Today in Philadelphia we are in the low 70s which is great news for those who do not enjoy 90 plus, high humidity days. You can feel Fall trying to push its way in.
The colder days are coming and it reminded me of one of our antique barn finds. I remember seeing it for the first time just before I climbed up a tall ladder in the back barn to see what was making strange noises in the storage loft… my wife did not see it, she was busy running frantically back the house.
Our potbelly stove was near the base of a ladder and was coated with mysterious debris. My climb to the top revealed that the debris came from our disgruntled “neighbors” awakened in the loft from all the excitement of our treasure hunting. Our furry, black eyed, neighbors were trying to get some sleep for another night of scurrying and foraging in the neighborhood trash cans.
Potbelly stoves were a staple in America for many years. Schools, hotels, stores, train stations, and even trains themselves used these dependable, durable stoves for heating.
Our potbelly stove came from a company called, “The Wehrle Company. It was founded by J.C. Wehrle and John Moser c1883 in Newark, Ohio. Wehrle produced close to 1400 potbelly stoves a day in the height of production.
The combination of a durability and mass-production results in many potbelly stoves being available today. However, the more ornate, extravagant stoves were made in lesser numbers and can sell for much more then the common everyday potbelly stoves.
The Wehrle Company changed it’s name in 1939 to Newark Stove Company. Then, during the Second World War, was purchased by Sears who ultimately sold it to Roper Corp. in 1964.
Made of cast iron, they radiated heat burning wood or coal.
Not surprisingly, many of these stoves have missing pieces and accessories. Fortunate for us, we still had the ash door and the inner grates which are most sought after by collectors. That’s why the gentlemen who bought our stove drove all the way from Delaware to pick it up.
Our Wehrle potbelly stove was in good condition but did not escape some damage. The front right leg had a significant break. After moving it around several times, I found that the leg design was flawed as the legs were loose from bearing all the weight. This is something to remember if you come across a potbelly stove and need to move it.
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