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Hoosier Cabinet
Pie Safe
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Throughout the 19th century into the first decade of the 20th century the distinguished pie safe served households throughout the country. Their function was to protect home-prepared food, but their unique art form of punched tin panels endeared them.

The idea of using punched tin with appealing designs was an exclusive American application to the original concept of the kitchen food safe.

Historically, small Jelly Safes were said to have preceded the somewhat larger Pie Safes around the first quarter of the 19th century. Pie Safes varied considerably in size.

Obviously, the punching of holes in the tin panels provided ventilation to allow cooling for freshly prepared foods and to discourage molding. However, the pattern of punching (designs & figural images) were meant as decoration as well. In fact, the tin panels of decoration were also used on the other furniture, particularly in the south. Such panels have been have been found on corner cupboards and sideboards.

The origin of the "Hoosier Cabinet" can be traced back to the Baker's Cabinets of the late 1800's. The typical Baker's Cabinet consisted of a kitchen table with drawers and two large bins for flour or meal. It also included an upper section with shelves for storing dishes and other utensils. This upper shelf section often included two doors with glass panels. As the Baker's Cabinet evolved into the "Hoosier Cabinet", the lower section was replaced with a cabinet base that had a door on one side for storing cooking utensils and drawers on the other side. The uppper section was divided into storage areas with wood or glass doors. Some early cabinets had a row of small drawers below the doors. Later additions included built-in flour sifters, sugar containers and spice jars. The wood table tops of the very early cabinets were often covered with zinc sheet metal. When the zinc was found to be toxic, it was replaced with aluminum. Later, the metal-covered work tops were replaced by porcelain tops that pulled out for added work space.

In recent years the term "Hoosier" cabinet has been used rather loosely to refer to the free-standing kitchen cabinets made from the turn of the century to the mid 1930's. These cabinets usually have porcelain worktops, roll doors and built-in flour sifters that held 50 pounds or more of flour. Many of these cabinets were also equipped with tin bread drawers, sugar jars, spice jars, pull-out bread boards and many other features designed to provide the housewife with a "Modern Efficient Kitchen".

Many of these cabinets and their features were advertised in magazinesof the day including "The Saturday Evening Post",
"Better Homes & Gardens" and "The Ladies Home Journal". The name Hoosier Cabinet can be attributed to the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. in Indiana. By the year 1920, 2 million of the homes in America had kitchen cabinets built by the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. There were other manufactures of the early cabinets such as: Sellers, Napanee, Boone & McDougall. All were built in Indiana, the HOOSIER STATE.
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