Hoosier cabinets were freestanding cupboards manufactured from the turn of the 19th century to around 1930. Also known as kitchen queens, Hoosier-style cabinets provided the homemaker with everything she needed to run an efficient kitchen all in one piece of furniture. More than 40 factories produced these cabinets, but the most well known was the Hoosier Manufacturing Co. in New Castle, Indiana, whose name has become synonymous with this style cupboard.
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Hoosier cabinets have two-part construction; a separate top and bottom joined by brackets on either side of the base which extends out from the top to form a work area. The work area is generally porcelain, although some early models were wood. This counter slides in and out, giving the homemaker a larger surface when needed. A Hoosier cabinet has three cupboards on top and one large cupboard on the bottom coupled with three drawers on one side and two smaller drawers on the top of the lower half just below the work surface. Tambour doors, folding doors like the front of a roll top desk, close off the area above the counter and below the top cupboards to offer additional storage. Hoosier cabinet legs have casters, making the piece easier to move than most vintage standalone cupboards.
Each Hoosier manufacturer had its own label. Many were metal and screwed to the top front of the cabinet. If this tag is missing, look for a paper label on the back of the cupboard. Other than the Hoosier Co., some well known manufacturers of Hoosier style cabinets are Napanee, Sellers, McDougall, Kitchen Maid, Wilson and Boone.
Many Hoosiers were made of oak and finished to show off the wood's grain. Some Hoosiers were constructed from a variety of woods and then painted, generally in a pastel shade, to unite them. However your cabinet is finished, look for normal signs of wear in areas where the cabinet would have been touched many times a day, like around the pulls and handles.
While generic Hoosier cabinets have few bells and whistles, other models feature flour sifters and sugar bins behind the tambour door. Additional storage -- such as spice racks inside the top cupboard doors -- are common, as are bread drawers with punched tin tops. The large lower cupboard might feature a shelf on the inside of the door for storing baking items like baking trays, and the inside of the cupboard might be a shelf that slides out to make taking out and putting away items a little easier.
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