During the nineteenth century, Albany and Troy 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, only 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 stovemaking reached its highest artistic achievement with the advent of the cupola furnace, which permitted more elaborate designs and finer-quality castings. Stove designers borrowed freely from architectural and cabinetmakers, design books, a process that resulted in the use of Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and rococo revival motifs, as well as patriotic symbols. The range of stove types included Franklin, box, dumb, base-burning, parlor cook stoves, and ranges. However, the stoves that attracted the most attention and helped to secure the reputation of stoves were those 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 Albany Institute of History and Art is nationally known for its excellent collection of nineteenth-century cast-iron stoves, and some of the finest pieces from that collection are featured in this classic volume.
Tammis K. Groft is Deputy Director for Collections and Exhibitions at the Albany Institute of History and Art. She is the coeditor (with Mary Alice Mackay) of Albany Institute of History and Art: 200 Years of Collecting.
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