This carriage heater was donated to our collection in 1953. It was made by the Chicago Flexible Shaft Company around 1900. It is a wedge-shaped metal box with a handle.
The metal label under the handle reads: "The Clark Heater No. 7 D." The middle section is covered with well-used carpet.
The right wall has a small metal drawer with a handle to hold coal or charcoal. One piece of charcoal was still inside when the warmer was donated.
The left and back walls have dampers to control the rate at which the fuel burns.
The Chicago Flexible Shaft Company was founded in 1893 and manufactured farm equipment. By the early 1900s the company partnered with new investors and began producing automobile parts and accessories, including small coal-burning foot heaters designed for winter driving. In 1946 the company became the Sunbeam Corporation, known for manufacturing small appliances.
Early cars had no windows and no heaters, so driving in winter was as cold in a car as it was in a horse-drawn carriage.
Since they were small and easy to transport these small heaters were also used in churches and at other gatherings.
They were especially useful for women, whose long skirts would hang over the heater for optimal heating effect.
Background Image: The Speeder Drum-Orel Railroad, PCM Collection