Early 20th Century Furniture: Hoosier Cabinets

Updated on March 1, 2018
Marye Audet profile image

Marye Audet-White is an internationally known food writer, food editor for Texas Living, cookbook author, and food blogger.

If you picture a vintage kitchen you will more than likely picture a Hoosier cabinet somewhere in it. The freestanding cabinet and counter combination was a staple in any well equipped kitchen well into the mid 20th century.

Prior to the 1930s there were few houses with built in kitchen cabinets and freestanding cabinetry was king. Although there were a number of manufacturers that made these cabinets the largest company was Hoosier and so the cabinets became known as “Hoosiers” no matter who had originally made them. Some of the companies that made these cabinets besides Hoosier were:

  • Sellers
  • KitchenMaid
  • Coppes Napanee
  • Boone

Hoosier Accessories

Generally the cabinets had a pull out bread board or cutting board in the front, a cabinet up on the top, and drawers on the base. The Hoosier cabinet would have had accessories available. This would include:

  • Salt cellar
  • Coffee canister
  • Tea Canister
  • Spice jars
  • Cracker jar
  • Sugar jar


Sneath Glass Company manufactured the jars for Hoosier. The earlier glass canisters were squarer in shape. During the early 1920s the shapes became more rounded. As time went on more additions were made to make the cabinet more efficient. Ironing boards, umbrella stands and other additions were created as the manufacturers' imaginations soared.

Bakers' Cabinet Slideshow

Click thumbnail to view full-size
A bakers' cabinet with a "possum belly", eventually evolved into a Hoosier. image:(c)maryeaudetPull out bread board  image(c)maryeaudetPressed glass saltbox image (c) marye audetCabinet latch. image:(c)maryeaudetCabinet hinge image(c) marye audetInterior of flour drawer (c) marye audetcabinet (c) marye audet
A bakers' cabinet with a "possum belly", eventually evolved into a Hoosier. image:(c)maryeaudet
A bakers' cabinet with a "possum belly", eventually evolved into a Hoosier. image:(c)maryeaudet
Pull out bread board  image(c)maryeaudet
Pull out bread board image(c)maryeaudet
Pressed glass saltbox image (c) marye audet
Pressed glass saltbox image (c) marye audet
Cabinet latch. image:(c)maryeaudet
Cabinet latch. image:(c)maryeaudet
Cabinet hinge image(c) marye audet
Cabinet hinge image(c) marye audet
Interior of flour drawer (c) marye audet
Interior of flour drawer (c) marye audet
cabinet (c) marye audet
cabinet (c) marye audet

History of the Hoosier Company

Hoosier Manufacturing Company was located in New Castle, Indiana. It was founded in 1898. The cabinets evolved from bakers’ cabinets that were popular during the 1800s.These baker’s cabinets were simple, often homemade, with a set of shelves for storage, a work surface, and drawers. There were often “possum belly” drawers to hold flour and sugar. These drawers would be of tin to protect the contents from rodents. The countertop was first made of wood, and then later zinc, aluminum, and porcelain. The legs ended in casters, both for ease of moving the cabinet and to keep the ants out of it.

In about 1900 Hoosier took the bakers' cabinet a few steps further and added many improvements to help the homemaker. These cabinets were efficient with numerous additions including:

  • Flour sifters
  • Bread drawers lined with enamel
  • Bread boards
  • Various storage containers

Hoosier built over four million cabinets between 1900 and 1940. For the first 20 years the cabinets were made and finished in natural oak, however in the 1920s Hoosier started offering cabinets that were lined with enamel. Because of the bright white of the enamel these cabinets were called “White Beauty”, also referred to as “Beauty“

Identifying Hoosier Cabinets

Manufacturers marked their cabinets with an identifying label. Although these labels were often engraved or stamped metal and screwed onto the cabinet they are sometimes lost, especially if there has been repairs or refinishing.

Getting a reference book or price guide on Hoosiers will help you to identify cabinets that have lost their tags. There are a number of ways to replace missing hardware and accessories once you know which cabinet you have.

Check on eBay for missing parts. Often people will take items from cabinets that are in too bad of a shape to be restored. These items may include:

  • Hinges
  • Knobs
  • Glass insets
  • Accessories like jars or sifters


Sometimes the top will be separated from the bottom of the cupboard. In this case the piece that is left can be used in a variety of ways. The top can be hung on a wall as a cupboard, or it can be placed on a table or other piece and used against a wall. The bottom can be used as a sofa table, or even a workspace in your kitchen.

