Friday, March 16, 2012

16 March 1919: "Save miles of needless steps, hours of wasted time and energy"

On this day in 1919, Bernstein Brothers furniture store ran this ad for the popular Hoosier Kitchen Cabinet:

(click to enlarge image)

Kitchen cabinets of this type were made by more than just the Hoosier Manufacturing company of New Castle, Indiana, but any cabinets that acted as pantry/workstations for the kitchen were often referred to generically as "hoosier cabinets."

These new cabinets typically had a cupboard set back from a work service, sometimes metal-covered or marble, with shelves and designated spaces for dishes, bowls, and pantry goods all within easy reach. The work service could pull out to provide more space for working or even to act as a kitchen table for meals.

The cabinet displayed in the Bernstein Brothers ad included built-in flour sifters, sugar dispenser, spice rack, and even a cookbook holder. Some drawers were lined with metal and intended to keep cakes or bread fresh. 

The cabinets are considered "scientific" in their ability to create "household efficiency," both important sales words in a time when Frank and Lillian Gilbreth were studying and developing more efficient ways to do a variety of work, including home management.

The ad promotes the payment options for the cabinet as well as their usefulness. Hoosier Manufacturing Company was one of the earliest adopters of the payment plan to move their goods into more homes, with the $1 down, $1 per week promotions. This allowed their dealers to sell the item as an affordable luxury for most any family.

Today, hoosier cabinets are considered antiques, with websites devoted to their care and collection, and spare parts available on eBay. Cabinets sell between $2,200-900, depending upon their condition.

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