The oldest styles to French cooking stoves included manually-crafted ones that were custom-designed according to user specifications; these worked typically by using alcohol burners and were, for the most part, movable around the home. Thus practicality and functionality were the buzz words for the first French cooking stoves besides being buyer-friendly in form.
Initially designed for home-use, French cooking stoves took to being specially created for bistros, medical health-care units as well as army-use, since they gave full-on heating benefits during cold winter months that warmed the heart and hearth.
The best and most durable type of French stoves had a cast iron finish to them so they could have better capacity to withstand high temperatures and heat rooms fully; lining was essentially refractory brickwork while hinged doors, splayed feet and ornate top plates were other classic features to them. Usually, the oven maker’s name was engraved on the cartouche.
Among the most popular designs of old-style French cooking stoves was the one coming out of Ardennes around 1900 to 1930, which became a collector’s item; deep brown enamel finish, intricately designed front-opening door and the use of mica for the windows (for added shine) were some elements to these types of French cooking stoves that ignited using coal, coke or bits of wood. By the 1920’s, the size of the French stoves increased to fit in the double-cooking plates on top and design upgradation of engraving works followed; top mounted flue was also evident in changing design patterns.
Other varieties of French cooking stoves included those without windows that had a side-fuel filling design, some with stippled color designs, others were fancier with ornate carvings and deco work, but the rugged cast iron variety of yore stood its ground well beside these up-market Faunus stoves. Of course, if you speak of the classic French stoves designs, the ultimate were Limogenes and Godinette; the first was made of delicate porcelain and had a lustrous, deep-red color hand-painted with a brass trimmings to the finish. The second, the fancy Godinette (named after its maker, Godin) was made of green enamel in the 1930’s, in the Alsace region that also gave the world the ceramic style oven; it’s beauty was the immensely beautiful design much akin to the French furniture motifs and the manufacturer used clay cast into small molds that was fitted around the firebox made of cast iron!
The last featured on our classic French cooking stoves list, is the Mexico stove that was named thus, due to the bright Mexican motif of an Aztec Indian’s facial profile set in blue enamel plinth; it measures 3 cm. in height, is 47 cm wide with a body of 30.5 cm. Its flue size was 8.3 centimeters while its average estimated heat output ranged from 5 to 7 kW.
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