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Berger Steel Cabinets for Kitchens — a catalog from 1949

One of my goals for 2019 is to work diligently at filling out The Retro Renovation® Encyclopedia of Vintage Steel Kitchen Cabinets. I have about 85 brands identified, and now the question is, do I have catalogs for all of them? I may well, and here’s a first set of uploads to share, for: Berger Steel Cabinets, made by the Berger Manufacturing Division of Republic Steel Corporation, Canton 5, Ohio. There’s a price list with a notation suggesting this catalog is from 1949.

Going through all my brochures, really reading them, and annotating key findings will help me pull together an even more well-researched, more granular history of steel kitchen cabinets

For example, we already know there were also Republic Steel Kitchen cabinets made by Republic Steel. I suspect that Bergers came first — typically / likely through acquisition — and that with a few short years, Republic just took over the name. Mark this catalog: 1949. Now let me see how it fits in the timeline with the Republic steel kitchens material I can come up with.

The other reason to show these catalogs is to help owners of cabinets today identify their. For example, I am not seeing a logo on these Bergers. Logos (later?) became common on the sink base. So if you have a set of Bergers, you will need to identify it by its features — voila: Catalog to help!

This is a really big catalog. For this story, an overview, I excerpted.

Above: Sink cabinets. 

There were A LOT of cabinet sizes — I don’t show them all.

This catalog is interesting because it’s very nitty-gritty — shows the man of the house or perhaps that’s your local lumber store installer — actually doing the installation.

I this was the lumber store copy — it’s a heavy duty catalog with a price list at the back.

Above: Wow, a line of 20″ deep cabinets — along with a “roll rim” sink that’s only 20″ deep. This is very old-style.

Republic Steel was a ginormous company. I think that a lot of Berger steel kitchen cabinets … then, a lot of Republic Steel Kitchen Cabinets were sold back in the day.

Scribes and fillers!

Accessories!

Installation instructions are included — these Bergers hung on steel hanger thingies. I am going to feature these separately, as I often get questions about how to un-install steel kitchen cabinets. I’ll post just those pages with a headline that gets me the right google juice.

You could have any color kitchen as long as it was white.

Make that dream a reality!

I have lots more info about vintage (and new!) steel kitchen cabinets:

  1. Joseph says:

    Peerless-Mayer kitchen cabinets from early 1960’s
    Does anyone know what material they were made of?
    ( Metal, Steel, Aluminum)

    Does anyone know how to remove the cabinet doors, I’ve absolutely no idea of how to do it?

    Cheers

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      I tend to believe they are steel – but you should be able to determine that by trying a magnet on them.

      There are so many brands — 80+ — that we don’t have guidance on the other question.

  2. Lisa Compo says:

    I can’t help but thinking that this extensive compilation of the history of the cabinets would make an excellent book. I’m sure you don’t have the time to put all the info here AND write a book, but it just seems like a cool, big, coffee table book. A slick, shiny cover with a beautiful kitchen from yesteryear on the front….and all the good info and stories inside. Could even feature your readers who have done The Hard Way of collecting and Retro Renovating their kitchens. Maybe you could get rich off of it. ?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      I believe you are referring to the wood window valance. Those were a thing back in the day. Not part of the cabinet line. I have three in my “museum” collection.

      1. Mb Shea says:

        Marybeth here, the rose and geranium lady. I do too and am using all thrifted scallop board in a number of places:

        wood valences/cornice boxes in three windows, with curtain rods of dowels incorporated. Two more underway.

        Cutting small scallop board to trim out gap between kitchen cabs and roofline. Trick is that the gap is on a slant made worse by a 2011 earth quake in non earthquake country!

        Also found metal scallop trim that I am applying to aluminum siding….

        SoS — Save our Scallop!

  3. CarolK says:

    It’s interesting to see that these cabinets have features that anticipate features found in recent cabinet construction: slide out shelves, corner units, soft close doors, ball bearing drawer slides.

  4. Crystal says:

    We’ve cobbled together enough steel cabinets for our kitchen restoration and getting ready to send them off to be painted. Question to Pam or any others who might have installed the steel cabinets. How did you hang them??

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Crystal, I am not an expert on how to hang them. Each brand also may have had different requirements. On issues like this: I suggest talk to pros.

      1. Carolyn says:

        If you could contact poor Ben from “Home Town”, he could maybe help. He and his friend were trying everything under the sun to get some cabinets down off the wall and accidentally popped one up to discover they hang on teeth. Either on the back of the cabinet to fit in slots or vice-versa. He looked suitably abashed at over-thinking an extremely simple method. And, I think they found a use for the ones they removed.

        1. Pam Kueber says:

          The Bergers hang on teeth, so to speak. Hanger thingies. I don’t know which brands have systems like this though…

  5. Reader Deb says:

    Strange that they didn’t offer undersink cabinets with the sinks included. Or were they offered on pages not shown here?

    1. Pam Kueber says:

      Hi Deb, there were many more pages I didn’t include… I excerpted. But you are right in that sink bases are important including to help in identification, so I will add those pages!

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