This collection of metal artifacts was recovered from the grounds of Bonniebrook, the home estate of the illustrator, artist, and suffragette Rose O’Neill, who was also the creator of the Kewpie doll. While this collection consists of relatively mundane objects, identifying these objects, the brands and types of objects used, and the dates for when they were produced and used can give us considerable insight into the time period and the quality of life led by Rose O’Neill and her family.
All of the objects in this collection consist of functional parts of cast-iron, wood-burning stoves, which were widely popular both for heating homes and for cooking until the end of the 19th century. While they were eventually replaced with central heating and with electric and gas cook top stoves and ovens, these functional and decorative stoves continued to be made and sold throughout in the early to mid-20th century, with some even still being in use today.
In this collection, the gracefully decorated stove door and rectangular panel would have functioned as doors, either providing access to the interior firebox, so that coal or wood could be added, or providing access to an oven; the panel fragment, meanwhile, was more likely a non-functional decorative side piece on the stove.
The stove legs would have raised up the main body of the stove from the floor, creating a more graceful furnishing as well as perhaps protecting the floor, and allowing more heat to radiate into the room; the more elaborately decorated legs were likely placed on the front of the stove, while simpler legs would have been placed on the back.
Unlike the other pieces in this collection, the chimney flue damper was not decorative, but a part of the interior mechanism of the stove, serving to regulate the air flowing through the chimney.
For more information, you may contact the researcher(s) noted in the title of this exhibit entry, or Dr. Billie Follensbee, the professor of the course, at BillieFollensbee@MissouriState.edu