The coveted Hamilton Printers Cabinet

Earlier this week I came across an Antique Hamilton Printers Cabinet on Craigslist. I have been wanting one of these beautiful cabinets for some time but didn’t start looking seriously until this week. So, on Monday I spied a beautiful cabinet and after a few emails going back and forth with the seller, I decided to purchase it. I had to have it shipped to me, which added to the final cost, but I am very pleased, it’s beautiful.

Most of you can probably guess where I am going to place it in my home and what I plan on using it for-yes, my studio, and yes, for beads and other adorning objects and elements:)  But first, I need to clean it up. I recently learned that not all antiques should be refinished..that its better to leave the original finish if possible. I hope this is the case with my cabinet.

cabinet side

So, my first step is to clean the hardware. Here’s an image of the dirty hardware…
cabinet hardwareI placed the dirty hardware in a plastic container with ammonia for about 10 minutes, rinsed, and then used sandpaper and a steel brush to remove the remaining dirt and grime.  The hardware now has a shinier metal finish.
clearn hardware

The second step, is to clean the wood. I also recently learned that a soft rag and dish detergent is all that you need. Once I finish the cleaning process, I will be able to determine if it truly does need to be refinished or not. If it looks good, I will add a lacquer coating to bring out the shine in the wood.

The drawers are in great shape, all the dividers are still in place. They are dirty and definitely need cleaning…this project will take some time but will be worth the effort.  I truly enjoy the process of bringing it back to its glory.
drawerscabinetThe person I purchased the cabinet from will have another one available for purchase. It’s not a Hamilton Cabinet but it looks pretty cool. I will be sure to share with you the info once he is ready to list it. Have a great weekend.

13 Responses to The coveted Hamilton Printers Cabinet

  1. You lucky girl! This is something I covet too – but they are rarely found – mostly just the drawers. I think most of the cabinets have been taken apart. Besides which – I don’t have any more room to fit one in… sigh.
    I hope you share a pic when you are finished and it is full of treasure….

  2. Jeanette, that is a really beautiful piece of furniture for your beads/studio. How lucky you were to have found one so quickly. It should be a lot of fun bringing back some of that original beauty.

  3. Jeanette,

    What a perfect birthday present for yourself. 🙂 This is such a beautiful cabinet. I love how the handles have been transformed.
    I so envy you having such a gem of a cabinet. I would love to have one for my studio. Please let me know the details when you have them. The price of shipping to me here in the boonies might be prohibited, but maybe just maybe if all the stars align I’ll might be able to swing it.

    I love reading your blog. It keeps me in touch with my favorite teacher.


  4. OMG ~ OMG ~ OMG ~ I just want this!
    I have an old art cupboard/drawer that I saved from our local area school when they were demolishing a building. It’s an antique…very similar to this but on a much larger scale – it’s about 4-5 feet wide and about 4 1/2 feet high with 9 deep drawers – art paper storage. It is painted black with the drawers still left natural. I don’t want to sand it back to the wood as I think it would lose it’s character.
    Living on a farm in country Australia, we are SO LUCKY when we find fabulous finds like these. Most people don’t seem to appreciate “old” furniture these days and the history that comes with it. My hubby is sick of the furniture/tables/chairs that I find and bring home! It will all get used one day when I have my very own studio ;o)
    You lucky lucky girl – this is something I would treasure forever.

  5. Woot! That is an AWESOME score! Mine looks very similar. Hamilton cabinets were manufactured in Wisconsin and were the top of the line for printers of all sizes. They made all manner of cabinets and all the letter styles as well! I found the original catalog from about 1917 and found what looked exactly like my cabinet. It cost $18 back then! I think these are a treasure. I have a friend who refurbishes antique furniture and he cleaned all the drawers for me (tons of ink was left after I tried doing the clean myself) and then he painted the interiors black to mask any ink stains and then a stark white. That is so helpful to be able to see the exact color of the beads inside. MIne is about 3/4 full… so much to love! Enjoy the day, Jeannette!

  6. I have a 48 drawer Hamilton cabinet that looks like the one pictured. My cabinet is in perfect shape and I was wondering what it may be worth. Any ideas?

  7. Hello, I am always looking for cabinets like this. I am a letterpress printer and desperately need some more type face storage. If anyone has one theyd like to sell to a good home, where they will use it for its original purpose, please let me know!

  8. Calling all artisans! I have a large collection of library card catalogs, dental cabinets, apothecary cabinets, letterpress cabinets- in short, cabinets with lots of little drawers perfect for holding art and art supplies- that I need to re-home. I am downsizing and must sell off my precious collection. Email me at for pictures and details. Thanks.

  9. I’m sure you don’t have any left…but it doesn’t hurt to try…..looking for storage for Mt bead studio….
    Thank you!

  10. I have a 48 drawer Hamilton cabinet in pretty good condition. It is missing 8 drawers, but I can send you a picture of it. I really need to sell it. I am in CT.

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