Remember all the New Old Stock vintage Beatrice West color-designed Caloric appliances – in scrumptious pink that we spotted and featured in 2011? Well, that set looked “complete,” but, no it wasn’t — because here is a recessed kitchen wrap dispenser to go with. Yum. And like the full appliance set — which a reader found ON THE CURB waiting for the trash — this vintage Caloric Caddie kitchen wrap dispenser is NOS in its original packaging.
Reader Nancy has just listed her New Old Stock (NOS) pink Caloric kitchen appliances and sink on ebay. You can snap ’em up for $9,499 plus shipping, or take your chances and negotiate. If anyone here buys these, I need to hear about it, so’s I can do a follow-up story once they’re installed. Good luck!
(link long gone)
Reader Nancy recently made an exciting and valuable discovery in a neighbor’s pile set out for the trash man: A set of vintage Caloric kitchen appliances and sink — New Old Stock, still in the original boxes. Including: Built-in oven with warming drawer (?), gas cooktop, splash back, range hood, double-bowl sink, and brochures. Oh: In luminous pink pink pink. Five years into the blog, and I don’t see this too often. Moreover, I became very intrigued when Nancy asked me if I knew anything about Beatrice West, who was credited on one of the boxes for the color styling. I LOVE learning about — and helping to rediscover — once-famous, now forgotten (?) design personalities from the mid-century years. Read on for what I’ve found out about Beatrice West — oh, and see 15 more photos of Nancy’s NOS pink kitchen loveliness — which she is looking to sell. Heck yeah there is more →
This is the “trend-setting new ‘PIONEER’ by American Kitchen” – 1956 – “color styled by Beatrice West.” I find it so fascinating. It was right about this time that steel kitchen cabinets started to lose their battle against wood. But it was a slow death. And along the way they decided they’d rather switch than fight. That is, these cabinets have wooden doors…steel drawers – with a coppertone (or possibly real copper???) finish drawer cover… and all steel bodies. Kind of, the best of both worlds. Other makers, like St. Charles and Youngstown show an alternative approach — all wood on the base cabinets, all steel on the walls. I think that one of the main issues they may have been addressing was dented doors. Little Billy on his trike and all.
The ad above notes that there were antique copper appliances to match, if you wanted up buy up:
For more elaborate kitchens, additional cabinets and accessories can be added, as well as matching antique copper appliances such as the famous American Kitchens Roto-Tray Dishwasher, the new American Kitchens Set-In Countertop Range, and the new American Kitchens Set-In Waist-High Oven. Both range and oven available in gas or electric models.
I don’t really understand whether “antique copper” means REAL copper, or coppertone.
Great kitchen also in its streaky brown floors, cool roller shades, and simple breakfast bar. And I even love the chartreuse walls / reddish coppertone / light birch color scheme. Hey, look beyond to the dining room — it’s those pecky-cypress-paneled walls, which we saw last week in the scary kitchen photo. I saw them in another magazine the other day. I’m on the lookout for real now! Oh, and be sure and open the thumbnail, to get the best look hubby on the indoor bbq.
It was a big day in Tallahassee — June 25, 1962 — and McDuff Appliances was having its big Grand Opening on North Monroe. Ooooooh, let’s look inside! Credit: State Archives of Florida/Slade Heck yeah there is more →
How long might it take to pull together a historic kitchen of your dreams? How about: seven years — and that includes buying the house. Yes, I checked, and my first email from Jennifer was in Dec. 2011 — seven years ago — when she was “house hunting in the burbs.” She recently updated me that in the years since, she’d found a new house and is finishing up on remodeling a “new” kitchen full of salvaged American Kitchens brand cabinets designed by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy. In fact, she has become quite the Loewy expert, and her house includes more his designs, including Rosenthal china, a Sunbeam toaster, Le Creuset Coquelle dutch oven, Mengel furniture, and Borg bathroom scale. Still, the big story is: Those cabinets!Heck yeah there is more →
From Ace & Acme to Yorktown & Youngstown:
Our guide to
80 82 83 84 85 86 …90+ brands of metal kitchen
cabinets made after World War II
The product that started it all — the blog, that is: Vintage steel kitchen cabinets. I wanted to renovate my kitchen. Vintage steel kitchen cabinets entered my consciousness. I went on a five-year quest to find a set. Along the way I also obsessively researched how to put a 1950s-1960s kitchen together. When I was all done, it turned out so well that I started the blog to share what I had learned. In my cabinet-quest, I already had identified many brands of steel kitchen cabinets made back in the day. And in the years since — very often with the help of readers — we have identified 90+ different brands of metal kitchen cabinets built before, during but most after World War II — mostly steel, mostly in the U.S.
