A beautiful Welcome Globe antique stove
The royal blue color of the stove caught my eye immediately. As big and noble as it was, it was still partly hidden behind an oak table that obscured its full beauty.
But the colors just stood out in the dimly lit antique mall, which I came across in Georgia over the holidays while I was visiting my family. It is one of several items that I stumbled across on a few antiquing jaunts last week, and I’ll be writing about them this week.
At the Yesterday’s Antique Market, every booth seemed to have been dressed up for Christmas with the hands and eyes of a very good interior designer. These didn’t seem to have been done by dealers with little talent for style or decoration; the items were draped and hung and placed strategically to impart a certain feel and atmosphere. They exuded warmth and homeliness.
The booth with the royal blue antique stove wasn’t much different, but the stove itself needed room to breathe – and show itself off.
A sign on top of a chrome shelf told me what it was:
Rare Blue Welcome Globe Stove. Nickel Plated Trim. Original Firebox Clay. March-Brownback Stove Co. Pottstown, PA. (Disassembles for Transport).
The stove was in remarkably good condition for its age, and the owner had placed vintage cooking items atop it, including an old kettle, spoon and small brass pot.
I could imagine it in a large kitchen – not necessarily for use (the sign also noted that the stove was an “Exceptional Decorator Piece”) but to add a specialness to the space. It would bring a smile to my face every time I’d enter the kitchen.
With such a lovely item, I obviously wanted to know more about the maker, and my first search turned up inquiries from owners with a March Brownback stove who were looking for the same information. They apparently didn’t find much and neither did I, but I kept looking.
I found a salesman’s sample of a small Brownback stove, along with a traveling case and original brochure, that sold at auction last year for $425. A porcelain sign for the company’s furnaces and stoves sold at the same auction for $1,400.
So, its name and products are still popular – as they apparently had been since the mid-1800s. The man behind the company was James Brownback, who came from a family that had found its way from Germany in the 17th century and became one of the most noted citizens of Chester County, outside Philadelphia, according to an 1895 book on prominent citizens of Montgomery County, PA.
Brownback bought an interest in a stove foundry in 1868 called March, Lisle & Co., which itself had been around since 1848. The partners moved the company to Pottstown, PA, in 1891 and incorporated it as March Brownback Stove Co. He was selected president, and made it one of the most prosperous and well-respected manufacturers of ranges and other such products. By 1895, the company employed 150 men, as the book noted, indicating its success.
He later bought and sold a furnace company, was a director of a land company and held stock in a textile company. “Politically, Mr. Brownback was an ardent Republican and an uncompromising protectionist,” according to the book.
The company, apparently like other stove manufacturers, produced engraved catalogs of its products. The 1902 book “Sanitary and Heating Age” mentioned the company’s Catalog 54 offerings. The book noted that the company had been making ranges for 54 years, offered under the “generic name Globe with the prefixes Electric, New Victor, Rival Victor, New Welcome, Expert Welcome, New Prize and Prize” that burned coal or wood.
The company also made warming closets and pipe shelves, furnaces, and heating stoves, according to the 1902 book. The Bright Crown stove used soft or hard coal, and was nicely illuminated in mica on the front and sides with nickel decoration, along with some cheaper heaters. Oak heaters included the Crown Oak and Prize Oak, which had an “artistic cast iron front.”
The company is said to have stopped making stoves in 1946.
I could find none of the Brownback stoves for sale on eBay or elsewhere, so I’m not sure what they are worth. The asking price for the Welcome Globe stove at the antique market was around $2,400. If you have one, here’s a blog post I wrote about how to determine the worth of your items.