Get to Know Your Furniture, Part 1!

Pie Safe

Although the name of this furniture piece tends to conjure up an image of a stashed sweet treat locked away in a foreboding metal vault, only part of that’s true. A pie safe was originally designed in the pre-icebox 18th century to hold pies and other perishable food items to protect them from vermin, but it is actually a free standing wood cabinet with ventilated doors that open out in front.  Today these antiques are more likely to hold collectibles than edibles but the unique design makes them noteworthy even if they are no longer functional.      

Dry Sink 

This is not the arid vessel of a person who never cooks or does dishes but rather a piece of furniture that was common in homes before the invention of indoor plumbing in order to provide a convenient place to wash and store toiletries.  There are different styles but a dry sink is almost always a wood cabinet base with a top made to hold a basin and pitcher for water.  In more modern times these are sometimes re-purposed as a vintage bathroom vanity. Dry sinks are one of the most copied antiques out there today, so be careful if you are looking for an original.      


These wooden chests originally functioned as freestanding liquor cabinets and first appeared in 15th century Europe as a way to secure alcoholic beverages in public houses. Cellarettes then became popular in Virginia and other southern colonies during the 18th century as a way to safely store personal collections of whiskey and wine. They were often custom made with decorative wood such as mahogany, and came in many shapes and sizes.  Over time they became less portable and were commonly built into another furniture piece such as a buffet, with space for glasses and other drinking paraphernalia as well a lock to protect the goods from thieves.