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Stove Collection A Walk Through History
Dennis Gunsolus has collected and restored heating and cook stoves for nearly five decades. He has more than 200 19th and early 20th Century stoves in his collection, and they’re far from ordinary. They include the most rare art stoves ever built in the U.S.
Currently the stoves fill his basement and are part of the décor in his Duluth, Minn., home. At 73, Gunsolus is starting to think about the future of his stoves.
“The collection is like a chronology almost from the beginning of stoves. It’s important that the collection stays together for that reason. It includes the best column stoves, cooking ranges, and art stoves and it shows how they evolved,” Gunsolus says.
His passion for stoves ignited in the early 70’s in Oregon, when he was traveling on his motorcycle after getting out of the Air Force. An antique shop owner where he worked got him interested in buying, restoring and selling stoves. Through careers in math, medicine and contracting, he continued to collect, selling the common stoves and keeping the best ones.
“I was just fascinated by the workmanship of the stoves. It was important that workmanship and art could be put into such a functional piece of equipment as a stove,” Gunsolus says.
Artists spent up to two years carving patterns out of hickory for stove designs. For example, his Art Westminster 402 stove is from a pattern carved by Italian artist Carlo Abruzzi. It includes fine filigree designs on the cast iron and an illustration of two men on green tiles. With only four stoves in existence like it, it’s very valuable.
When he looks at his stoves, Gunsolus remembers some of the adventures he had while chasing them down. When a collector sent him a photo of an 1886 Art Acorn stove in Utah that was for sale, Gunsolus thought it was a joke at first.
Because of its perfect original condition, he considers it the Holy Grail of the 1880’s art stoves. It has a prominent place in his living room.
With all those memories and the work collecting, restoring and maintaining, Gunsolus is considering the future of his collection. He has no children to pass it on to, so he has talked to curators of the top museums in the country about giving them the stoves. There has been interest, but not enough to meet Gunsolus’ request.
“I don’t want them to break it up and sell some pieces. It’s important that it stays together,” he says.
He invites museums or individuals interested in meeting those terms to contact him.
Contact: FARM SHOW Followup, Dennis Gunsolus, Duluth, Minn. (ph 218 525-1526; moleye111@gmail.com).

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2021 - Volume #45, Issue #3