Quite often I'm asked what the numbers in the rear corner of an Antique Cook Stove/Range actually mean or stand for. Quite simply, in most cases, they pertain to the length of the Firebox (thus usable wood length) and the Cooking plate opening. So, when you see a Round Oak Chief Cook Stove with the numbers 9-20, the cook plate opening is approximately 9 Inches, and the firebox is 20 Inches long. Sometimes there are letters used as well, as in the case of a Glenwood No. 8 R, or No. 8 C. The 8 in both cases is the cook plate opening, the R designated a Right Hand Firebox; the C designated Cabinet, as the stove wood sit on a cabinet base, as opposed to 4 legs. There are variations on this "Code" but largely this is what the numbers represent. There are exceptions when the foundry merely added a series of numbers/letters that just designated the Model Number of their stove.
Often you'll see a cook stove/range with the roll top unit above the cooking surface. These are called Warming Ovens, as the stove smoke pipe often went right through them, or directly behind them, and would keep food warm while the rest of the meal was cooking below. Simpler units just had shelves, with no roll top or doors, and they serve the same purpose, but not as efficiently.
You might have noticed that I refer to cook stoves as a "Range" in this Guide. That is because the larger 6 Burner Stoves were actually called Ranges. The real Cook Stove had only 4 Burner openings, often with oven doors on both (opposing) sides. The term Range has been dropped in most Antique Stove descriptions over the years, but this is none the less a fact. A cook stove is always smaller than a range.
I'm often asked about the multiple openings (3 rings) cook plates on a stove. These are referred to as a "Nest" and were usually placed over the firebox. You can control the cooking with the smaller openings, as well as adjust draft when lighting or restoking the stove. This of course comes with experience, as all stoves will burn differently, depending on chimney/smoke pipe draft, prevailing winds in your area, fresh air intake, etc.
I hope this Guide has been helpful, and Thank You for taking the time to read it. A YES Vote will certainly keep me writing about Stoves!