Once upon a time, houses were heated by fireplaces. But other technologies arose which became increasingly relied upon as primary sources of heat. In particular, heating stoves were partnered with the fireplaces, which provided flues for the stove pipe to vent through, and protective hearths upon which the hot little stoves could be placed. In order to deal with the aesthetic issue of a dark empty cavern looming behind the stove, fireplace inserts were fashioned from sheet metal – such as this example, which features a group of travellers pausing to rest at a desert oasis with the pyramids and Sphinx in the background. The large circle is actually a hinged flap that hides the hole where the stovepipe is inserted, in the event that a stove is not present (they may have been moved to storage in the summer months).
Toasty Toes8 10 2013