Stoves

The history of cast iron stoves dates back to the early 18th century, with the first known example being made in Lynn, Massachusetts in 1642. However, these early stoves were primarily used for heating, not cooking. It wasn‘t until the Industrial Revolution in the late 18th century that cast iron stove technology advanced and designs proliferated.

One of the most famous early cast iron stove designers was Benjamin Franklin, who created the innovative "Franklin stove" in 1741. This stove featured a hollow baffle to transfer more heat from the fire, and an air intake to control the burn rate. The Franklin stove became widely popular and inspired many imitations and variations.

The 19th century saw an explosion of ornate cast iron stove designs, particularly in the Victorian era. Stoves of this period often featured elaborate nickel plated trim, mica windows, and detailed castings. Some stoves were even adorned with porcelain tiles or hand-painted designs. Major manufacturers of the era included Griswold, Bridge Beach & Co., Detroit Stove Works, and others.

Here is a table summarizing the typical features and value ranges of antique cast iron stoves from different eras:

Era Typical Features Value Range
Early 1800s Simple designs, minimal ornamentation $2,000 – $20,000+
Victorian (1837-1901) Elaborate designs, nickel plating, mica windows $1,500 – $15,000
Early 20th Century More streamlined designs, fewer embellishments $500 – $5,000

Factors Affecting Antique Cast Iron Stove Values

There are numerous factors that impact the value of an antique cast iron stove. Some of the most important considerations include:

1. Age

As a general rule, the older the stove, the more valuable it will be. Stoves made before 1900, particularly those from the early to mid 1800s, are the most sought after by collectors. The earliest known surviving cast iron stove, a German five-plate jamb stove from 1728, sold at auction in 2010 for an incredible $68,500.

2. Rarity

Rarity is another major factor impacting value. Limited production stoves, unusual designs, or models from short-lived manufacturers will often command a premium. For example, a rare cast iron stove featuring the face of Abraham Lincoln, made by the short-lived William Jackson Furnace Company around 1870, sold at auction in 2007 for $34,100.

3. Condition

The condition of an antique cast iron stove is critical to its value. Most antique stoves will show some wear from use and age, but those that are free of any cracks, missing parts, or severe rust are the most desirable. Stoves that have been expertly restored can also be highly valuable.

"The difference in value between an antique stove in original good condition versus one that needs complete restoration can be fivefold or more," notes antique stove restorer Marcus Hammond. "Many collectors are willing to pay a premium for a stove that‘s ready to display."

4. Manufacturer

Certain manufacturers of antique cast iron stoves are more highly prized by collectors due to their quality, design, and innovations. For instance, stoves made by Griswold, Glenwood, and Bridge Beach are often more valuable than those from less prominent makers.

5. Special Features and Ornamentation

Antique stove models with unique features like warming shelves, water reservoirs, or temperature gauges will often be more valuable than basic models. Likewise, stoves with ornate nickel plated trim, decorative tile, or mica windows tend to be highly desirable.

Notable Antique Cast Iron Stove Sales

To give you an idea of the upper end of the market, here are some examples of notable antique cast iron stove sales in recent years:

  • A rare cast iron stove featuring the face of Abraham Lincoln, made by the William Jackson Furnace Company around 1870, sold for $34,100 in 2007.
  • An ornate J.L. Mott "Defiance" cast iron cooking stove, circa 1880, sold for $21,000 in 2006.
  • A Glenwood Model K cast iron cook stove in pristine restored condition, circa 1920, sold for $14,000 in 2019.
  • A Griswold "Steamboat Gothic" cast iron parlor stove, one of only two known to exist, sold for $11,500 in 2012.

While these high-end sales are not typical, they demonstrate the potential value of the rarest and most desirable antique cast iron stoves.

The Antique Cast Iron Stove Collector Market

The market for antique cast iron stoves is driven by a relatively small but passionate group of collectors. A 2020 survey by the Antique Stove Association found that the average age of collectors was 58 years old, and 78% were male. Many collectors are drawn to the historical significance, craftsmanship, and beauty of these functional antiques.

