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Fascinating facts about the invention of the
Franklin Stove
by Benjamin Franklin in 1742.

In colonial America, most people warmed their homes by building a fire in a fireplace even though it was kind of dangerous and used a lot of wood. Benjamin Franklin rectified this unsafe method of heating by inventing, in 1742, the cast-iron stove, or what he called the Pennsylvania Fireplace and we know today as the Franklin Stove. The appliance allowed people to warm their homes less dangerously and with less wood.
Invention: Franklin Stove
Franklin stove courtesy Franklin Institute
Function: noun / Named after its inventor Benjamin Franklin.
Definition: A cast-iron heating stove shaped like a fireplace but employing metal baffles to increase its heating efficiency; used to warm, farmhouses and homes for more than 250 years
Patent: Franklin never patented any of his inventions
Inventor: Benjamin Franklin
Benjamin Franklin image courtesy Franklin Institute
Criteria; First to invent. First practical.
Birth: January 17, 1706 in Boston, Massachusetts
Death: April 17, 1790 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Nationality: American (of English descent)
1742 Ben Franklin invents the open stove or Pennsylvania Fireplaces
1744 Ben published a pamphlet, "An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces"
1772 David Rittenhouse improves Franklin’s stove by adding an L-shaped chimney
1790 The improved Franklin stove became an integral piece of Americana.
1795 Benjamin Thompson's stove design uses a slanted fireback and adjustable flue damper
1800 Cast-iron stoves become more popular as different manufacturers improve upon the design
CAPs: Franklin stove, Benjamin Franklin, Robert Grace, David R. Rittenhouse, Pennsylvania Fireplace, Rittenhouse stove, Governor Thomas, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces,
SIPs: open stove, freestanding fireplace, invention, history, inventor of, history of, who invented, invention of, fascinating facts.
The Story:
In colonial America, most people warmed their homes by building a fire in a fireplace even though it was kind of dangerous and used a lot of wood. Franklin rectified this unsafe method of heating by inventing the iron furnace stove, or what he called the Pennsylvania Fireplace and we know today as the Franklin Stove. The appliance allowed people to warm their homes less dangerously and with less wood.

In 1742 Ben designed a cast-iron stove that was freestanding. It could heat rooms more efficiently than wall-bound fireplaces. Unfortunately, he designed it so the smoke would come out from the bottom. Since smoke rises, this made it impossible for his original stove to work properly. But, even with this major flaw it was better and safer than previous methods.

Governor Thomas, even offered to give Franklin a patent for the sole right of producing and vending them. However Franklin declined because he believed that peoples appreciation of his invention was better then any financial reward. He wrote in his autobiography, "As we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously"

Benjamin Franklin, a genius by anyone’s standards, was satisfied that he had invented an open stove for the better warming of rooms, and at the same time saving fuel . Both of the goals that he wanted to accomplish with his invention. Franklin gave the plans and a model of his open stove to Mr. Robert Grace, one of his early friends, to manufacture. Grace had an iron-furnace and found the casting of the plates for these stoves a profitable thing, as they were growing in demand. 

To promote that demand, Ben wrote and published a pamphlet in 1744, entitled "An Account of the new-invented Pennsylvania Fireplaces"; In it Franklin described how the stove was to be constructed and operated, as well as it's advantages over other methods of warming houses.

By the late 1780’s, David R. Rittenhouse.had redesigned the stove by adding an L-shaped chimney. Quite reasonably, he called it a Rittenhouse stove.  But legend has its prerogatives; the device is known to this day as the Franklin stove. By 1790, the improved Franklin stove was in wide use and became an integral piece of Americana.

In 1795, Benjamin Thompson, Count Rumford, publishes a article on fireplace construction. His simple design, which uses a slanted fireback and adjustable flue damper, sets the standard for modern fireplaces.

Cast-iron stoves become increasingly popular as different manufacturers improve upon the earlier designs of Franklin and other inventors. This competition for business, along with the development of electricity, gas appliances and central heating, leads to the eventual decline of the traditional fireplace as a functional necessity for the home. Even today, more than 250 years later, you can find Franklin stoves in use around the world. 


Benjamin Franklin Biography    from The Great Idea Finder
History of Household Items    from The Great Idea Finder

Why Didn't I Think of That?: Bizarre Origins of Ingenious Inventions We Couldn't Live Without
by Allyn Freeman, Bob Golden / Paperback - 260 pages / John Wiley & Sons; (September 1997)
Filled with wacky and fascinating facts, awe-inspiring success statistics, and rags-to-riches stories, Chronicles the odd origins behind 50 famous inventions and reveals the business side of each product's actual production, marketing, and distribution.

Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin
by Benjamin Franklin / Buccaneer Books / 1996
His descriptions of life of the times and his adaptations to it provide us with a personal peek at American history through the eyes of one of our country's greatest founders--a printer, inventor, statesman, and intellectual.

