"Research" your tile stove

We who are behind this site are ourselves the owners of a tiled stove that is almost 100 years old. It's a simple, white, smooth tiled stove that was rescued 25 years ago from an abandoned station house by a wise old man. Saved from dying the death of demolition, it then had to find itself vegetating in old banana boxes under a summer cottage before we bought it. Now it sits proudly in the place of honor in our old house and now it is the one that saves us - away from sudden cold snaps when the old heating boiler doesn't keep up.
Included in the purchase was unfortunately no picture of the tiled stove from when it was installed in the stintsvilla, but we got curious and finally managed to get hold of two old, black and white pictures – not of the tiled stove in its original place, but at least pictures of it at the station and the early 20th century Stinsvilla, with charming old locomotives outside.

Tip! These old, beautiful photos, of the house where our tiled stove once stood, we framed in elegant leather frames and they now adorn the wall next to the tiled stove at our home. Many of our guests curiously ask about the pictures. It gives added value to know the history of your tiled stove and it can also be decorative in this way - tiled stove art!   

Do you want to find out more about your tiled stove? Here are some tips:

If you bought a house with an existing tiled stove and wonder how old it is, etc.?

  • Yes, first of course you can think about whether it is original since the house was built or not. The style can provide some guidance on this.
    But the safest thing to do is to turn to the local cleaner. If the previous owner has had the tiled stove built according to all the rules of the art - and in reasonably modern times - then he/she has submitted a building notification to the municipality. When you do that, the building committee wants to have back an expert certificate that the work has been done correctly. You usually get that certificate from the cleaner. The cleaner's documentation also includes inspection reports including test pressure of the new oven (so you know it doesn't leak). In that case, both the municipality and also the cleaner should have documentation of when the oven was installed.
    The sweeper should also have documented follow-up inspections, which are done at intervals of a few years. Contact the building board/local cleaner and ask for copies of such info. At best, it also shows which company built the tiled stove.
  • But even if the work was done a long time ago, long before modern building regulations, the odds are good that the sweeper has documentation.It is a bit fascinating that we in Sweden have been so good at registering and documenting everything throughout the centuries. Just think of the church records where you can follow generations back to the Middle Ages if you are lucky and patient.
    If you are lucky enough to live in a place where the same sotar company has existed for a long time and the archives are in reasonable order, you can also get bingo on your tile stove research. It is well worth ringing up the cleaner to find out if there is any information about the tiled stove in the property where you live!

If you buy an old tiled stove:

  • The very best opportunity to find out more about a tiled stove is, of course, at the time of purchase. Ask ask ask! Even if it's been a long time since the tile stove was purchased, don't hesitate to track down the person who sold it if you have contact information and ask questions. The vast majority are just delighted by the interest and want to contribute as much as they remember.
  • Find out as much as you can about its history, to preserve its history and because knowing a little about its background adds an extra dimension to ownership! In addition, it also actually increases the value of the tile stove in monetary terms.
    Where is it manufactured? Where has it been? How old is it? When was it taken down? Who took it down? Why?

If you know where your tiled stove comes from:

  • If you buy the tiled stove from someone who has taken it down: take a picture of the house where the tiled stove has been, if possible.
  • If the house has been demolished, which is a common reason why the tiled stove was taken down in the first place, then there will be research to do instead. It doesn't have to be so time-consuming at all, and is often very exciting. 
  • Ask a kind librarian if a picture of the house you are looking for could be found in any book at the local library. The chances increase, of course, the fancier and more famous the villa was. But even if it was a simple house, it may remain for other reasons. Station buildings, for example, are often immortalized, as are schools, shops, mission houses, lodges, the barbershop, the courthouse... well, the kind of houses that were a bit "public".But don't hesitate even if your tiled stove's first home was a simple worker's villa. You never know!
  • Call the municipality's switchboard and explain your case and you will probably be able to speak to the municipality's archivist. It is very likely that it is a person who finds it exciting and fun to research old houses, and who wants to help you with a detective assignment like this if he or she only has the time. Maybe the house is among all the municipality's old pictures? If you're lucky, it's also a municipality with order and order, and such an image can be searched for on the street address or property designation in a snap! Otherwise, you may be able to get contact details of someone who can sit inside with such a picture you are looking for.
  • An alternative could be to go to Tradera.  www.tradera.com  As a search term, simply key in what you are looking for, for example "Stadshotellet Västervik".If you're very lucky, you'll find a picture from someone who wants to sell an old postcard (which is exactly what you see an example of below: Västervik's city hotel) or a painting or a book...Or just choose the name of the town if it's not that big, or the neighborhood or the street. If you're lucky, there is a picture from the surrounding area where "your" house might happen to be included!
  • Another way could be to Google the same keyword and see what comes up. If nothing else, you might find information that might lead you to someone who might have such a picture.   

If you don't know where your tiled stove comes from:

  • If you have a taken-down, not assembled, tiled stove, look for markings in the mill on the inside of the tiles. You can look for such a label in the literature and, if you're lucky, you can derive it that way.
  • A possible variant is of course to try to research by asking previous owners of the house. If you're lucky, it's the same owner who has lived in the house since it was new and knows exactly! But the risk is, of course, that the house has had many owners and that the information has been lost over the years.
  • When you want to know where and when a tiled stove was made (and if the previous owner has not been able to provide an answer), a lot depends on how it looks. If it has a very special pattern, a connoisseur can immediately say "aha, that one was made by Gustavsberg year so and so!!!" If the tile stove has such a distinctive pattern, you can also look for it in one of the books available on tile stoves. A book that is really valuable in this context is called "Den realka kakelugnen"; read more about this under book tips . There are many pictures of different types of tile stoves from many factories.
    Of course, you could also contact one of the large tile stove factories (Rörstrand, Gustavsberg, etc.) for sure who know if it is one of theirs, but who might also have a clue as to who the manufacturer is.
  • If, on the other hand, your tiled stove is completely white and a little simpler, it was very common and it will be more difficult to derive it. Mmaybe there is a local tile stove maker where you live that you could bring pictures to and ask? In the best case, it is an old company that even has an archive that shows how their production has looked over the years!
  • Are there other old houses in the neighborhood that have similar tile stoves? Can those homeowners sit in with more information?
  • A possible way to find out more about the local tile kiln manufacturing could also be to inquire at your local museum which may know of old tile kilns and have archival material showing what they produced. Stockholm's Stockholm county museum, for example, has an incredibly useful site about, among other things, the history of tile stoves and typical expressions of the time. http://stockholms.lans.museum/byggnadsvard/kakelugn.cfm?in_idnr=169
  • You know for sure what year the house was built, and can try to form an idea of whether the tiled stove is original. Here at Alltomkakelugnar.se, you can read more about the period-typical styles that show which era a tile stove comes from.
  • One last and - we admit - very long-sought idea: have you ever looked UP the tile stove? Some tile stove makers have a tradition of leaving behind a small letter or piece of paper showing who built it and when. Then of course you should be lucky, but who knows... Sometimes you just have to!

We at Alltomkakelugnar.se wish you the best of luck with your research!   

The city hotel in Västervik