"Collecting antique cast iron stoves is more than just a hobby for me, it‘s a passion," says collector Jim Baker. "Each stove tells a story and represents a piece of American history. I love researching the different manufacturers and models and the thrill of finding a rare gem."

While the antique cast iron stove market has remained relatively stable in recent years, prices for the most sought-after models have continued to climb. "We‘ve seen a steady increase in values for high-end antique stoves over the past decade," notes appraiser Diane Miller. "Rare stoves in excellent condition that may have sold for $10,000 a decade ago could fetch $20,000 or more today."

Reproduction and Fake Antique Cast Iron Stoves

As with any high-value collectible, there are reproduction and fake antique cast iron stoves on the market. Some reproductions are high-quality pieces in their own right, made using traditional methods and designs. These stoves will often be marked as reproductions or "nouvelle" but can still be quite valuable.

However, some unscrupulous sellers may try to pass off a reproduction stove as an authentic antique. To avoid getting fooled, carefully research the specific model and manufacturer and inspect the stove for signs of age and wear. Modern reproduction stoves may have a more uniform surface texture or lack the patina of an authentic antique.

If you‘re unsure about the authenticity of an antique cast iron stove, consult with an expert appraiser or restorer. They can help verify the age and origin of the stove and spot any red flags.

Restoring an Antique Cast Iron Stove

If you‘re considering purchasing an unrestored antique cast iron stove, it‘s essential to factor in the potential cost and effort of restoration. A full restoration can easily cost $1,500 – $5,000 or more, depending on the stove‘s condition and complexity.

"Restoring an antique cast iron stove is a labor of love," says restorer Keith Nelson. "It can involve disassembly, sandblasting, welding, and countless hours of cleaning and polishing. But the end result is a beautiful, functional piece of history that can be enjoyed for generations."

If you‘re handy, you may be able to do some of the restoration work yourself. However, for more complex issues like welding cracks or reproducing missing parts, it‘s best to leave it to a professional. Improper restoration techniques can permanently damage an antique stove and drastically decrease its value.

Resources for Antique Cast Iron Stove Collectors

If you‘re interested in learning more about antique cast iron stoves and connecting with other collectors, there are numerous resources available:

  • The Antique Stove Association (ASA) – A membership organization for antique stove collectors that publishes a quarterly newsletter and hosts an annual convention.
  • Antique Stove Price Guide – A comprehensive guide to antique stove values, with over 1,000 models and photos.
  • Antique Stoves by Richard Richardson – A detailed reference book on the history and identification of antique stoves.
  • "Good Time Stove" by Richard Wright – A comprehensive guide to restoring antique stoves, with step-by-step instructions and photos.
  • Antique stove dealers and restorers – Specialty dealers and restorers can be excellent resources for information and advice. Some of the top names include Barnstable Stove Shop, Antique Stove Hospital, and Good Time Stove Co.

By connecting with other collectors and experts, you can deepen your knowledge and appreciation for these fascinating pieces of history.


Antique cast iron stoves are more than just functional appliances – they are works of art that represent the ingenuity and craftsmanship of a bygone era. Whether you‘re drawn to the austere beauty of an early 1800s stove or the ornate designs of a Victorian model, these collectibles offer a tangible connection to the past.

By understanding the factors that impact value, such as age, rarity, condition, and manufacturer, you can make informed decisions as a collector. And by properly caring for and restoring these treasures, you can ensure that they will be enjoyed for generations to come.

As with any high-value collectible, it‘s essential to do your research and consult with experts when evaluating an antique cast iron stove. But for those who are passionate about these functional works of art, the rewards of collecting are immeasurable.

"Antique cast iron stoves are not just a hobby for me, they‘re a passion," says collector Susan Jameson. "Each one has a unique story and character that you can‘t find in modern appliances. They‘re a piece of history that I can display and enjoy every day."

Whether you‘re a seasoned collector or just starting to explore the world of antique cast iron stoves, I hope this guide has provided valuable insights and inspiration. Happy collecting!