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Collecting Stove Nameplates

12 reasons to consider collecting stove nameplates.

| October 2014

  • A typical abandoned small cook stove with lids and one leg missing, and the bottom sheet metal rusted away.
    Photo by Clell G. Ballard
  • The more expensive cook stoves had temperature gauges on the oven door. They rarely survive in decent shape. A real find is a worthless stove from which a collector can salvage the nameplate with a still-presentable gauge.
    Photo by Clell G. Ballard
  • Originally nickel-plated, this nameplate is still attractive in a rustic way. Decorative nuts that hold it to the oven door will be lost because the only way to remove it is to chisel off the screw heads from the back side.
    Photo by Clell G. Ballard
  • A typical abandoned small cook stove with lids and one leg missing, and the bottom sheet metal rusted away.
    Photo by Clell G. Ballard
  • Small stoves such as this one — missing the grate, lids and one back leg — still make attractive lawn planters. "The Fuller-Warren Co. Milwaukee-Wis. Laundry No. 48" is easily read in the stove’s cast iron front lip.
    Photo by Clell G. Ballard

Most individuals have only a limited amount of space that can be dedicated to hobbies and collectibles. That means a person sometimes has to forego larger items and focus instead on smaller, related ones. In the automotive area, cars, trucks and tractors take up so much room that scale models are often collected instead.

Branching off from that, some specialize in collecting associated accouterments like oil cans, spark plugs and hood ornaments. The hunt for and discovery of an elusive example of a smaller collectible can be just as exhilarating as finding the large ones.

I didn’t set out to collect stove nameplates. However, as a historian I enjoy looking through any accumulation of old “stuff.” My main interest lies in the automotive realm but almost every location where some old car, truck or tractor is found also has the remains of other human activity.

Abandoned farmsteads are an excellent example. Everyone needed a kitchen range and/or a heating stove and those are often still lying around. At such sites, some unique nameplate would catch my eye and I quickly learned that if I turned over what looked like it used to be a stove, I’d often find a nameplate. The plates’ creative designs captivated me and it just didn’t seem right to walk away and leave them.

After saving a few, it dawned on me that a display would be worth making. That spurred an interest in collecting more. The change from casually noticing them while looking for something else to actually having an eye out for them resulted in two changes in behavior.

First, even if no automotive possibilities are available, I make an effort to look through remains of other ancient “stuff” when the opportunity presents itself. Second, I began carrying a small hammer and chisel on such excursions. That prevents the great frustration earlier experienced when a choice nameplate was available but I was unequipped to remove it from what it was attached to. More than once it was understood that what I wanted to salvage was due for disposal before I could return with proper tools.


Farm Collector April 16Farm Collector is a monthly magazine focusing on antique tractors and all kinds of antique farm equipment. If it's old and from the farm, we're interested in it!

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