Now that Kate has flown my coop, I have decided to embark on a new project: Creating The Retro Renovation® Encyclopedia of Vintage Steel Kitchen Cabinets. Collected over the course of 10years — often with the help of many readers — we know all the 80 brands, from Ace & Acme to York & Youngstown. I have many of the brochures. Now, it’s time to become best friends with my $900 scanner and get the Encyclopedia organized. First up: Shirley All-Steel Kitchens, of Indianapolis, Indiana. It’s first because it was sitting at the top of my pile. For, like, six months.
Tip to view photos: On a desktop computer, click on any photo and it should double in size (up to 1,000 pixels wide) on screen. Hit ESC or anywhere off the photo to return to the story.
According to my 16-page catalog, Shirley All-Steel Kitchens were made by the Shirley Corporation– and clearly, this was a family venture because the president was John W. Shirley. His obituary was published in the Indianapolis Star on Oct. 23, 1985. (A credit card was required for the free trial, so I ditched.)
I’m guess that Shirley Corp. was a descendant company or renaming of Shirley Radiator and Foundry Co.
Features that may distinguish this brand from others:
- Surely (Shirley!): The logo on the sink cabinet
- + Look inside the sink base door, there may be a label
- Likely: the air vents on the sink cabinets
- Likely: the steel sink designs (see p. 7 for its feature) — Shirley likely had their own stamping press just for their sinks
- Possibly: the what not shelf (see p. 14)
- Possibly: very simple cabinet pulls
Other than these… this kitchen looks to be a pretty “standard” design — full overlay slab doors with knife hinge… cabinets in a variety of sizes… simple looking cabinet pulls.
Made a bathroom vanity, too:
- BUT also check out this steel bathroom vanity — steel bathroom vanities are rare, and this one also includes a steel sink-top and groovy door pulls — and it’s pink — nice!
The circa 1952 Shirley Steel Kitchen Cabinets catalog:
Above: A close-up look at the Formica options. Countertops also were available “in any standard gauge linoleum or maple wood…”