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An Icebox was the common appliance for providing refrigeration in the home before safe refrigerants made compact mechanical refrigerators feasible.

Icebox 1.jpg

Commonly iceboxes were made of wood, most probably for ease of construction, insulation, and aesthetics: many were handsome pieces of furniture.

Iceboxes had hollow walls that were lined with tin or zinc and packed with various insulating materials such as cork, sawdust, straw or seaweed. A large block of ice was held in a tray or compartment near the top of the box. Cold air circulated down and around storage compartments in the lower section. Some finer models had spigots for draining ice water from a catch pan or holding tank. In cheaper models a drip pan was placed under the box and had to be emptied at least daily. The user had to replenish the melted ice, normally by obtaining new ice from an iceman.

Contents

Current use

Antique iceboxes may be found in many North American antique shops. Although some still contain the original drain, runoff pan, and shelving and could theoretically be used for their original purpose, many, especially those made of wood, have instead been refurbished to hold stereo equipment, books, or dry goods.

Icebox picture gallery

A. Old Norwegian icebox. The ice was placed in the drawer above the door. B. Typical Victorian icebox highboy model. The model is made out as a fine piece of oak furniture. Note tin or zinc shelving and door lining. C. An exclusive oak cabinet icebox that would be found in the well-to-do homes. Note the fancy hardware and latches. Ice goes in the left upper door. This model probably has a pull-out drip tray.

Popular Culture

In the 1950s television show The Honeymooners, the Kramdens' apartment featured an ice box to emphasize their financially strapped working class living conditions. (By the 1950s most families used an electric refrigerator.)

In Lassie (1954 TV series), the Martins (a rural family) used an ice box.

See also








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