Those who now enjoy the fullness of this greatest of modern household conveniences, have little knowledge of the [… film scratched ...] with the culinary department in an era that is yet within the memory of some of our oldest citizens. Perhaps it may add to their appreciation of it to go back a little in the history of its progress. In the day of small things when the foundry business was carried on by Neel & Allen and by Mr. Cooper and by Cuthbert & Co. and by the late Thos. Pollock, it would have been an impossibility to manufacture such stoves as we have now. In that day iron was melted in the primitive air furnace, the modern cupola with its powerful machine blast was unknown. One can scarcely believe that within the memory of living persons the very existence of coal in the hills around this city was unknown, or if known, it was to but few.
Wood was the only fuel used both for heating and cooking purposes and the kitchen fire place was nearly of the dimensions of a small bedroom. The great brick oven and the iron Dutch oven were the perfect arrangements of that day for baking and roasting, and they roasted the cook’s almost as much as the meats. Any of our modern cooks who are obliged temporarily to cook on a grate, regard that institution as an invention of the evil one. What then must have been its power to destroy the peace and happiness of our tidy grandmothers who were compelled to use it for a long time, for the ever increasing scarcity of wood admitted of nothing else? Every want stimulates invention to supply it, and the first step toward the modern cook stove was a sort of iron oven placed at the end of the grate. For some time a sickly sort of happiness was afforded by that improvement, but we may say that even such meager comfort was lost in the first stoves that came into use. These early specimens were not much either for beauty or utility; they were ill looking and more ill constructed small in size and great in imperfections. Some of them smoked and gave the kitchen the appearance of a lampblack factory; others would not bake, and they all burned too much coal. These imperfections were not surprising when we reflect that the stoves were made in the same establishment and by the same workmen who molded plough points, wagon boxes, dog irons and all the odds and ends of iron mongers, usually made in such establishments. All perfection comes by means of specialties, and to the fact that Joseph Bell & Co. has given their exclusive attention to the stove business, is Wheeling largely indebted for her favorable reputation in this line, and we, for the Arlington Stoves, written in 1874.
This antique charcoal oven was made by Wheeling and measures 12 inches wide by 11 inches long by 10 inches high. It has molded seams and riveted corners and a hinged door with a turn lock closure. The inside has 2 metal grates and a drip pan and the bottom of the oven is open to be placed over wood or charcoal for cooking. The bottom of the sides has 2 circular holes for venting. The front of this piece has, “Wheeling” embossed into the metal and the entire outside is blackened in color with the smell of coal or wood. The inside racks have rusted and I have not tried to restore this piece in any way.