Sunday, February 10, 2013

In Search of a Sifter Cabinet

I have wanted to find a sifter cabinet for one of my booths for months, with no luck. Finally the other evening as I was browsing a sale site online, I found one. A phone call, a road trip, an interesting visit--and it's mine.

What is a sifter cabinet? That's not the right name for it, really, but it's what I've always called them. Some people call them Hoosier cabinets because a company by that name made some, and fine work theirs were. Some people call them Sellers cabinets because that's another company that made them. Others call them Marsh, same reason, and there were other companies that made them too. Some just call them kitchen cabinets, and many people just call them Hoosier cabinets because that became the most popular make. These cabinets were made in the days before the advent of built-in kitchen cabinetry, and they were designed to be used by women who really cooked and baked.

The Hoosier on the left is one I have owned since 1975. It does not have a sifter inside--apparently someone removed it when sifting your own flour went out of style. It does have the top bread drawer, and used to have a lid on that drawer but when I got it I tossed the lid--dumb move because of course today that would add to its value. The front has a roll-top-desk like closure called a tambour that works quite well. We don't use it because of the microwave but it can be rolled down to hide this section from view. It has a wire shelf/rack inside the bottom large door, and someone said they thought that was for cooling bread after baking. It was white when I bought it, a terrible paint job. I painted it brown and "antiqued" it in the 70's style of doing that, to make it look like wood. It looked terrible but better than the flat white latex on it when I bought it. In the 80's I painted it cream and green, stenciled ivy on the doors and replaced the drawer handles with porcelain knobs. When I first bought this cabinet it was my "work" cabinet. I used it to store food and pans and pretty much everything. I used the porcelain top a lot too, and chipped it when I clamped on my apple peelers and grinders and other such tools. And if you have a porcelain top table or cabinet with chips, I'd bet that's what happened to yours too. Today I use the cabinet for storing my kitchen linens, wineglasses, silver, plastic containers--and it holds the microwave. I don't use it like I used to since I bought the big pantry cabinet, but it is still used daily, and it's part of our home.

The one I bought yesterday looks similar to mine, but it needs painting, some hinges for the top cabinet doors, and I'd like to replace the drawer handles with crystal or porcelain knobs. It has a cutting board that stores in a little slide-in place under the wire rack in the base cabinet, and it has the bread drawer with lid--and it has the sifter! I can't show photos of it in its "before" state right now because Larry has it taken apart and is already scraping the loose paint. I promise to show some as soon as I can, and definitely before we paint it.

It was certainly worth the trip, and we met a nice guy who also buys and sells antiques. We came away with a few other things he had for sale, and I heard some great ghost stories from him as well as some funny tales which I need to get written down. I think we'll be back to visit Mr. Adkins sometime, just to talk and listen to his stories. It's one of the advantages I've found in this reselling business: we meet some mighty interesting people and hear stories everywhere we go.

Copyright 2012 Susanna Holstein. All rights reserved. No Republication or Redistribution Allowed without attribution to Susanna Holstein.


Sue said...

Sounds like you scored on two levels...a sifter AND stories!


JoAnn ( Scene Through My Eyes) said...

Wow - that was a great road trip. I like your old "Hoosier" too.

steeleweed said...

I grew up with a genuine Hoosier. The countertop had degraded to the point it had to be covered with tin. It had a flour sifter and a window in the 'box' above to let you see how much flour was left. The bread drawer had a sliding lid; there was a spice rack hanging inside the tambor. Seem to recall something specifically designed to store sugar.

A neighbor had been a ship's carpenter on on of the last wooden sailing ships. He did built-in work of similar functionality - never saw anyone get more use out of less space.

Michelle said...

Your trip sounds like fun. I have a Hoosier cabinet that goes well with my ancient farmhouse. It is not in perfect condition, but I dearly love it. Sadly, it is missing its sifter.

Quinn said...

I knew exactly what you meant - there was a sifter cabinet in the kitchen of my little hut when I bought it, but it was beyond reclamation. Those cabinets can be lovely, though!
Good job on your shopping/storygathering expedition :)

Nance said...

I have Sifter Cabinet envy. Love your Kitchen cabinets and your stories and adventures.

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