Prohibition Liquor Cabinet
I was at an antique flea market, not knowing what I was looking for. That is the most successful way for me to go shopping. If I go looking for something specific, you know as right as rain I will not find it. But, if I go with an open mind, I find the coolest stuff. I find stuff I would never have thought of. I find stuff I didn’t know I wanted until I saw it. I find stuff that opens my imagination.
Anyway, here I am in a huge center, surrounded by hundreds of antique dealers, trying to sell their wares to the experienced, the unexperienced, the knowledgeable, the gullible… You get my meaning. I was looking for something to do with my hands. That was the only goal I had in mind.
I had found a couple of things, but was still looking for that “special something”. Something that jumped up and said “buy me!”.
This particular market was situated just like most others, prime people with lots of great goods got the front booths, and smaller vendors, with less money to throw around possibly got the ones in the back of the hall. I was in the back of the hall, when I saw something that made me stop.
It was ugly. It was kind of a confederate blue paint job. There were some splits in it. There were homemade stub legs on it, that looked like they had been made from a fallen tree stump. It had one latch on the side. There were no markings on it showing what company made it. When it was made, nothing. I think it had very heavy MDF on the back, but it looked like it had been marked in squares to be cut, and then wasn’t. It had some slits near the top like it was supposed to be hooked up to something else maybe.
When I opened it, I realized the door didn’t come all the way to the edge. It kind of looked like a miniature closet, one you would find underneath a stairwell, but it had a shelf instead of a hanging rod. I asked the dealer what it was. She had no idea. It was $45.
I continued walking around, but kept thinking about that… that… that thing. It was so unique. I had never seen anything like it before. I could not get it out of my head. It was so intriguing.
I went back, and talked to the dealer some more. I could get no information about the piece at all, other than it was probably lead based paint on it. I opened it again, and made my decision. “I’ll take it.” The dealer dropped $5 off without me even haggling (that is one thing I am not good at, is haggling).
This is what it looked like when I bought it!
As I was carrying it out to my car (amazingly enough it did fit), several people said they had been looking at it, but couldn’t figure out what it was. They all asked me what it was. “I have no idea, but I’m going to make it into a liquor cabinet, I think”, I said.
After getting it home, I examined it closely. There was no marking at all that told me what it was, other than something that looked like maybe the original price written in some kind of orange ink, with some initials. That was it.
I researched online about removing lead based paint. I got protective gloves, goggles, and masks. I bought Klean-Strip Paint Stripper and Klean-Strip Paint After Wash because I was told it was lead based paint, and I did believe that opinion.
I spent several days outside, trying to remove as much of the paint as possible, carefully putting the stripper on, letting it bubble up, then scraping it off with a plastic putty knife. Then I took some after wash on it, to remove the paint remover. I had to do this 3 times, inside and out.
Then I took the door off the hinges and sanded it down, as carefully as I could, since I was not 100% sure I’d actually removed all the paint. This took quite a while actually, I am assuming because of the number of years the paint was on the thing. I did not take off the back of it, because I did not want to destroy it, and have to replace it with another piece of MDF since this one was still in good shape. That meant I could not remove the paint off the inside front.
Parts of the wood seemed to stay darker than others. I am still trying to figure out why that happens, because I see it occasionally. It doesn’t seem to matter how much the wood gets sanded, some of the wood color does not match the rest. There appeared to be a couple of different woods mixed together, because the door turned a light tan like pine would when sanded, but the top seemed to be a little on the reddish side.
Voila! This it the finished product
Once I was satisfied with the sanding job, I proceeded to stain it. With the Cabernet stain of course. I thought it would look nice next to the buffet I had already refurbished. I put 2 coats of the stain on, reaching in as far as I could to the crevices, even lying on my back if necessary. I stained the entire outside, the door inside and out, the shelf and the sides. The part of the piece that didn’t get stained was the inside of the box that butted up against the door. I could not tell how much of the paint had been removed, so I left that part alone.
I put it back together. I thought it was beautiful. It was rustic. It was homemade. It was an unknown piece. The best kind of piece. One I could make a story up for, and unless an antique expert saw it (which I did not personally know of any), no one could dispute it.
See what I mean about the unreachable part to sand?
A friend of mine came over for dinner one night, and I showed him the piece (actually it was before I did the resurrection). I even turned it on its back, to show him the homemade legs. I told him I didn’t know what it was, but I was going to turn it into a liquor cabinet, since I didn’t have a bar yet.
This friend is very knowledgeable in all kinds of stuff. He said it looked like it was from the Prohibition era maybe. The way the door hinge didn’t go all the way to the edge of the piece and the strange indentation slits near the top made him think it was made to hide something, or maybe somebody? That it would slide into a wall and no one would be the wiser that there was a container of sorts there.
Great story! A Prohibition Liquor Cabinet.
PS.. If anyone can tell what this is by the pictures, I would greatly appreciate a comment. I am very curious as to what it actually is, but until then, the taboo liquor cabinet is the story I am sticking with.