My vintage Republic Steel Kitchen cabinets salesman’s at-home presentation kit — includes rare Easel Presentation — 24 photos

salesman-sample-kit-3Back in the day, the salesman selling steel kitchen cabinets would actually come to your house. He would carry with him a briefcase. Inside: An entire kit full of little kitchen cabinets that could be assembled to create the kitchen of Mrs. America’s dreams. In the very early days of my research to recreate my vintage kitchen, I scored a Republic Steel Kitchen salesman’s kit on ebay — and it’s extra special, because it includes the large, full-color, spiral bound ‘easel brochure’ — 34 pages! — too. I can’t believe I never showed this wonderful steel kitchen cabinet salesman’s kit on the blog before — it’s fantastic!

vintage salesman sample kitchen plannersalesman-sample-kit-2-3Above: This salesman’s sample and selling kit must have cost Republic Kitchens a fortune to produce. Inside the kit, all the little cabinets.  There is a refrigerator… a range… several sink bases in different sizes… doors…. windows… base cabinets… wall cabinets…. and corner cubbies, both wall and base. “My salesman” magic-markered where each cabinet should go. My kit appears to be quite complete.

vintage kitchen planner steThe idea: Mrs. America would come into the kitchen store and talk to the salesman there… Then, he would follow up with a visit to her home, where the deal would progress in stages.

salesman-sample-kit-4-3salesman-sample-kit-1-3Above: The back of each Republic ‘cabinet’  is marked with its size. Each little piece corresponds with an actual cabinet that you could order. Note, ironicallyish, the leetle cabinets are made of plastic, not steel.

salesman-sample-kit-3-3Above: There is a measuring tape that came with the kit. As part of the at-home selling process, the salesman would measure the homeowner’s kitchen so that with them, he could mock up their dream kitchen using the pieces in the kit.


Above: A quickie kitchen design I made for this photo shoot… I actually used this set to help design my own kitchen and imagine how it would flow. At various times when I’ve had people … reporters, photographers … come to the house to see the kitchen, I also would set this Republic set up — and they were just as fascinated with it as with my actual kitchen!

salesman-sample-kit-4salesman-sample-kit-5 salesman-sample-kit-6 steel kitchen cabinets salesmans kit salesman-sample-kit-8 salesman-sample-kit-9 salesman-sample-kit-10Above: The big salesman’s presentation is fantastic — chock full of amazing images to entice Mrs. Homeowner into buying.

salesman-sample-kit-6-3Above: There were five designs of Formica in the kit. I presume that Republic wanted to sell you the counter top, too. According to Grace Jeffers‘ master’s degree thesis, this pattern — Moonglo — was introduced on Sept. 27, 1948 at the Third National Plastics Exposition in New York city. It was conceived by designer Morris Sanders before World War II, but not brought to market until after. It was available in six colors — gray, tan, yellow, fiesta (the red you see above) and blue. Grace says that the pattern remained in the Formica collection until the later half of the 1950s. She says that the pattern mimics fiberglass, a popular leitmotif of the postwar era. I love that word — “leitmotif”. I need to use it more often!

In the kit I purchased, there were four pieces of Formica. The other was a gray Mother of Pearl — a super popular pattern. The kit instructions say it came with five Formica samples. I do not know what the fifth would have been — I will guess, one more color of either of these two designs, likely that Republic would feature the most popular palettes.

salesman-sample-kit-13 salesman-sample-kit-14 salesman-sample-kit-15
salesman-sample-kit-20Above: At the very end of the presentation deck, there is a special section just for the salesman to read. It instructs him exactly how to conduct the in-house sales meeting… how to use the kit… and how to complete the follow-up driving toward the sale. My favorite little tidbit:

1. You dissatisfy your prospect with her present kitchen … by showing her examples of efficient, beautiful kitchens and problem-solving ideas…

Tee hee. American marketeers haven’t changed a bit. Except that instead of buying new kitchen cabinets made today…. I’m buying salesman sample kits. This is actually just one of four in my collection. I also own a set like this for Youngstown Steel kitchen cabinets — no big color presentation brochure, though. I own a much less complex “Plan your kitchen kit” that was sold or given away by Con Edison. And, one of my favorite finds is an old wood-block set of Curtis Kitchen cabinet models.

