Although cast iron ovens were becoming an option for open hearths in the late eighteenth century (see previous post), cast iron had been put to other uses early on, not only for cookware like pots and pans but for other more complicated products, and for export, as this ad from the Pennsylvania Gazette in 1769 attests.
“Iron Castings Of all dimensions and sizes, such as kettles or boilers for pot-ash works, soap boilers, pans, pots, from a barrel to 300 gallons, ship cabooses, kackels, and sugar house stoves, with cast funnels of any height for refining sugars, weights of all sizes, grate bars, and other castings for sugar works in the West Indies, & are all carefully done by Henry William Stiegel, iron master, at Elizabeth Furnace in Lancaster County, on the most reasonable terms. Orders and applications made to Michael Hillegas in Second Street, Philadelphia will be carefully forwarded.”
Elizabeth Furnace referred to in the ad was an “iron plantation” in Pennsylvania and, because of the remarkable preservation of many of the original structures and the archeological work that has taken place there, is an invaluable source of information on iron production in colonial America. Read more about this complicated process here.
Looking for evidence of the beginning of iron stoves for kitchens I found this ad that appeared in the Boston Gazette in 1770 that mentioned cast iron cannon stoves. But these, it is clear from the illustration below, were not the kind of stoves that would likely be used in a family kitchen. (The derivation of the term eludes me; perhaps the shape resembles a cannon.)
Benjamin Andrews’ ad states that a large version would be “suitable for a vessel’s cabbin” —I somehow never stopped to think about how one might keep warm or cook on a ship. The ad further states that the stove might serve in “the room of one or more Persons, who are inclined to be upon the saving order; as besides the advantage of their heat, with very small expence of fuel, they are fitted for various methods of cookery.” (I am inclined to be upon the saving order!) Finally, “the smaller are of a less size and price, and better suited for shops, &c. than any heretofore made in this country.” And if you don’t want to buy a stove Mr. Andrews has many other items for sale among them: chocolate, ground ginger, and crown soap.