Some don’t consider the stove with six burners and a warming oven beside the main oven antique. These folks find the sink with ceramic backsplash and drain boards a thing to shrug off as not antique. Antique they are, but they are not furnishings. Furnishings back in the day consisted of wrought iron baker’s racks. These either squatted on the floor with a couple shelves, or they towered over small bodies in search of a cookie. Pans containing cakes, pies, breads and cookies were placed on the baker’s racks to cool before they could be cut. Many ladies kept their cake and bread pans on the lower shelves, while the top shelves held sumptuous foods for cooling.
Great-grandma’s kitchen had plenty of cabinet space, but sometime she needed more. She usually got 50 lb. bags of flour and sugar, in addition to huge bags of cornmeal. She got large cans of lard. When great-grandma canned the harvest, she had masses of fruits and vegetables to put up. Where did she put it all? She put it in pie safes. Pie safes were usually made out of heavy knotty pine. They stood around five to six feet tall and contained several drawers and a cabinet area. On top of the pie safe, she might have stored her canning equipment or empty Ball jars. What are now vintage kitchen cabinets, rising hip-high, sat around the kitchen to hold the overflow.
Another example of antique kitchen furniture was the dry sink. It occupied a cabinet around 3 feet tall and about 3 feet wide. It was usually constructed of oak or heavy pine. Underneath was cabinetry which usually held towels and soaps. On the top was located a shallow dry sink. It was usually lined with zinc. Beside the sink was a shelf holding towels, soaps, perhaps a mirror and crockery. Inside the sink was usually a bowl and pitcher. When the men-folks came in from working in the fields, they would “wash up” for supper. They did this because grandma usually had the kitchen spread over with pans, dishes, foods and children underfoot. Today, such an area could, indeed, contain a bowl and pitcher, but more likely it would contain cookbooks, extra kitchen towels, oven mitts and pot holders.
While not considered furniture, per se, also found in kitchens in great-grandma’s day were the wrought iron recipe book holder and the supper bell. The bell hung on the back porch and was rung when supper was nearing completion. In the winter, the black iron pot-bellied stove would be heated up so the rooms in which they dined would be warm.