Thursday, December 8, 2016

Antique Cabinets, Cupboards, and Cases

By Gretchen Sawatzki

There's a lot of "c-words" in the world of design - color, custom, coordinate, carpentry, carpet - to name a few, but none are quite as a fun as cabinets, cupboards, and cases!

A century ago consumerism was in its infancy and people owned less clothing, cookware, and chachkies (more fun "c-words"), so built-in storage was less of a necessity than it is today. Most items of the era could be stored in all types of cabinets, cupboards, or cases which today makes for some interesting antique furniture.

Antique Edwardian Cabinet image by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited
This antique cabinet dates to circa 1900. Made from quartersawn oak, this cabinet features two sets of double doors, drawers, and interior shelves. This types of cabinet may have been used to house blankets, tablecloths, and other large fabrics.
Eastlake Style Bookcase, image by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Bookcases, are one of the most popular types of cases from the recent past as they can hold any number of books or objects. This antique cherry wood bookcase circa 1875 features glass doors, small cabinet doors, and even drawers. It's likely that the original owner of this fine piece of furniture was quite wealthy as cherry wood is considered more refined wood from traditional fur or oak species. This bookcase also features locks on the drawers, where the owner could lock away items of significant value.
Victorian Era Corner Cabinet, image by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Found in cottages, bungalows, and middle-class Victorian Era homes across the country, corner cabinets were often used in the dining room to store and display fine china and silver used for dining. While some homes of the late 19th century featured these cabinets as built-ins, this cabinet made in 1875 would have made a statement in a home without the traditional built-in.

Industrial Era Map Case, image by Hannah Manning
for Materials Unlimited

Used to store large, flat objects, this case likely came from a library or offices from the industrial era. As post Civil War manufacturing boomed, many businesses and factories hired draftsmen to draw up maps, blueprints and specs for projects on oversized paper. The large format of paper was necessary to enlarge project details to a visible scale. Flat files or map cases were used to house these drawings.

Antique Medicine Cabinet, image by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Probably the most overlooked cabinet in your house, the medicine cabinet, provides a simple storage solution to those wonderfully gross hygiene products that we all use. This antique walnut Renaissance Revival style cabinet would have been the in vogue around the turn of the 20th century. With its simple, yet fashionable design, this little cabinet would have lived in the bathroom, washroom, or even a bedroom next to a washstand or sink.

Vintage Steel Case, image by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

More of vault than the average case, this vintage steel behemoth would have been the ideal solution to storing small valuables and records. Likely taken from an industrial property, its simple design, interior shelves, and handy castors make it functional and easy to move.

Antique Two Piece Cupboard, image by
Hannah Manning for Materials Unlimited

Sometimes referred to a "hutch" this two piece cupboard features two glass doors and two drawers on the upper portion and two cabinet doors and two drawers on the lower half. This simple design has been popular since the Middle Ages as valuables could be displayed behind the glass doors and silver or even liquors could be locked in the cabinets below.

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