I was surprised to see an advertisement for a oven thermometer in the February, 1919 issue of American Cookery magazine. Cooks had a bit more information about oven temperatures than I’d previously realized.
Cooking with wood and coal stoves a century ago could be challenging. Hundred-year-old recipes never indicated the exact temperature that should be used when baking food in the oven. Instead the recipes said things like use a “high temperature” or a “medium temperature.” And, the cook was left to her (it was generally a woman in those days) own devices to figure out how to regulate the temperature. For example, more wood or coal might be thrown on the fire to get increase the temperature.