Note: In Summer 2019, I began my mega-quest to finish this encyclopedia! Will I be able to stick with it? We’ll see!
First up, please read:
Then dive in:
90+/- brands of metal kitchen cabinets made in the U.S. — pretty amazing, huh!
- Acme Metal Products Corp., Chicago, Illinois, as early as 1938 reference
- See this story with photos of Acme sink base from 1948
- American Kitchens of Connersville, Indiana. Parent company was Avco Manufacturing Company, and the cabinets were produced by their American Central Division.
- Historic bones: Designed by famed industrial designer Raymond Loewy and his company. Faucets for the sink top that went with these cabinets still sold today!
- Six American-brand kitchens from 1953
- The unique American “Pioneer” kitchen with its birch doors, copper drawers — color-styled by (our) famed Beatrice West.
- I do not believe there was any familial relationship between American Kitchens and American-Standard Kitchens. These were two different companies in two different locations and with different cabinets designs.
- 1953 American-Standard steel kitchens catalog
- “Standard” was the original or earlier name of the company (perhaps Standard merged with American? Need to confirm). See this 1938 catalog of Standard kitchen cabinets — in colors!
- Famed industrial designer Walter Dorwin Teague (second reference here) and his company had a relationship with American-Standard Plumbing fixtures; unknown whether they also consulted on cabinet designs.
- Ampco, Rosedale, Mississippi
- I believe these were the same cabinets as Regency. See entry below. The reason: The unique handles are the same source for comparison here.
- Art Metal Cabinets, Jamestown, New York, as early as 1938 reference
- Beautycraft Custom
- Beauty Queen — a subsidiary brand of Toledo Desk & Fixture Corp., Maumee, Ohio
- Belknap Hardware & Manufacturing Company
- Berger, made by Berger Manufacturing of Canton, Ohio, part of Republic Steel Corp. Predecessors were Berloys, and Bergers appear to have morphed into Republics (see separate entries).
- See my Berger Steel Cabinets for Kitchens catalog from 1949. This company was owned by Republic Steel. Berger steel kitchen cabinets may subsequently have been subsumed by Republic Steel Kitchen cabinets.
- Berloy, made by Berger Manufacturing of Canton, Ohio, part of Republic Steel Corp. A predecessor of Bergers, which themselves seem to have morphed to Republics (see separate entries)
- Blietz Construction, Chicago; maybe; (added per spotting by Jim, Sept. 2016)
- Briggs Beautyware
- An early maker with 12 colors as early as 1938! Made by auto body maker Briggs Manufacturing Co. based in Detroit.
- Crane, designed by Henry Dreyfuss, I am pretty sure. I have a brochure from 1936, so this is among the early brands, I think.
- See this 1953 catalog from my personal collection.
- I also have a brochure from 1936 — need to dig it out.
- Dreyfuss shown in catalog next to new 1956 Crane steel kitchens, available in white and four colors, here.
- Crosley — also designed by Raymond Loewy
- Dieterich Steel Cabinet Corp., Chicago, Illinois — as early as 1933. .
- Dupont-Dulux — immediately recognizable for its distinctive streamline moderne design including its die cut sink base doors; probably an early maker. Unclear whether these were branded Dupont or whether that was just the paint finish; more research required.
- Elgin, Elgin Stove Company, Elgin, Illinois
- First shown at 1939 New York World’s Fair. Designed by famed industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes. This photo suggests Bel Geddes also designed Servel’s steel kitchen cabinets.
- A major brand of steel kitchen cabinets — and oh my, how GE innovated in so many related ways, too! I have quite a few stories.