Owning one of these beautiful antique Hoosier cabinets is a great way to add vintage charm to almost any kitchen.

Questions & Answers

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      • RhondaHumphreys1 profile image

        Rhonda Humphreys 

        5 years ago from Michigan

        I am picking up a Hoosier style antique cabinet tomorrow that I purchased for $15. It is all metal and in desperate need of refinishing. Anyone have an idea what this cabinet is called and how to take the paint off?

      • profile image

        donna nagy 

        6 years ago

        Hi, I am wondering are the flour sifters useable if they are cleaned on the inside were the flour would go, and spray painted a brushed nickel on the out side... I always wondered if they sold plastic inserts for the insides. Do people use the sifters once restored and is it safe to store flour and sugar.. Have both.... I will be reselling this when finished and want it safe for usage.... Thank you for any advice....

      • profile image

        Loretta 

        6 years ago

        I just baught an old golden oak hoosier cabinet.

        It has never been painted, but has been refinished.

        the hardware is not original, but it is in great shape.

        the top has the blue and white specks, and it also has the enamel shelf as well, I was told 1910 was the only year that the enamel shelf was made, it this true, can some one tell me?? what is its worth?? it is beautiful.

      • profile image

        texas48fan 

        6 years ago

        HI! I am refurbishing a "Hoosier" cabinet. I'm not sure what brand it is, it has engraved or stamped into the wood, but can't read it very well. Looks like queen is part of it, but not sure. We are looking for replacement drawers. They are tin with wooden fronts. There is a bread drawer and 2 smaller ones. Please let me know where I can find these. Thanks!

      • profile image

        Mae Powell 

        6 years ago

        I'am refinishing my mom's hoosier ? that her mother inlaw bought for her when she married my dad. The cabinet has a porcelin top that slides out and it has a red stripe around it. can anyone tell me the mfgr.?It has a round mirror in the middle door and a flor bin. maedae911@aol.com thanks

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        you are absolutely right - typo, sorry

      • profile image

        riskymischief 

        6 years ago

        It's furniture from the 20th century, right? Not the 19th century!!

      • profile image

        Courtney 

        6 years ago

        I just got my Hoosier for $7 at a Garage Sale and I love it!

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        I'd have a local antiques dealer look at it

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        I'd have a local antiques dealer look at it

      • profile image

        Lori 

        6 years ago

        Hi Marye,

        I was given my godmother's bakers hutch (that's what my family calls it). I cannot find a tag so don't know what brand it is. It needs some repair/refinishing. The read keeper is what we are worried about. It has been painted once. Any suggestions?

        Thanks.

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        6 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        Cindy - the pictures aren't large enough or detailed enough for me to see much. You have the bottom only of the cabinet, it looks as if the hardware has been replaced and it has been painted. It also looks like it isn't in great condition. I am not an appraiser but I would guess that you would not get more than 150.00 for that cabinet if I am right about the changes to it. I'd have a local dealer or appraiser look at it.

      • profile image

        Cindy (Cshell) 

        6 years ago

      • profile image

        Cindy (Cshell) 

        6 years ago

        I recently "uncovered" a bottom piece of a Napanee cabinet. the label says Napanee on the left half and Coppes, Inc. on the right half. It has a tin draw, a draw for silverware, another draw and a two door bottom with the bread board in it and a little metal rack on the door. What do you think the current value is???? Thank you.

      • profile image

        kim 

        6 years ago

        I have a free standing Napanee enamel top cabinet that has one door and a slide out shelf inside with a bottle rack I assume on the back side of the door. It also has a drawer with a pull out cutting board above the drawer. I can't find any information about this particular cabinet. Mine is in great shape. I wish I knew more about it.

      • profile image

        Kellie 

        6 years ago

        Sandy, you got an AWESOME deal! I'm looking for a hoosier (any brand) for an historic village in Iowa where I volunteer. I wouldn't hesitate at that price! Anyone know of someone getting rid of one at a reasonable price? kellies16@toast.net

      • profile image

        mary 

        7 years ago

        Yes, you got a good deal. You can find the glass bowl on ebay.

