When Benjamin Franklin invented his “Franklin Stove” he published a pamphlet along with it telling everyone the benefits of his stove, how it was made, as well as how to use it. The Governor of Pennsylvania offered him exclusive patents for his stove. Franklin declined, he wanted other people to adapt it for their own saying “That as we enjoy great Advantage from the Inventions of Others, we should be glad of an Opportunity to serve Others by any Invention of ours, and this we should do freely and generously.[1]

The most well known adaptation of the Franklin Stove came to be known as the “Rittenhouse Stove” named after the astronomer David Rittenhouse. [2] While the Franklin stove had not been that good of a seller when manufactured, the Rittenhouse stove sold quite well, and became a common site in Philadelphia. This adaptation is actually the stove that most people mean when they say “Franklin Stove.”[3] Other scientists and inventors who came after Franklin adapted the stove as well, often times forgetting to cite the original source for the stove. Rittenhouse’s stove differed from Franklin’s because it was an open stove, meaning one could see the fire within. The other adaptations included the sharply angled back plate of the stove which radiated more heat into the room, the way they shaped the sides of the stove also used less metal and thus the stove was less expensive than the Franklin Stove, it also changed the chimney into the shape of an ‘L.’ [4]

[1] Edwin S. Gaustad, Benjamin Franklin (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006) 35.

[2] I. Bernard Cohen, Benjamin Franklin’s Science (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), 209.

[3] Ibid, 209-210.

[4] Priscilla J. Brewer, From Fireplace to Cookstove: Technology and the Domestic Ideal in America (Syracuse, NY: Syracuse University Press, 2000), 47-48.

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