History of the Pie Safe

Beth Rice 28/03/2017

For a good part of the 19th century, a very important piece of furniture sat in the middle of many kitchens — the pie safe. Also known as a pie cabinet, pie cupboard, pie chest, or kitchen safe, the pie safe helped to keep pesky insects, rodents, and dirt away from freshly baked goods.

Origins

It is believed that the pie safe was first introduced in the United States in the 1800s by German immigrants who would come to be known as the Pennsylvania Dutch.

Word spread quickly about the new storage solution that protected baked goods. The pie safe became the closest thing to a refrigerator, making it a popular and relied upon piece of kitchen furniture. Ventilation, in the form of screens or tin with holes punched into it, contributed to keeping baked goods cool and preventing mold growth. The pie safe’s appeal started to wane at the end of the 19th century when the icebox entered the picture.

Construction

Original pie safes were the size of large bureaus and were made from solid wood. Yellow pine was the most common wood choice. Soft pine was often used to make the shelves and drawers. Variations in size and shape contributed to its appeal. Most were freestanding cabinets with deep shelves. Pie safes with tin doors were the most common. Designs were created by the punched holes that also provided ventilation. Church scenes and simple shapes were the most popular.

Pie Safe Styles

Freestanding

A solid wood cabinet standing on four legs was the most common design. The Amish Shaker Hill Cabinet is a solid wood, freestanding style.

Amish Shaker Hill Cabinet

Tin Panel Feature

Punched tin panel designs such as those on the Amish Lancaster Raised Panel Pie Safe with Tin Doors added decoration while providing much needed ventilation.

Amish Lancaster Raised Panel Pie Safe with Tin Doors

Glass Doors

The Amish Modesto Two Door Cabinet offers the option of glass or copper doors, adding an upscale and elegant appearance.

Amish Furniture Modesto Mission Pie Safe Cabinet

Copper Accents

The copper wheat panel designs on the doors of Amish Pie Safe contribute easily to a country style furniture collection.

Amish Pie Safe

Pie Safes Today

The pie safe has become a treasured antique, with its versatile style providing a variety of storage options. Today, it easily contributes to the popular shabby chic look. Not just for pies anymore, solid wood safes are perfect for the kitchen, pantry, hallway, or mudroom.

The Amish Mission Pie Safe provides a stylish cabinet for toy storage in the playroom.

https://www.dutchcrafters.com/Amish-Mission-Pie-Safe/p/49079
Our Amish made pie safes are customizable replicas of some of the original designs brought to the United States by the Pennsylvania Dutch, and can be used for anything from crafting supplies to baked goods.

Related Posts
3 Ways to Use A Foyer Storage Bench
Three Ways to Use a Foyer Storage Bench

In truth, the foyer storage bench goes by many names: hall bench, entry storage bench, shoe storage bench, entry hall Read more

Create the Right Chi: Feng Shui Tips for Your Home

Your home is your haven. It’s your personal space for living, laughing and loving with family, friends and loved ones. Read more

10 Unique Father’s Day Gifts Made in America
Father's Day Gifts

Looking for a unique Father’s Day gift that’s made in America?  You’ve come to the right place. All the gifts Read more

How to Shorten the Wait for New Furniture

In the age of Amazon where delivery drivers are literally running to our doors to deliver packages and online pre-ordering Read more

About the Author

5 comments

  • Ray Oswald
    October 1, 2017 at 2:28 pm

    We have my grandmother’s all tin enclosed pie safe—her name and the date 1884 appear on the front two panels: we were told an uncle made it for her upon her birth Definately PA Dutch Lehigh County PA.

    Any suggestions on a quality repair / restore craftsmen?


  • Milca Rivera
    October 3, 2017 at 3:54 pm

    Hi Ray,

    Thank you for your question. One of our support specialists recommended U.S. Quality Furniture Repair. We also recommend doing a search on Yelp or general search for “furniture repair specialist” or “furniture restoration specialist” in or near your area. That way you can read reviews before deciding who to contact for repair and restoration.


  • dennis paustenbach
    July 26, 2020 at 3:01 am

    Ray:

    I am writing a book on pie safes.

    Can we talk about the one you mentioned?

    Dennis


  • Suann N.
    January 8, 2022 at 9:00 pm

    I have my family’s Pie Safe that I bought from my dad years ago after the farm sold. It’s always been in my family. It has screens in the sides and front doors. In the back of the pie safe, it has written Mendon, MI and the number, it looks like 32 or 82(?) This is written looks like in Black paint when it was made. I was wondering, were the pie safes made with screens older then the tin one’s? The screens have a very faded design on the screens. Not sure if the 32 or 82 was a date made or a stock number? But it always been it my family. I just love it. And my dad’s side of family came from Prussia


  • Beth Rice
    January 26, 2022 at 10:58 am

    Hi Suann,

    Your pie safe sounds beautiful. I haven’t been able to determine if screens or punched tin were used first in pie safe designs. They are both mentioned as popular for helping keep air circulating to cool baked goods, help prevent mold and keep out rodents and flies. Thank you for sharing your pie safe with us and thank you for visiting Timber to Table.


Leave a Reply