Your Guide to Buying an Antique Stove

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Your Guide to Buying an Antique Stove

Antique stoves are not always easy to find and shopping for one can be difficult. This buying guide is designed to help consumers shop for antique stoves. It provides resources for locating retailers that sell antique stoves, including a list of manufacturers. There are tips for navigating auctions sites like eBay, which makes it easier to find a specific antique stove among the hundreds of listings on the site. Also, read about the different types of antique stoves that are available and find out what to look for when buying one online.

History of Antique Stoves

The first stoves created in Middle Ages were made of earthenware tiles or ceramics and were created for palaces in Europe. Most of these early stoves had decorative features. Since they were able to absorb heat readily and easily transfer it to the surrounding environment, ceramic stoves were generally very good at heating a room. Ceramic stoves were soon to be replaced with cast iron stoves though. One of the notable advances in heating occurred in 1744 when Benjamin Franklin invented the Pennsylvania Stove, which utilized fresh air to radiate heat and reduce smoke in a room. Brass and copper were used to make stove parts such as knobs, doors, while nickel was a common material for plating. By the end of the nineteenth century, cast iron stoves would feature enamel.

Discover Antique Stoves

Antique stoves heat a room, usually by burning wood, coal or gas. Some antique stoves run on electricity, or, can be converted to use electricity. These stoves are usually considered antiques because of their vintage design and age. Some are still in working condition and those that are used for display purposes only can be restored to run on modern day gas and electric systems. Independent retailers, through shops or websites, sell many of these stoves. There are hundreds of listings featuring antique stoves on eBay.

Parts of Antique Stoves

Antique stoves consist of many parts including the front door, firebox and flue. Below is a list of the various parts that make up an antique stove.




The chamber containing the fuel source (wood, coal, etc.) and fire. Usually made of iron.


Metal tray with spaces between the bars. Air flows through the spaces to reach the coal.


Collects the ash from burning coal and wood.

Riddling Mechanism

A lever on the exterior of the stove that moves the grate. It is used to shake the ash that is stuck between the grate bars. 


A pipe or chimney that carries the exhaust and smoke from the burning wood or coal. 

Front Door

Opening for the stove. It swings open, usually on a hinge.

Draft Control

Maintains a constant flow of air into the stove.

Types of Antique Stoves

There are several types of antique stoves available to choose from.





Base Burner

Large, tall stove that is elaborately decorated and made of cast iron.

Ÿ  Cook lids and rear burners can be used to prepare food, whilst also heating the home.

Ÿ  This stove requires a lot of space.


Tall stove with a rounded body and small door windows. The top is shaped like a dome and capped with a finial

Ÿ  Cook lids can be used to humidify rooms

Ÿ  Will look out of place surrounded by more modern interior design. 

Pot Belly

Barrel-shaped stove with a bulging centre.

Ÿ  Increased surface area of ribbed body augments increased heat output.

Ÿ  Wood and coal burning stove only. Can be converted to gas or electric.


Cast iron, rectangular-shaped stove with detailed carvings and ornate scenes.

Ÿ  Firebox can be opened from the top or side.

Ÿ  Despite its smaller size this type of stove can still be expensive.

Small Parlor

Also known as 4 o’clock stove, it is smaller than the standard parlor.

Ÿ  Great for warming small rooms

Ÿ  The heat quickly dissipates due to small size.

Franklin Fireplace

The first freestanding, open face fireplace was invented by Benjamin Franklin.

Ÿ  Cleaner and efficient alternative to a standard home fireplace

Ÿ  Design offers a full view of fire

Ÿ  Has a shorter burn time than other antique stoves.


The column stove features an extended circulation system. It is ornately decorated with Victorian elements.

Ÿ  The stove’s extra surface area increases heat output.

Ÿ  The columns are unattractive.


Box-shaped stoves designed with floral elements or patriotic images.

Ÿ  Small size makes these stoves ideal for bedrooms.

