Salesmen Samples

Hi.  Winnie Griggs here.  Today I’m celebrating the release of my newest book, The Bride Next Door.  And in honor of that I thought I’d share with you one of those fun little rabbit trails I often head down when I’m doing my research.  (And I’ll be doing a giveaway as well – more about that later!)

 Daisy Johnson, the heroine of  The Bride Next Door, is the travel-weary daughter of an itinerant peddler.  Her biggest dream is to settle down in one place and open a restaurant.  When she unexpectedly obtains ownership of an abandoned building in Turnabout, Texas, she figures she’s half way there.  Her goal then becomes to earn enough money to purchase a state of the art stove.  She undertakes to do that by working as a cook for the hero Everett Fulton.

 But I digress.  One of the things I needed to research for this book was what sorts of stoves would have been available in this time period (1895).  As I looked at picture upon picture, I discovered something surprising (to me at least)  some of the photos I was looking at were not actual stoves, but what were called salesmen samples.  They were toy sized models of various kinds of stoves and ranges that traveling salesmen could carry with them to show the prospective buyer what the full sized appliance would look like.  They varied in size – the smallest one I saw was 2.5”x3.25”x4”  and the largest was 5.25:x7.5”x8.75”.   It’s amazing to me how ornate and detailed these miniatures were and I thought I’d share a few of them with you.


Aren’t these nifty!  In some cases I had to double check the caption or article to make sure I was looking at a salesmen’s sample and not the real thing.  I think my favorite is the pretty blue one in the center.  What about you – is there one you particularly like?  And have you ever seen one of these outside of a picture?

Oh, and if you’re interested in what kind of stove my heroine had her heart set on, you can find it on my Pinterest board for this book, which is at this link:


And now, the giveaway!!

In honor of the release of The Bride Next Door this month, I’d like to give a copy to one of today’s commenters.  So leave a comment before midnight CST and I’ll throw your name in the hat for the drawing!

Love Thy Neighbor? 

After years of wandering, Daisy Johnson hopes to settle in Turnabout, Texas, open a restaurant, perhaps find a husband. Of course, she’d envisioned a man who actually likes her. Not someone who offers a marriage of convenience to avoid scandal. 

Turnabout is just a temporary stop for newspaper reporter Everett Fulton. Thanks to one pesky connecting door and a local gossip, he’s suddenly married, but his dreams of leaving haven’t changed. What Daisy wants – home, family, tenderness – he can’t provide. Yet big-city plans are starting to pale beside small-town warmth…

(If you’re interested in reading an excerpt or purchasing a copy, click on the bookcover at the left)


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Winnie Griggs is the author of Historical (and occasionally Contemporary) romances that focus on Small Towns, Big Hearts, Amazing Grace. She is also a list maker, a lover of dragonflies and holds an advanced degree in the art of procrastination.
Three of Winnie’s books have been nominated for the Romantic Times Reviewers Choice Award, and one of those nominations resulted in a win.
Winnie loves to hear from readers. You can connect with her on facebook at or email her at

40 thoughts on “Salesmen Samples”

  1. I love the blue stove too! There is a restaurant where i live called the pizza farm! They have a beautiful pale yellow one that has been restored. I would love to read your book. I’m always looking for new authors who wrote historical romance. They’re my favorite!

  2. Winnie, these are fascinating! I once saw a salesman’s sample piano on one of these storage building auction shows but would never have thought about having them for stoves (though it makes total sense.) I can only imagine the life of a peddler, having to cart around all that stuff! These stoves are so elaborate, too…wow.

    Congrats on your release and no need to enter me in the contest–I just wanted to give you feedback on the cool post!

    All best,

  3. I like the first one. It’s so ornate. But, they are all beautiful and unique. I remember the old stove at my grandparents’ house. I was really young, so I honestly couldn’t tell you if it looked like one in the pictures. But, I remember it was an odd piece and I used to like looking at it. She also had the old style washing machine with the rollers to ring out the water and I can’t forget her sewing machine. I used to love that too. But, nothing was better then the drawer full of buttons which always fascinated me. It was like a treasure box. Congratulations on your new book.

  4. The cooks using that kind of stove had a time cooking on them. Most look like they burned coal or wood so I bet the cooks had to carry that into the house as well. Thank heavens for the microwave.

  5. Hi Kim – thanks for stopping by. That retsored stove sound lovely – do they actually cook on it?

    Jean – yes I can see how they would have to use samples for all sorts of large objects, so a piano makes perfect sense. Especially since most folks wouldn’t have easy access to stores where they could see the ‘real thing’ the way we do today.

  6. Janine – what lovely memories to have! I have my grandmother’s vintage Singer sewing machine – the kind with the foot treadle, and I cherish it dearly.

    CateS – oh I love Antiques Roadshow. It’s so fun to see these people come in with their sometimes beautiful, sometime oddball treasures.

  7. Hi Sherri! I’ve never actualy seen one of these outside of pictures, but I dearly love visiting antique stores and estate sales. Perhaps someday I’ll run across one

    Maria P – thanks for stopping by and I’ll definitely toss your name in the hat for the drawing.

  8. Congrats on the new release, Winnie! It looks like another good one. And what an interesting blog. I didn’t know salesmen carried little toy replicas of the larger items. Wow! I love the pictures. I like the first image the best. It’s so ornate and quite beautiful. I’m sure the average person couldn’t afford one quite so fancy though. Bet it carried a hefty price tag. Craftsmen really took pride in their work back then.

