Hoosier cabinets are a form of cupboard which became popular in the first half of the 20th century.
Brief history and description
Named after the Hoosier Manufacturing Company, the cabinets suited the changing needs of the consumer, where social mobility and a changing job structure led to many people moving from larger homes in the country to smaller homes in the city, necessitating a more compact furniture form than was previously available.
The popularity of separating the dining and sitting room areas also helped to cement the increasingly desirable Hoosier’s reputation, as it facilitated the safe storage of an increasing variety of objects.
The cabinets were originally designed in oak or pine, and contained a pull-out work surface, several shelves on the interior, as well as an upper section designed for the storage of dry goods and baking products. The stylistic elements of the cabinets evolved over time, with later models featuring enamelling, a concentration on colouration, and increasingly elaborately designed legs.
Guide for collectors
Hoosiers have become widely sought after antique items, combining efficiency with a very particular style. Due to their storage capabilities, the cabinets have a great degree of usability as well as their aesthetic function.
Hoosier cabinets are rarely sold for high prices, and were designed with functionality and practicality in mind, so whilst the cabinets are often plain, they were designed with longevity in mind, and therefore are often in very good condition, as well as being available at relatively accessible prices. The cabinets can be found not only at many auction houses but at a wide variety of antique shops, and their authenticity as antiques can be fairly easily established by specialists.
As with many pieces of its kind, a Hoosier cabinet in need of any form of restoration will be more inexpensive than a piece in perfect condition, and it is therefore up to the collector to decide whether they are willing to cover the cost of any repairs if they choose this option.
Notable auction sales
The most expensive Hoosier cabinet to sell at auction was an English Hoosier style cabinet by Mother Hubbard, sold from San Rafael Auction Gallery on 4th February 2006 for $1,500. This was closely followed in price by a green Schoenhut Hoosier kitchen cabinet, which sold from Noel Barrett on 9th December 2005 for $1, 300, far surpassing its auction estimate of $300-500. At a similar price-point is the sale of a vintage Deco Style porcelain Hoosier cabinet, auctioned from Victorian Casino Antiques on 12th March 2011 for $850.
In the middling price range, a Boone oak Hoosier cabinet dated from 1900 sold for $550 from DuMouchelles on 14th January 2005, and an early oak Hoosier cabinet sold for $380 from Bloomington Auction on 15th April 2011, whilst Susanin’s Auctions sold a white painted Hoosier cabinet on 21st August 2010 for $200.
The lowest price paid for a Hoosier cabinet was at an auction on 28th October 2006, where a Hoosier white painted porcelain top kitchen cabinet sold for just $5 from Homestead Auctions. Similarly, a vintage Hoosier kitchen cabinet in green and red was sold at Affiliated Auctions on 4th March 2005 for just $50.