Ÿ  Box stoves opens only from the side.

Factors to Consider When Buying Antique Stoves

There are several things to consider when buying antique stoves. Here is a brief list.

  • ŸHeating vs. Cooking - Most antique stoves are designed to heat a room or house. They are rarely used to cook food as well. But there are a few antique stove designs that incorporate cooking elements, including a cook lid and extra burner. Consider whether or not any cooking will be done with the stove before buying it. A stove without a cook lid or extra burner will reduce the price and the size of the stove.
  • ŸSize - The size of the stove is another factor to consider. Most antique stoves are fairly large and made of heavy iron. Check the burn time for each stove to determine how much heat it will produce. Large rooms require more heat output than smaller rooms.
  • ŸFuel Type - Consider the type of fuel the stove needs to operate. It could be wood or coal. Antique wood burning stoves feature a flat base on which the wood burns. Coal-burning stoves burn coal or anthracite. A multi-fuel stove can burn either wood or coal. Antique stoves can be converted to use gas or electricity. Check with the antique stove seller to see if they offer this service.
  • ŸCondition - Most antique stoves will have some rust, but stoves that are heavily rusted should be avoided. Another concern is cracks. The stove may be useless and dangerous if the firebox is cracked. Also, check the trim. Too much corrosion may require the trim to be re-plated.

Typical Features of Antique Stoves

Antique stoves are known for their design, radiant fire and wood burning.

1.  Design

Antique stoves are large, bulky stoves made primarily from cast iron. They feature classic American style or Victorian elements, depending on where they were manufactured.

2.  Radiant Fire

Most antique stoves generate a radiant fire that is visible through a series of openings in the door. The appearance of the fire in the antique stove creates a warm, inviting atmosphere in any room.

3.   Wood Burning

 Moat antique stoves generate heat by burning wood.

How to Care for Antique Stoves

The surface of an antique stove is likely to wear down over time. The signs of age are easily spotted. Rust and corrosion are two things that can ruin the appearance of a stove and if left untreated, it may damage the underlying metal. In extreme cases, the surface may need to be re-plated. One way to remove tarnish from antique stoves is by applying a metal polish and scrubbing it with a steel wool. Missing glass panes from the stove door can be easily replaced.

If the antique stove is damaged, it can be restored by a professional. Some of the services offered by a professional restorer include welding cracks, fabricating missing parts, sand blasting, painting, enamelling, and lining a stove with firebrick.

Accessories and Add-ons for Antique Stove

There are several useful accessories for antique stoves.

  • Grates - Metal tray with gaps between bars that hold wood and coal.
  • Fireplace Poker - Long metal rod used to break-up charred coal and wood.
  • Vent Hose - Connects to the flue of stove to vent exhaust and smoke.
  • Log Basket - Metal carriage that holds wood pieces.
  • Thermostat - Measure the temperature in the stove.

Finding Antique Stoves on eBay

After determining the type of antique stove to purchase, visit the Antiques Category portal on eBay, click on ‘Architectural Antiques’, then click the box for ‘Stove/Wood Burners’ under Sub-Type and start searching item listings. The Categories list on the left-hand side of the eBay page helps to narrow the search.

Searching for Antique Stoves on eBay

Search eBay listing titles for specific words when shopping for antique stoves. For example, to find a wood-burning antique stove type ‘antique wood-burning stove’ into the search box, and then click the Advanced button to customise the results. Also visit eBay’s Search Tipspage for more advice on searching for antique stoves with keywords. Can’t find a specific antique stove? Try shopping eBay Stores.


There are several types of antique stove available on eBay including the base burner, Franklin fireplace and parlor stove. After finding the right stove, review its details. The product listing page on eBay contains valuable information including the price, shipping details and product description. Know exactly what the seller is offering before making a purchase. Also, review the return policy for the antique stove. After collecting this information, you can buy antique stoves safely and securely on eBay


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