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Heating a home in the 18th century posed some problems. You more or less needed a fire – kept in a fireplace – but fireplaces were inefficient, smoky, and had to be built against wall, meaning you were losing heat through the back wall of your house. Not to mention the quantities of wood required to heat a city caused rapid deforestation (yes, people wanted to save the trees even in the 1770s – that’s really worked out, hasn’t it?)

This was Benjamin Franklin’s solution to the problem – modestly named the Franklin Stove.

The stove is essentially metal fireplace that could be placed in the middle of a room, rather than on the outside. According to Franklin’s designs, it could use ¼ of the wood of a traditional fireplace, but give off twice as much heat. It also had a much smaller chance of giving off a spark that would burn your whole house down, which you’ve got to admit is an advantage in any heating system.

Franklin was offered a patent on the stove, but he decided not to take it – he wanted people to use his invention free of charge. Which was very philanthropic of him, but others weren’t so civic-minded – at least one London merchant patented a modified version of the stove and made a fortune off of it.

Proof that the world was full of arseholes, even before the internet.

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