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Ten Plate Stove

Isabella Furnace
Place Made:
Shenandoah County Virginia United States of America
Date Made:
cast iron
HOA: 37; WOA: 37 7/8; DOA: 15 1/4
Accession Number:
DESCRIPTION: Cast iron ten-plate stove, signed ISABELLA FURNACE on both side plates. Below the doors on both sides are floral-scrolled oval cartouches surrounding a relief representation of the Battle of Lake Erie; this scene is surmounted by an inscribed banner whose motto is illegible. Both sides and ends are swelled, the corner rims blocked and horizontally reeded. The end plate is decprated with a basket of flowers surmounting an elaborate Adam pendant of garlands; each corner of the panels has a patera. The front plate over the fire door bears the legend at the top PERRYS VICTORY with SEPt 10, 1813 at the bottom; an angel blowing a trumpet, surrounded by 18 rosettes or stars, is in the center of the upper portion of the front plate.

DATE: The ten-plate stove is attributed to the Redwell Furnace, located near present-day Luray, Virginia, durings its ownership by Benjamin Blackford (1767-1855). Blackford had acquired the furnace by 1812 and named it after his wife, Isabella Arthur (1765-1837). The Blackford family bible documents “Mrs. Isabella Blackford, wife of B. Blackford departed this life January 24, 1837 at Isabella Furnace.”

The 1820 Manufacturer’s Census for Shenandoah County, Virginia, lists “A Blast Furnace called Isabella on Hawksbill Creek…making use of 2700 Tons of Ore, 216,000 bushels of charcoal and 140 tons of limestone, at an annual cost of $12,600, employing 92 men, 45 women, and 25 boys and girls, with use of a water wheel and 2 bellows for blowing the furnace.” It noted that, “the establishment as to its buildings & conveniences is not inferior to any in the United States and will make the present year 300 Tons of Castings of different kinds & about 250 Tons Pig Metal.”

DESIGN: The “Battle of Lake Erie” scene is related strongly to the same scene in compositon work occuring in interior architecture in Philadelphia and Baltimore, associated with Robert Wellford, a compositon and ornament manufacturer of Philadelphia, ca. 1801-1839. The scene occurs on the mantel of a room in Winterthur from the Peter Breen house of Philadelphia, which was built by Wellford for himself.

Credit Line:
MESDA Purchase Fund