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Antique Kitchen Furniture - Popular Antique Kitchen Furniture for a Vintage Kitchen

cabinet pie cabinets hoosier

Antique kitchen furniture showcases the décor of a vintage kitchen; making it important to procure the right pieces. Four items in particular will enhance the kitchen; the pie safe, the jelly cupboard, the dry sink and the most sought after antique, the Hoosier cabinet.

The pie safe was also known as a pie cabinet or pie cupboard. This antique piece of furniture was popular in the 19th and early 20th centuries and is widely assumed to have been introduced to the United States by the Pennsylvania Dutch. The pie safe was a free-standing cabinet that was usually made of pine wood; though the exterior on some was laid with a richer, nicer wood. It had either single or double doors with fixed shelves inside; and some had one or two drawers at the top. On the top, sides, and doors the cabinets were ventilated with either screens or pierced tin designed to keep the baked goods from getting moldy; and to keep out bugs and rodents.

A smaller version of the pie safe was the jelly cabinet. This cabinet was used in the early 19th century a few years before the pie safe. The cabinet had fixed shelves behind usually one door, though some had two; and one or door dovetailed drawers at the top. The jelly cabinet was used for canned jams, jellies, and other home canned goods. Some of the cabinets could be locked and were used to store expensive spices and sugar.

In the 1800’s, a kitchen wasn’t complete without a dry sink. The dry sink was primarily used for preparing food and washing up. It consisted of a small cabinet with a recessed area on the top. The recessed area was lined with zinc, copper or other water-proof material so it could hold the water while washing. The cabinet usually had a bar or hook on the side to hang a towel and a storage area underneath for extra towels and other necessary items. During the Victorian era they began to have flat marble tops that could hold a pitcher and water basin. The dry sink is the most copied of antique kitchen furniture in the modern household; though it is used in a variety of rooms.

The most sought after antique kitchen furniture is the Hoosier cabinet; also known as the women’s work bench. This is another popular piece of furniture from the early 1900’s. The Hoosier Manufacturing Company of Indiana created this cabinet based on the baker’s bench. Though other companies later made and sold these cabinets, Hoosier was the first and thus the cabinets came to be called “hoosier cabinets” regardless of who made or sold them. During 1900-1940 Hoosier built over four million cabinets.

At first these antique cabinets were made of wood, but around 1920 started to be lined with enamel. The base of the cabinet was usually a large compartment with a shelf that slid out and several drawers to one side. The base most often sat on casters so it could be rolled around the kitchen if needed. The top part of the cabinet consisted of several smaller sections with doors and one lower larger section that had a roll-top. The two sections of the cabinet were joined by a sliding counter top with two shallow drawers underneath. With the countertop retracted, the cabinet measured about 4 feet wide, six feet high and was about 2 feet deep.

Within the hoosier cabinet there were various racks and shelves with hardware to hold staples and spices. Most cabinets had a built-in flour bin and sifter combo and a sugar bin. Inside the doors it was common to find cards with household tips, conversions for baking measurements, or even sample menus. The Sneath Glass Company manufactured special glass jars to fit the shelves and racks of the hoosier cabinets. Offered in sets, they usually included tea and coffee canisters, four to eight spice jars, and a salt box. Some sets included a cracker jar.

Finding true antique kitchen furniture can be satisfying and worthwhile. The pie safe, jelly cabinet, dry sink and especially the hoosier cabinet are four antiques that will definitely enhance the vintage kitchen.

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