Buying a Wood Stove

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Buying a wood stove could entail finding a battered but serviceable unit in need of restoration, or a sleek, new — and relatively expensive — model like this one.

Consumer Reports doesn’t rate old stoves, so if you’re thinking of buying a wood stove you’re on your own. The market is wide open from fine antiques to scrap metal. Old wood stove prices will vary depending on age and style and knowledge of buyer and seller. Most of the finest examples were scouted out from barns and country antique stores back in the 1970s. They were refurbished and sold to enhance the Victorian decor of elegant big city homes. Still, now and again you can find a grand old “Parlor Andes Magnificat” with its isinglass windows and finial topped with a statuette of Venus on the half shell — for a price.

A well-made iron parlor stove from the 1880s or earlier with ornate castings, a lot of bright work, and complicated draft controls — all in perfect condition — will sell for $2,000 and up (and up!). A similar-grade kitchen range will cost half that again and more, though a broken down, rusted, over-fired version of the same stove is worth about 50¢ per pound. A turn of the century soapstone or antique iron parlor stove in good condition will cost $700 plus. A gas or coal range of the same vintage in black iron or porcelain enamel over iron will cost $2,500 and up. A 1920s porcelain range in good shape will go for $500 to $1,000. Less ornate, workaday potbellies and factory or railroad stoves sell for $500 or so in good shape — down to scrap value if broken down. Franklins and little cylindrical railroad stoves go for $100 to $450 if in good shape.

Old log burners, Fatsos, camp stoves, and other utilitarian iron and iron/tin stoves aren’t often found in prime condition. Thin and cheap to start with, they were fired to death and discarded. A half-beat but still serviceable one might be worth $75. A pristine old model is worth a little more than a modern reproduction, perhaps $250.

Modern-era stoves are priced much the same as the old-timers. A superb Scandinavian twin-column Morso will cost $1,000 or more. Well-made iron Franklin-style stoves go for $500 to $700, and big steel stoves for $400 to $500 — if made in the U.S. or Europe. Taiwanese copies sell for approximately two-thirds to one-half the price.