Benjamin Franklin's Science
by I. Bernard Cohen / Paperback: 288 pages / Harvard University Press; Reprint edition (1996)
Provides masterful accounts of the theoretical background of Franklin's science (especially his study of Newton), the experiments he performed, and their influence throughout Europe as well as the United States. A supplement by Samuel J. Edgerton considers Franklin's attempts to improve the design of heating stoves

What's The Big Idea, Ben Franklin?
Jean Fritz / Hardcover: 48 pages / Putnam Publishing Group (June 1, 1976)
A brief biography of the eighteenth-century printer, inventor, and statesman who played an influential role in the early history of the United States.

The Way to Wealth
by Benjamin Franklin / Hardcover (November 1986) / Applewood Books

No Harvard MBA would be complete without the wisdom contained within this little book. A captivating story line with principles and nuggets of truth just leaping off of the page.
Poor Richards Almanack
by Benjamin Franklin / Hardcover - 96 pages (November 1983) / Peter Pauper Press

Printed at intervals from 1733 through 1758, this bright, lively, and sly almanac contained agricultural predictions, charts of the moon's phases, and, in Franklin's words, "entertaining remarks."
Ben Franklin's 12 Rules of Management
by Blaine McCormick, Neil Shigley (Illustrator) / Paperback - 200 pages (2000) / Entrepreneur Media

Pulled from his autobiography, this entertaining and thought-provoking book explores the innovative management principles Franklin pioneered and reveals how today's business owners and managers can use those principles effectively. 
Benjamin Franklin, Genius of Kites, Flights and Voting Rights
by Seymour Stanton Block / Paperback: 266 pages / McFarland & Company (July 2004)
This unconventional biography of Benjamin Franklin, the great American Renaissance man, explores examples of Franklin’s diverse genius and accomplishments in different fields

Benjamin Franklin: Citizen of the World
DVD / 1 Volume Set / 50 Minutes / Biography Channel / Less than $25.00 / Also VHS
Benjamin Franklin's fascinating and diverse accomplishments defined him as a Renaissance man who will be forever enshrined in America's pantheon of heroes. He discovered electricity, invented the fuel-efficient Franklin Stove, and authored the still popular Poor Richard's Almanac.


Benjamin Franklin's Inventions
A list of Benjamin Franklin's inventions reveals a man of many talents and interests. It was the scientist in Ben that brought out the inventor. His natural curiosity about things and the way they work made him try to find ways to make them work better.

Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography
Known today as "The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin," this classic piece of Americana was originally written for Franklin's son William, then the Governor of New Jersey. This reprint is from the original electronic text distributed by Project Gutenberg. POP-UP ADS.


The Stove: Wherever Did it Come From?
Benjamin Franklin was a genius by anyone’s standards, but he made a big mistake with his invention. He designed his stove  The stove was later redesigned by David R. Rittenhouse and was in wide use by the 1790s. Article by Marjorie Dorfman
Builders News Magazine
David Rittenhouse later redesigns the wood burner with a proper flue, but it remains known as the Franklin stove. Timeline history of fireplaces and stoves.
Ben Franklin and His Inventions
Though it was an ingenious invention and had potential, there was one small problem in the design of Franklin’s stove. Franklin knew that warm air expanded, but did not know that warm air also rose. A Study in Deductive Reasoning- by Erin Maloney

The Invention Dimension: Invention of the Week
It took David R. Rittenhouse, another hero of early Philadelphia, to improve Franklin's design by adding an L-shaped exhaust pipe that drew air through the furnace and vented its smoke up and along the ceiling, then into an intramural chimney and out of the house.

Benjamin Franklin: A Documentary History
The beginnings of a biography on Benjamin Franklin. Lots of links to sources for this chronological work.
Lots of COOKIES at this site.

Benjamin Franklin
At about the same time Franklin established America's first fire insurance company. He also organized a night watch and a militia to keep peace and provide safety for the residents of Philadelphia. An A+ Essays Original Paper, written by Weird.
Benjamin Franklin - the Science Years
At age 42, Franklin retired from the printing profession. He then devoted his time to other studies, especially science. These were very productive years in his life, bringing him world-wide fame as a scientific thinker.
The Franklin Stove
Franklin rectified this unsafe method of heating by inventing the iron furnace stove, also know as the Franklin Stove. The appliance allowed people to warm their homes less dangerously and with less wood. A student ThinkQuest project.
Modern Frankin Stove
Designed by Ben Franklin, this early model affords users a complete, uninterrupted view of the fire. You can use this stove where a traditional fireplace is unavailable.Plenty of Frankin stove pictures.
History Corner: David Rittenhouse (1732-1796): Dean of Early American Men of Science
Among Rittenhouse's other science-related activities were an improvement on the Franklin Pennsylvania Fireplace, which he called, the Rittenhouse Stove. Article by Silvio A. Bedini for Professional Surveyor Magazine.

That, as we enjoy great advantages from the inventions of others, we should be glad of an opportunity to serve others by any invention of ours; and this we should do freely and generously. " - Ben Franklin. in turning down a patent for his Pennsylvania Fireplace.


  • After Ben invented the Frankline stove. Ben also established the first fire company and the first fire insurance company in order to help people live more safe.

Designated trademarks and brands are the property of their respective owners.
Reference Sources in BOLD Type. This page revised March 10, 2006.

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