    Wishing you much success, Filly sister!

  9. Love the blue one also! And in fact, I have a full size yellow one just like that in my basement! We still used it when we butchered, now it just gathers dust!

  10. Oh those are great… I have a toy version of one that looks similar to the first one… I got that when I was young with a little mouse family, lol. Congrats on the new release!

  11. Hi Joye – I’m with you! Though we do like to romanticize those ‘good ole days’ I know I would never want to leave all the modern conveniences to go back to living that way – I’m much too spoiled for that!

  12. Hi Cathy – thanks for stopping by and for the kind words about my writing!

    LOL Renee – much like you, my friend. And I’m currently in the middle of The Outlaw’s Redemption and LOVING it!

  13. Thanks Linda! And aren’t the picture fun! This period I’m writing in was known for the ornate style of craftsmanship in many of their products and I just love it!

    anon1001 – Glad you enjoyed the post

  14. The blue one is so much more fun than the others. It’s probably enamel right?
    I really liked the one on the bottom center, with the silver doors and black body. It’s amazing the detail. I love it that they took the time to make these pretty.
    Also, I kinda want one of the toys. I’ll bet their pricy.
    But they’d be so AUTHENTIC.

  15. I love the pictures of all the old stoves! They are like works of art. Can’t wait to read your new book!

  16. Hi Connie – How cool about your yellow stove! What fuel did it run on?

    Colleen – LOL on it coming with a mouse family. Bet you had many hours of fun playing with that as a child!

  17. Hi Mary – yes it’s enamel. That one on the center bottom that you mentoned is one of the ones I had to double check as to whether it was full sized or minature – it just looked sooooo real! And yes, the little girl in me would love to have one for my very own to play with 🙂

    Heidi – glad you like the pictures and the post. I think the people who created these miniatures put as much care and pride into making them as did the producers of their full sized equivalents

  18. Love those beautiful little stoves, Winnie. Wouldn’t it be great to have the whole collection?

    And your book sounds delightful. Some winner is going to be very lucky today.

  19. Winnie, The yellow stove is an old wood burner. Once in awhile to keep the fire burning we would add coal. We were still heating our house with an old wood furnace which we had to give up because of a crack in the firebox. Plus with both of us working in town no one was home to keep the fires burning.

  20. Have never seen salesmans samples, but how cute! We have had plenty of antiques in our family. I do remember the coal burning stove out in the chicken house that was no longer in use 🙂
    Anytime I see a book with your name on it, I know it will be a good read.

  21. Hi Elizabeth – oh my yes, it would be such fun to take these out and play, especially if there are younguns around. And thanks for the sweet words about my book.

    Connie – very cool about the wood burner – must have given it a real pioneer type vibe!

  22. Hi Winnie, first off, congrats on another fantastic release! As per the stoves: my mom had one of these mini stoves as a kid, and I played with it endlessly. I don’t know if it was a sales piece or meant as an actual toy, but I just loved it. When I had my first apartment, I decorated it all old-fashioned and found a replica of my own. Goodness, I wish I knew where they were now. Thanks for the memories! xo

  23. I have a Crescent salesmen sample with the accessories. Not sure if it is a real one or replica. Sometimes my daughter who is six asks to play with it sometimes. I love the blue one also. Thanks for the giveaway.

  24. Oh Tanya, how cool that you had one to play with as a kid. I think I read somewhere that many of these salesmen samples eventually became children’s toys as models were retired and replaced with newer ones. And thanks for the nice words about my book!

  25. Love all the stoves. I love anything ‘doll-sized’, as I have a large collection of dolls. I love reading your books too.

  26. Hi Cindy! Whether real or replica, I’m sure it’s a great little item – especially if you can’t tell the difference! The blue one seems to be quite popular

    AmyC – glad you enjoyed the post and the pictures!

  27. The blue one was the first to catch my eye. It would be the one I’d want full size. There was a similar one (only light green and beige) in the camp my dad bought in the 1960’s. It had the warming oven and the water reservoir. As was so often done back then, he threw it out. It kills me every time I think of it. It would fit perfectly in our victorian farm house. For so many people back then, that old stuff was junk. My husbands uncle took an axe to the oak ice box in the kitchen to get rid of it. It took us years to find one for our house. I have seen a few at antique shops. We have a salesman’s sample of a fainting bench that my grandmother gave me. Perfect for a 2 year old to sit on, but she won’t be allowed to.

    Thanks for the interesting post. THE BRIDE NEXT DOOR sounds like another good story.

  28. The stove she wanted is great. I’ve not seen one that style before. Loved her wedding dress too.

  29. Hi Chey, thanks for stopping by

    Patricia B, oh, that breaks my heart as well, but as yiu say it happened a lot. And who knows, in fifty years some of our descendants may think the same of things we carelessly discard today.

    And thanks so much for checking out my Pinterest board for the book. I had a lot of fun putting it together and it was a great visual to use as I wrote the story. I have boards for all the book in the series now – though for the fourth book, the one I’m writing now, it’s still a work in progress.

  30. I remember seeing some old stoves in my family’s home, except their stove was not that shiny. It was always fascinating to me. Your book sounds great. Thank you for entering me in your giveaway.
    Barbara Thompson

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