A Brief History of Fire and Hot Rocks in North America

Ceramic Stove. Via Wikipedia

A selection from a book on masonry heaters called Masonry Heaters: Designing, Building, and Living with a Piece of the Sun. This chapter starts off with heaters in museums and references/appearances in popular culture (The Sound of Music, Heidi, etc). It continues on to Mark Twain's excoriation and eventual lauding of ceramic heaters in Germany:

"All day long and until past midnight all parts of the room will be delightfully warm and comfortable, and there will be no headaches and no sense of closeness or oppression. In an American room, whether heated by steam, hot water, or open fires, the neighborhood of the register or the fireplace is warmest – the heat is not equally diffused throughout the room; but in a German room one is comfortable in one part of it as in another. Nothing is gained or lost by being near the stove. Its surface is not hot; you can put your hand on it anywhere and not get burnt...

Consider these things. One firing is enough for the day; the cost is next to nothing; the heat produced is the same all day, instead of too hot and too cold by turns; one may absorb himself in his business in peace; he does not need to feel any anxieties of solicitudes about the fire; his whole day is a realized dream of bodily comfort." Mark Twain