The purpose of the Franklin Stove was mainly to provide heat, although some light was given from it. Any antecedents would serve either of these purposes. Fire itself was a an antecedent as it provided both warmth and light. As time went on humans learned how to control the flames and outdoor firepits became common. Eventually fire was brought into the home and people had to contend with getting rid of the smoke created by the fire and so they created chimneys to channel out the smoke and ash.

These open faced fireplaces with chimneys were the most common in England and United States in the 1700s. To the British it was more a visual pleasure than anything. [1] However, the fireplace also served as a way to cook food, provide light, and heat. Unfortunately, most of the heat was carried out through the chimney and lost to the people in the room. Several wood stoves existed in Benjamin Franklin’s time and he writes about several of them in his pamphlet about his stove. One used to heat large assembly halls was called the “Holland Stove” or the “Six Plate Stove.”[2] This was a version of a closed-stove, which meant that people could not see the fire inside.


[1]   Seymour Stanton Block,  Benjamin Franklin, Genius of Kites, Flights and Voting Rights (Jefferson, NC: McFarland & Co, 2004), 109.

[2]   I. Bernard Cohen, Benjamin Franklin’s Science (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1990), 203-204.

Image Citations

Arun Marsh, Fire, December 26, 2008. Flickr (Accessed 3/30/2011).

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