Historical information

Cast iron stoves burn solid fuel such as wood or coal, and are used for cooking and warmth. The stoves have a firebox with a grate where the fuel is burned. The hot air flows through flues and baffles that heat the stove top and the oven.

Before cast iron stoves were invented, cooking and heating were carried out in outdoor open fires, and later, in fireplaces inside the home. In 1642 the first cast iron stove was manufactured in Lynn, Massachusetts, where molten cast iron was poured into a sand mould to make rectangular plates that were then joined together to make a box. Benjamin Franklin invented the more efficient Pennsylvania stove in 1744, and this efficient design is still used today. After the mid-19th century cast iron stoves were produced with burners in different positions, giving varied temperatures, so a wide variety of foods could be cooked at the same time at the most suitable heat, from slow cooking to baking scones. In contemporary times people the new wood-burning stoves had to meet the anti-pollution standards now in place to protect our environment. By the 1920s gas cookers were being introduced for domestic use, and by the 1930s electric home cookers were being offered to householders.

In August 1925 the firm Cox and Rizzetti, Stove Works, and also Sydney Road, South Melbourne, advertised in the Brunswick and Coburg Leader of November 11, 1925 as "formerly with Harnwell and Sons" and as "specialists in solid cast iron Planet stoves ... which merit an inspection from builders and householders". The firm continued in business and was mentioned as sponsors in the King Island News in 1971.

Harnwell and Sons was listed in the Victorian Government Gazette of 1894. It is curious that the firm was mentioned in an article in the Sunrasia Daily of June 14, 1934 titled 'Planet Stoves' as a manufacturer of Planet Stoves.


This Planet No 3 stove is an uncommon example of cooking equipment used in kitchens in the early 20th century, as the firebox is above the oven rather than beside it. The cast iron combustion stove is significant as part of the evolution of domestic cooking. Previously cooking was mostly carried out in outdoors in open fires, and later in fireplaces indoors. Cast iron stoves are still used today and have additional features such as thermostats to monitor and maintain temperature, water heating pipes connected, and environmentally approved anti-pollution fittings.

Physical description

Stove; a compact, blackened cast iron combustion cooker, installed within a fireplace and enclosed by bricks on both sides. The upright rectangular stove has a flat top with three round, removable cook plates and a flue connected at the back. The front has three doors with round knob handles; a swing-down firebox door above a sliding ashtray, and two side-hinged oven doors above a sliding opening. Inside on the side walls are two pairs of runners. Behind the pair of doors is an oven with two pairs of rails and two removable metal shelves. The stove has cast inscriptions on the chimney flue and on the front of the right hand side stove door. The model of the stove is The Planet No 3, made in Melbourne.

Inscriptions & markings

Chimney flue, "[within rectangle] THE / PLANET"
Stove door, "(within oval) PLANET / No 3"