History of the camping stove

 Issues 37 10308714 H Final
The item above is one of Alexis Soyer's Magic Stoves. First patented in 1849, the Magic Stove was the prototypical gas camping stove. Cabinet magazine reveals the history of this revolutionary and beautifully-designed device. From Cabinet:

The small, portable burner was designed to run on pressurized fuel and to have sufficient heating power to cook a meal in a couple of minutes. The Magic Stove’s first appearances in the great outdoors reflected the grandiosity of its gentlemanly origins... “Mad” Lieutenant Gale, a daredevil hot-air balloonist, wanted to take the Magic Stove on board, but died too soon in a botched ascent. Explorers took the stove with them on their expeditions. In 1850, the Admiralty ordered some Magic Stoves for Captain Horatio Austin’s expedition to the Arctic in search of Sir John Franklin, prefiguring Amundsen’s use of the Primus stove on his journey to the North Pole.

Soyer wanted his stove to be a “must-have,” an irresistible gadget that would look great “in the parlour of the wealthy, the office of the merchant, the studio of the artist, or the attic of the humble.” (Its successor, the better-known Primus developed by the Swedish inventor F. W. Linquist, did not come on the market until the end of the nineteenth century.) Newspapers praised it and found it “so certain in its operations that a gentleman may cook his steak or chop on his study table, or a lady may have it among her crochet or other work.” Outdoor use was advocated as well for “the sportsman on the moors, or the angler by the side of the mountain stream.” The stove was small enough, it was said, that it could be carried in one’s hat.

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