How to Identify Old Camp Stoves

Written by eric cedric
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How to Identify Old Camp Stoves
Material and fuel are two indicators of old camp stoves. (Millitary mess kit on gas-stove burner image by Sergey Shaklein from

You can identify old camp stoves by using a few tactile and observable methods. Weight, fuel used, and etchings or imprints are reliable methods of identifying older camp stoves. Use a magnifying glass to read small etchings along the old camp stove, or to get closer views of eroded and smudged lettering. Fuel pumps or areas for solid fuel are giveaways on the age of the camp stove in question.

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Things you need

  • Magnifying glass

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  1. 1

    Pick up and inspect all areas of the camp stove. Look for old etchings, stamps and markings on the stove. Use the magnifying glass for any eroded or hard-to-read lettering. Look for date stamps. For example, camp stove maker Primus used date stamps on its paraffin wax fuel stoves from the early 1900s. Primus stoves used an alphabetic character that corresponded with a number of year. For example, the 1911 stove had an "A" while the 1912 stove used a "B" to indicate date.

  2. 2

    Check the fuel holding area. Solid fuel stoves have a small holding area under a burner where the flame provides the cooking heat. Older camp stoves used solid fuels like wax or -- in the mid to late 1950s -- Sterno. Solid fuel holders indicate an older camp stove.

  3. 3

    Look for fuel pumps off an external fuel tank. Many old Coleman stoves used kerosene or white gas tanks with a hand-pumped fuel pump. Over time Coleman began using propane canisters. Older Coleman two burners with a red external tank and a fuel pump indicate the stove is older.

  4. 4

    Check for actual date stamps on the stoves. Many old camp stoves have year date stamps indicating their age. Older Coleman stoves used a year date stamp under the metal holding bases.

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