Magic Chef was started in St. Louis in 1881 by brothers Louis and Charles Stockstrom. They incorporated their business as the "American Stove Company" in 1901 and were respected for many decades as manufacturers of quality stoves and ovens. In 1929, the company introduced its first line of Magic Chef stoves with a distinctive look that can still be identified today. The line was so popular that it led the company to change its name to "Magic Chef" in 1951. In 1957 it merged with Food Giant Markets of California and was later sold to Maytag. In 2006, when Maytag merged with Whirlpool, the company ceased creating stoves under the Magic Chef emblem.
How to Identify a Magic Chef Stove
Look for the distinctive style of authentic, antique Magic Chef stoves produced between 1929 and 1956, before the company merged with other brands. The first line of Magic Chef stoves was designed by Frank Alvah Parsons, the Director of the New York School of Fine Art and displays definite design elements such as sleek lines and rich, enamel colors unique to Magic Chef stoves.
Look for cabriole legs. Cabriole is a style of furniture leg that curves outward before narrowing downward into an ornamental foot. Cabriole legs are similar to the type of legs found on Queen Anne and Chippendale chairs. The legs often look like elegant claws holding small round objects within their grasp.
Locate elaborate cabinet and drawer pulls as these were part of the design that led the stoves to be called "Art Deco porcelain stoves." These pulls are like what was being used on furniture at the time and look similar to pulls used on William and Mary-era dressers, nightstands and curios.
Expect to pay for an authentic Magic Chef stove. At one point during the late 1930s, the company claimed to be selling nearly 50 percent of America's stoves. While there were many on the market, there aren't many still in good shape. Antique expert Joe Rosson estimates that a Magic Chef oven in near-mint condition with the features described above is valued between $1,500 and $1,800.