- Precursor was Modern Kitchen Cabinets, both of Geneva, Illinois
- I have many stories about Geneva Kitchen Cabinets, one of the top-three brands
- I have original finish Genevas in my kitchen — they are what lead to the creation of this blog!
- Hallmark Custom Steel Kitchen Cabinets
- Manufactured in Wellsburg, W. Va.
- Steel cabinets, but cabinets made of
- Aluminum kitchen cabinet introduced 1948
- Harrison Steel Cabinet Co., Chicago
- Humphreys Manufacturing
- J&L Steel, likely Jones & Laughlin Steel Co. of Pittsburgh, Pa., (thanks, Chris!)
- I am really thinking Kelvinator made steel kitchen cabinets — see the photo here and here
- Kitchen Kraft
- Kitchen Queen — note, I do not think this is a brand — it is one of the Crane sink base designs that I spotted in my 1956 catalog. But I will leave it here from now just in case.
- Yes, as in Levittown!
- We suspect they made their own steel cabinets for their steel houses. Thanks, Jim!
- Leisure Made
- Majestic Stove Company
- 1923 source found indicating they may had “more elaborate cabinets” than just kitchenets or apartment alcove units — suggests there may have been an early “fitted” kitchen — need to find illustrations! Evolved from Powell, then into Murphy Cabranettes. See this story.
- Marvel Metal Manufacturing Company, Chicago, Illinois
- See 1950 catalog and info. Sold as Westline Steel Kitchen Cabinets by Western Auto Dealers.
- Midwest Mfg. Company, Galesburg, Illinois
- Miller Metal Products, Inc.
- Modern Steel Co., Geneva, Ill.
- Precursor to Geneva Kitchen Cabinets
- Montgomery Ward
- 1941 catalog of Montgomery Ward steel kitchen cabinets
- Later marketed as Signature by Montgomery Ward. Reference.
- Morgan Kitchen Cabinet
- Morhand Kitchens
- Morton, of Libertyville, Illinois, beginning in 1942.
- Murphy Cabranettes, made by Murphy Door Bed Co. and later, Dwyer Products Corp.
- Big story here — the earliest fitted kitchen I’ve validated so far.
- Likely an evolution of Powell and Majestics; then, evolved into Dwyer.
- Olympia Aluminum Kitchen Kabinets, Olympia, Wash.
- Made by Western Metalcraft / Metalware in both aluminum and steel
- Story here.
- Palley Manufacturing Co.
- Paul (U.K.)
- Powell Steel Gas Kitchens
- As early as 1919 — but may only have been kitchenets or unitized apartment alcove kitchens. Sold exclusively by Murphy Bed Door Co. and subsequently renamed Majestic, then Murphy Cabranettes. See this story.
- Regency, Rosedale, Mississippi
- Republic, made by Berger Manufacturing of Canton Ohio, which was part of Republic Steel Corp. Predecessors in this three-sibling family were Berloy steel cabinets and Berger steel cabinets (see separate entries).
- I have several stories about Republic Steel Kitchen cabinets, which seem to have been a well-advertised brand in the 1950s and likely into the 1960s.
- Reynolds — aluminum cabinets, possibly. reference
- Roberts & Mander Corp.
- St. Charles
- I have many stories about St. Charles cabinets. This was the creme de la creme manufacturer. St. Charles seems to have started in 1935 when it bought out Janes & Kirtland, maker of the “White House Line” steel “dressers”. Unclear whether Janes & Kirtland made unitized cabinets; see entry below.
- Sellers Kitchen Furniture, Elmwood, Indiana
- As early as 1939. Reference here.
- Servel, Evansville, Indiana
- This brand had a rare, museum-worthy feature. See my c. 1948 catalog.
- I also believe this brand of steel kitchen cabinets was designed by famed industrial designer Norman Bel Geddes.
- Shirley All-Steel Kitchens and bathroom cabinets
- A brand of Montgomery Ward (see above.) Set spotted in avocado green in Walworth, Wisconsin.
- Later merged with American to become American-Standard
- 1938 catalog including Standard steel kitchen cabinets here.
