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Wednesday, June 1, 2016

White Clad Ice Box Hardware and History

D. Lawless has some fine ice box hardware for you to install. The history of ice and iceboxes is very rich and goes back a long way. Here is a snippet of that history. The harvesting of snow and ice began with a patent in 1637 for Sir William Berkeley, the governor of Virginia. This patent granted him a monopoly on the sale of snow and ice for the better half of two decades. Meanwhile in New England, in the late 1700's, local farmers cut ice from ponds and lakes to store their apples and vegetables in underground ice houses. Robert Morris, whose home was used as the presidential mansion, until the capitol moved to Washington D.C., had an ice pit where food could be preserved and ice stored for cooling drinks. Following this model, George Washington built his ice house in Mt. Vernon. However, the ice was not keeping so well, farmers and plantation owners needed to experiment with the materials used for preserving the ice.

Morris wrote to Washington providing some helpful advice, and by 1790, Washington was able to keep his ice until August, not quite as long as Morris' ice in Philadelphia, which kept til October. The octagon shaped pit that stored the ice, had a stone lining to reduce heat loss. When the capitol moved to D.C., there was no ice house until Thomas Jefferson, in 1802, had one built in Monticello. This ice house, filled in December, would typically keep until September or mid October depending upon the hardness of the ice. The ice house was modeled after ones Jefferson had seen in Italy and of plantation owners in Virginia.

The natural ice harvesting industry began in the early 1800's with Frederic Tudor starting a distribution network and becoming known as the "ice king." The process of ice harvesting resembled that of crop harvesting. Horses pulled plow like ice cutters across frozen lakes and ponds. Before the ice was to be cut, it was measured to ensure that it was thick enough for transportation to far flung locations. Anything less than 8 inches would melt too quickly. Fredric Tudor, who began the ice trade in New England, by the mid 1800's, was shipping ice to every major port in Asia, Austrailia, South America, and the Caribbeans. Depending upon where the ice was delivered, customers could purchase his ice from four to six cents per pound. By the late 1800's, many American households stored their perishable food in insulated iceboxes. These iceboxes were made of wood and lined with tin or zinc resembling the antiques and restoration iceboxes we see today.

Our customers have captured the icebox feature look using our hardware in a couple of different restoration or repurpose projects. Let's take a look.

ice box bedside table

Clockwork Interiors has this furniture before and after with an old icebox using our White Clad hardware to make a bedside table.

ice box dresser

Sawdust Two Stitches does a fantastic dresser repurpose so good you can hardly even see the old piece and turns it into a large icebox replica.

The two beautiful pieces featured show the possibilities that you can create with a little ingenuity and a few pieces of White Clad ice box hardware. So get your creativity and get started on an icebox restoration!

1 comment:

Unknown said...

Cynthia from Clockwork Interiors here. Having grown up in an 1900 Dutch Colonial with a built in wall ice box (that my mother stored her Tupperware and pots and pans in) I enjoyed reading the history. Thanks for sharing!