Unique Early American Furniture- Pie Safe

The safe in the early 1800’s was a wooden kitchen cupboard with several narrow cupboards locked with fitted doors. Doors were made of a variety of materials, including punched tin, grill work, screens, or fabric. Although the pie safe was designed to protect sweet foods from rats and insects, the construction allowed air circulation. Air circulation was actually a coincidentally positive feature, as it helped reduce the growth of mold on stored foods. With a lack of modern refrigerators and food preservatives, Cook had no choice but to insure the freshness and safety of his cakes.


The Standard American Pie Safe stood on the floor supported by 4 legs. However, in the Dutch region of Pennsylvania, hanging models were popular during the 18th century. Some of the pie safes in this area have wood extensions with holes, allowing the piece to rest or hang on the floor. In general, doors in the Dutch area of ​​Pennsylvania were made of tinware, displaying unique and intriguing designs. By 1830, Tin Smith was making quality doors, while cabinet makers had mastered the art of making more durable wardrobes. The centerpiece of these cabinets was Connecticut.

Regional differences

It is possible to identify the area of ​​the country where the safe was made by the type of wood used in construction.

Yellow pine is commonly used by cabinet makers in Carolinas and Virginia.

In Pennsylvania and the New England area, soft pine was the preferred wood. In Texas, pie safes were made from Spanish cedar. Cherry and curly maple are rare in all areas.

Determining the value

The following list, along with many antiques, provides the factors that help determine the price and value of a piece. However, the price is often in the eye of the beholder and the price is after the price. None, there are primary value determinants.

  • Age
  • The area of ​​the country where it is developed
  • Construction – For example, chestnut wood is rarer than pine, oak was rare, poplar was common
  • Door construction and complexity – tin punches with elaborate patterns will cost more than solid doors
  • Unique Finishes – Painted or Non-Painted, Preferred Colors are Red, Green, Gold
  • Teaching-piece can be given to a particular cabinet maker or tinsmith, or person of historical significance to the owner of the piece at a time

Prices realized

Safe in shoppers’ records in the 1830’s was advertised for between $ 8.00 and $ 12.00.

2013 An American, 19th Century, eight pinwheel tin and vintage red painted chest wood sold at auction for $ 2300.00.

2013 An American, made in the first half of the 19th century, made of pine with poplar secondary, punched tin doors and drawers along the sides and wooden drawers, received $ 645.00 at auction.


Pie safes were being made in factories until the late 19th century. They were no longer the unique creations of individual cabinet makers. As the century progressed, oak became popular wood for making ice cans, in which a block of ice was used to store food. This marks the beginning of the initial refrigeration and the end of storing food in the pie safe.

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