Skip to product information
1 of 16


Victorian Oak Floral Carved Ice Chest With Zinc Lining & Phoenix Head Hardware

Victorian Oak Floral Carved Ice Chest With Zinc Lining & Phoenix Head Hardware

Regular price $1,675.00 USD
Regular price Sale price $1,675.00 USD
Sale Sold out

With our absolute compliments Bay Colony Antiques takes the utmost pleasure in offering this extremely fine and rare antique oak ice chest. In the late 19th century electricity was still a curiosity for most Americans and every home would have an ice chest instead of a modern refrigerator. These chests are designed as a receptacle for large blocks of ice which slowly melt away throughout the week keeping the food inside at a safe temperature. The melted ice water is allowed to freely flow out of the chest via an escapement hole fitted in the very bottom where it would be collected and disposed of. This method of refrigeration served the public well for the entirety of domesticated life until the invention of electrical refrigerators which did not become wide spread until about a century ago. Typically either porcelain or zinc was used to insulate the interior of the ice chest with zinc being the more practical option as porcelain interiors are prone to breaking due to their heavy weight and lack of structural integrity. We find that homes in the country or rural parts of the U.S. still desire to have ice chests today as they are practical furnishings which greatly enhance the interior of any room they are placed. Aside from the obvious utility the storage compartments provide many collectors value antique ice chests for their original intended purpose should a community lose power for an extended period of time. While we hope that our clients never lose power at all it is good to know that they have a piece which provides airtight storage of non perishable food items for the indefinite future.

This ice chest was produced by the Bowen Manufacturing Company of Fond du Lac, Wisconsin as evident from the stylized brass plated label still affixed to the front. The entirety of the exterior is comprised of solid oak which is generally regarded as the best wood to design an ice chest from. Elaborate floral carved designs are intricately placed all throughout the exterior of the case in a manner quite similar to the Eastlake Victorian design movement. The patent date of Dec 2nd, 1892 is inscribed on the manufacturers plate indicating the ice chest was made on that date or soon afterwards. This chest features the most spectacular brass hardware we have ever encountered before on an ice chest with floral stylizations and bold phoenix head patterns on the hinges and prominent on the lower door latch. There is no question that this ice chest was made with considerable pride and designed to be used continually as a functional piece that is also an artistic labor. The top lifts open to reveal a storage cavity which is fit with a corrugated zinc shelf designed to support the weight of an ice block and to aid with proper water runoff. The case is designed with raised panel construction allowing for the solid oak to adjust in a framework throughout the seasons as wood naturally expands and contracts. Each side features double raised panels with molded beads to provide an extra aesthetic detail while the back features a lateral raised panel framework. The lower door opens to reveal a full storage compartment and a zinc lined door interior for extra refrigeration. The entire piece is finished with a beautiful golden oak color which has developed a rich and warm patina throughout the years. This antique ice chest measures 32" wide x 21” deep x 42 3/4” tall.


View full details