These days, there are usually one or two of these kits (various manufacturers) on ebay. They have become pretty expensive — $250 for a kit seems to be a going rate. However, most kits do not have the easel presentation, at least whenever I check the status of current auction inventory. *Nananananana dance.* I hope you enjoyed this one!

  1. Miranda says:

    Hey there, Pam…I don’t know if you bother reading these comments a year + later BUT this kit is amazing AND I just moved into a rental house with a Republic Steel Kitchen. I’ve posted pictures on my blog. Some dumbo spray painted them black and has attached some sort of horrible white laminate countertop.

    My landlord doesn’t seem to care what I do so I’m taking it upon myself to semi-restore these things (plus I don’t want to live with the eye sore!) so I was curious your thoughts on the matter…..would you restore back to the classic white (which I know these were. Said dumbo left the insides and the backs white) or I reallly like the idea of the 2 colors from the 60s (blue top cabinets, yellow bottom). I guess I’m worried about not being 100% true to the cabinets but white is boring (in this regard). I want to have some fun! And really try to appreciate these things because as they are…I hate them.

    Since I will be painting these myself, in my yard or basement, do you have any tips? I of course will continue to read your kitchen reno. I’m sure tips are there! 🙂

    1. pam kueber says:

      Miranda, we have a big archive of stories on vintage steel kitchens cabinets, check out all our stories there, They are in Kitchen Help / Steel kitchens.

      Be aware of possibility of lead paint — get your own properly licensed professional advice on how to handle.

  2. J. Flowers says:

    12-31-14 I used to work for Rep Stl Mfg, Youngstown, Oh as a draftsman in the Engineerfing Dept. I worked on all Truscon and Berger products. I am the only one alive who detailed the Kitchen Cabinets and Metal Housing. Everybody else died years ago.

    Jonathan P. Flowers

  3. retrobradatlanta says:

    Pam, what a great find!!! What a gift to have as an aid in planning your vintage kitchen! I love the site & thanks for keeping us junkies “addicted.”
    My background is in architecture & design but my heart is in “junking” in the retro world. I collect from deco to mid-century modern kitsch, toys, trains, home plan books, world’s fair and MCM items to decorate my condo. It is rather a big mess right now but moving forward. My condo complex originally was designed as apts. in 1967 by Atlanta architect Robert Green who studied under FLW at Taliesen. It is modest compared to the fabulous homes he designed in the Atlanta area yet it is something special with the way the light plays thru the spaces. Unfortunately it is in a location that will be threatened in the future due to the land value.
    I’m currently trying to organize and display my main passion of collecting mid-century modern design items that are presented thru old building toys, old train buildings, dollhouses/ furniture, home plan guides, craft books, etc. I’d post some photos sometime if you want but not sure how. Thanks for all the love you all put into the site & happy collecting!

    1. Anna says:

      Just found a box full of metal kitchen cabinets and appliances (salesman’s samples) in our attic. Very similar to those posted by Pam Kueber, but with out display case and easel. Can sent you pics if you’re interested in purchasing. Thanks

  4. Linda says:

    Great score! Would love to know how much you paid for it. I checked ebay and there is one for $775.00. Out of my price range but I’d LOVE to have one.

  5. Neil says:

    Interesting that, of the three formica samples you show, the green and yellow appear to be printed to give the illusion of a concave texture, while the red appears to give the illusion of a convex texture.
    Also…when I was a little boy entranced by my toy stove and pots and pans, I would have killed for your tiny kitchen! Well, not killed maybe, but charmed the dickens out of you to pry it from your hands, for sure; or failing the success of that approach, I would have been coming to play with you (read: with your kitchen) often.

  6. Scott says:

    One of the great unsolved mysteries of our lifetimes will be why did steel kitchens fall out of favor. Love the Moonglow Formica and does Republic show us how to rock out a white kitchen and white appliances or what?

  7. TappanTrailerTami says:

    Wow, what a great little itty bitty kitchen set! I can’t believe you haven’t featured it before now either – it is so fun to look at!

    I just went and searched eBay for “salesman’s sample” – what a great category of things to look at. Everything from furniture, stoves, windmills, and the occasional very odd kit, like a set of salesman’s sample dentures. I guess you bought your teeth in the comfort of your home also, back in the day!

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