- Tracy, Tracy Manufacturing Company, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania reference
- Universal-Rundle, New Castle, Pennsylvania
- United Lifetime Kitchens
- United Metal Cabinet Corp./United Metal Box Co., Brooklyn
- Walters Steel-Fashioned Cabinets, Walters Manufacturing Co., Oakmont, Pennsylvania 1954 reference
- Westline Steel Kitchen Cabinets — sold by Western Auto dealer;
- See Marvel Metal Manufacturing Products, the manufacturer, story above.
- White House Line by Janes & Kirtland, St. Charles, Illinois
- Story here
- Importantly, Janes & Kirtland seems to have been bought out by St. Charles in 1935, although it continued with the White House Line for at least a few years. Janes & Kirtland was a longtime maker of ornamental iron and later, “steel dressers” in the vein of Hoosier cabinets. We’ve seen ‘extended’ dressers (1929), but still need to determine whether they made unitized cabinets (the subject of this Encyclopedia.)
- White Mountain
- Whitehead Monel
- Wood-Metal Kitchen Cabinets
- Youngstown, made by Mullins Manufacturing Company based in Warren, Ohio
- I have many many stories about Youngstown Steel Kitchen cabinets — without a doubt the most popular brand ever sold in America. One of the stories says that at one time they had some 40 manufacturing plants across the U.S.!
Metal kitchen cabinets made outside the U.S.:
I have not tried to identify steel and aluminum kitchen cabinets made outside the U.S. in the mid 20th Century. But I’ve started capturing them as I see them, including with the help of our wonderful readers!:
- Anemone Kitchen Furnishings (U.K.)
- English Rose (U.K.)(Aluminium)
- Galgo Steel Kitchens and Vanities — Mexico brand see reference here
- Kirby (Australia)
Note: In my compendium, I do not include companies that seemed only to have made single-unit items. That is, some companies made steel hoosier cabinets… some made only a sink base with sink… and companies like Dwyer made apartment kitchen combos. I don’t include these — I want to focus on companies that made complete kitchens with lots of mix-and-match models that you could order in bulk to fill out a typical family fitted kitchen. In this sense, I should probably not include Lustron on the big list above, as it was bespoke only for Lustron houses; I may take out of the list at some point — or perhaps make and put it into a supplementary list along with the other such units described in this section; pondering.
- Our complete steel kitchen cabinet category
- BE SAFE / RENOVATE SAFE — get informed when using vintage products.
- Four places to buy steel kitchen cabinets made new today
I scan, therefore, I am. For our reference and enjoyment today –10 photos — six kitchens — excerpted from a 1953 American Kitchens catalog in my personal collection. American Kitchens was the brand name for steel kitchen cabinets made by Avco Manufacturing Corp., of Connersville, Indiana. Avco American was among the major brands of the day, and we see these cabinets fairly often in the wild — in their natural habitat or on craigslist, etc. This brand also is noteworthy for its porcelain drainboard sink with the unique faucet — I get questions regularly about to get this faucet, new, which until quite recently was possible, can you believe it.Heck yeah there is more →
I am very interested in researching mid-mod topics — products, people, concepts — not covered widely in other online home and design media. One area ripe for more exploration: Women designers working in mid-century America. Today: Maria Kipp, a textile engineer and designer who led her own successful company, Maria Kipp, Inc., in Los Angeles from 1926 through the 1977. Her hand-woven textile designs — used for draperies, upholstery and lampshades — were specified by some of the most famous modernist designers. Now that I’ve discovered vintage Maria Kipp textiles and lampshades, I understand why. They are Exquisite. Just exquisite.Heck yeah there is more →
When I discovered this awesome New Old Stock pink Caloric Caddie a few weeks ago, a new world was opened up to me. The world of awesome Caloric Caddies, presumably also color coordinated by Beatrice West. Upon my eyes awakening, numerous readers clued me into other Caloric Caddies in the series. Above: A seemingly rare Caloric Telephone Caddie — that’s a message area behind the big white door — from Etsy seller Gallivanting Girls. This Caddie was already sold, but the gracious Gallivanting Girls gave permission. More Caddies — and more closeups of this one — if you gallivant onward…