      • profile image

        Sandy 

        7 years ago

        I just bought one at an auction a few days ago for $160. It has all the original hardware along with the flour bin and the read keeper rolls from the bottom up. It still has the ring to put a bowl into I think that is what it is for. What I am wondering is the possible worth of it . Did I get a good deal or what. I have always wanted one. the enamil table is blue and white not the red and white I am use to seeing.

      • American Romance profile image

        American Romance 

        7 years ago from America

        A point of interest most should know is "Hoosier" is also a term for several brands of cabinets built in Indiana, We own a McDougall 1898, and a Sellers 1915, Anyone would walk up and call them Hoosiers' Lots of confusion on this to some! Interesting article!

      • profile image

        Donna 

        7 years ago

        Love the Hoosier. I found an old one I'm refinishing right now ! But what really caught my eye was the dish ON the hoosier. I just received some dishes that look just like that one. The clear one with white 'bumps' on them. I think they are from Denmark ? Anyone know anything about these dishes ? Thanks, email me if you have any info. dlightbown@shaw.ca

      • Marye Audet profile imageAUTHOR

        Marye Audet 

        8 years ago from Lancaster, Texas

        mary-

        I would just tape over it and refinish with out trying to take it off I think...

      • profile image

        mary Sandgren 

        8 years ago

        Marye,

        I have an actual Hoosier Cabinet, made by the Hoosier Cabinet Co in Indiana. I am trying to refinish. My problem is the name plate on the front. The plate is so thin and held on by small nail, when I try to remove it, it splits. How can I get this thing off without destroying it? I want the tag!!

      • angelaglancy profile image

        angelaglancy 

        8 years ago from Seattle

        These hoosier cabinets make a wonderful addition to any country kitchen. Nice hub.

      • profile image

        matt 

        8 years ago

        restoring hoosier with plastic red knobs on doors . Is that original

      • Joy At Home profile image

        Joilene Rasmussen 

        9 years ago from United States

        My mother rescued my grandmother's Hoosier-type cabinet, where it had been in storage in an outbuilding for many years, and refinished it and turned it into a computer work station. Grandpa had painted it at some point with red machinery enamel (he wasn't the kind to want to have to re-do something!), so the refinishing took a bit of work, but she loves it.

        She had plans to have my carpenter father make a new, custom one when they remodel the kitchen. I can't wait to see how it turns out. She's had inspiring pictures posted on her "dream board" for months.

      • Montana Farm Girl profile image

        Montana Farm Girl 

        9 years ago from Northwestern Montana

        Love your hub, the pictures are fab!! When we bought our little homestead, there were a few things we now treasure, left on the property, one of which is an old hoosier. It is tattered and torn, but with some tlc we can bring it back to its original state! We love it!!!

      • kerryg profile image

        kerryg 

        9 years ago from USA

        My parents have an antique one in their kitchen (family heirloom). It's a beautiful piece of furniture, and definitely still useful, too.

      • prasetio30 profile image

        prasetio30 

        9 years ago from malang-indonesia

        thanks for share, great kitchen set.

      • izzytellsall profile image

        izzytellsall 

        9 years ago

        My wife bought a hoosier cabinet when we were first married and what a beast that was to move each time! But she loved it for many, many years. Finally gave it up when we moved across the country, but until then it was one of her favorite pieces of furniture. Very durable and also really versatile--when it didn't fit in the kitchen (depending on the house), it always found a helpful place in the dining room.

      • Cdejarnatt profile image

        Cdejarnatt 

        9 years ago from NE Florida

        I have an one of these in storage. It is too large for my present kitchen or otherwise I would utilize it. I'm not sure if it is a true "Hoosier" though. I'll have to check for a tag.

      • C.S.Alexis profile image

        C.S.Alexis 

        9 years ago from NW Indiana

        Interesting subject and history. I am a Hoosier so that hit home and I knew nothing of this type furniture but i see quite a few of them in local homes. You put meaning to them, for me with this write. Thanks!

      • Gypsy Willow profile image

        Gypsy Willow 

        9 years ago from Lake Tahoe Nevada USA , Wales UK and Taupo New Zealand

        Nice piece of nostalgia. My Mum had something similar in her 1940s home . It had a pull down flap of enamel and glass fronted doors on top. Underneath was a fitted drawer for cutlery and a few cupboards She cooked for the family of 5 on this tiny workspace . She hated it, but I wish I had it now.

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