Antique sheet music cabinets are a stunning addition to any home and can be a great source of storage for all kinds of items. This guide will explore the value of antique sheet music cabinets, as well as some of the features that you should look for when purchasing one.
Read on for more!
When Were Sheet Music Cabinets Made?
Sheet music cabinets were most popular during the Victorian era and Edwardian era, though some newer examples can be found from a little further into the 20th century.
Three of the most popular manufacturers of music cabinets include the Tyndale Company, Herzog, and Larkin & Company.
Around the middle of the 19th century, women found themselves with more free time as advances in technology and manufacturing led to less need for their labor in the home. This newfound leisure time meant that they could finally pursue hobbies and interests outside of housework, one of which was music.
Pianos were becoming increasingly popular during this time, and women were often taking lessons and performing for their friends and family as entertainment. A music cabinet was the perfect way to store sheet music, as well as other items such as instruments and scores.
Styles of Antique Sheet Music Cabinets
If you’re interested in acquiring one, you may be wondering what kinds of music cabinets are available.
As far as materials go, most cabinets were made from quality wood, such as solid mahogany or walnut. But as far as what styles are available–there are actually many variations of the same basic concept, from the simple and functional to the ornate and decorative.
Some of the most common styles of sheet music cabinets include:
Victorian Music Cabinets
The Victorian era lasted essentially the entire reign of Queen Victoria, from 1837 to 1901.
A Victorian music cabinet was often highly detailed and featured intricate inlays and engravings. These cabinets were designed to be both beautiful and functional, with plenty of storage for a pianist’s sheet music collection.
Edwardian Music Cabinets
The Edwardian period was roughly from 1900-1910, so not as long of an era as many others.
Unlike the elaborate Victorian cabinets, Edwardian cabinets tended to be more streamlined and simplistic in design. These cabinets were still beautiful, but focused more on function than form.
Characteristics of Antique Sheet Music Cabinets
The truth is that all sheet music cabinets were built with the same basic purpose: to be an effective storage cabinet for loose sheets of paper. Therefore, while their styles may vary slightly, their function is still very much the same.
Here are a few characteristic variations you may find:
Cabinets with Front Doors
For example, some cabinets feature front doors. These doors serve the purpose of keeping the contents of the cabinet private. Inside, you may find a series of shelves, drawers, and vertical slots.
Front doors are especially important for cabinets that are used in high-traffic or public spaces, such as a living room or parlor.
Cabinets with Visible Drawers
Then there are sheet music cabinets that come with a set of drawers that are visible down the front. Sometimes these drawers even have a hinged front that folds down for easier access to sheet music!
Cabinets with drawers in this manner are still good choices for high-traffic or public places, since the drawers can be closed to offer privacy.
While some cabinets are mainly drawers or mainly doors, many are a combination of several features.
Components you may find include adjustable shelves, vertical slots, and very shallow drawers whose fronts don’t fall open.
Depending on the features, this type of cabinet may be well suited for public places or may be better suited for a less formal space, such as a private music room.
Is There Any Value in Old Sheet Music Cabinets?
While it may be fun to learn about the different styles and features of antique sheet music cabinets, the more important question to answer is, is there any value in them?
The answer is that the value of an antique sheet music cabinet will vary depending on a number of factors, such as its age, condition, overall design, and provenance (or, where it came from).
One of the most important factors in determining the value of an antique sheet music cabinet is its age. The older the cabinet, the more valuable it is likely to be.
This is because cabinets from the 19th century are much rarer than those from the 20th century.
Another important factor is the condition of the cabinet. If a storage cabinet is in excellent condition, with no signs of wear and tear, it will be more valuable than one that is in poor condition.
However, even if a cabinet shows a sign of aging, it may still have some value if it is a particularly rare or unique piece.
The overall design of the cabinet is also important. If a cabinet has an intricate floral inlay, a moulded edge, an original bevelled mirror, or an engraved turned rail, for example, it will be more valuable than a simpler design.
Similarly, if a cabinet is made from a rare wood, such as mahogany or walnut, it will also be more valuable than something constructed from a more common wood like pine or maple.
Finally, the provenance of a cabinet–or, where it came from–can also affect its value. A cabinet with an interesting history or that belonged to a famous person will be worth far more than a cabinet with no known provenance.
For example, a cabinet that was made in the late 1890s and used by a well-known pianist would be much more valuable than a similar cabinet from the same time period with no known history.
As you can see, there are many variables when it comes to determining the value of an Edwardian or Victorian music cabinet. Generally, though, these are quite valuable, with some older examples selling for thousands of dollars, perhaps $3,000 to $7,000. Some for a whole lot more!
What Should You Look for When Purchasing an Antique Music Cabinet?
Now that you understand that antique music cabinets can be quite valuable, let’s look at what you should be aware of while searching for and purchasing one for your own home.
Wear and Tear
As we mentioned before, the condition of the furniture piece will affect the price. However, it could also affect the cabinet’s functionality.
So, when purchasing an antique sheet music cabinet, it is important to keep in mind that these pieces are quite delicate. As such, you should inspect the cabinet for any signs of damage or wear before making a purchase. Additionally, be sure to ask the seller about the cabinet’s history and whether it has been properly cared for over the years.
Your Home Decor
Purchasing antique furniture can be a great way to add some character and charm to your home. However, it is important to make sure that the piece you are considering will fit in with your overall home decor.
Ask yourself whether the cabinet’s style and design will complement your other furniture, if it will be appropriate for the room in which you plan to put it, and if the cabinet’s paint or stain color will go with whatever you already own.
Keep in mind, too, that you can use an antique storage cabinet for things other than sheet music. If you don’t play any instruments, you can still use the shallow drawers and slots to store scraps of paper, paperwork, thin binders, or even magazines.
When purchasing an antique music cabinet, size is also an important consideration. After all, you need to make sure that the cabinet will fit in your home!
Measure the space in which you plan to put the cabinet and be sure to ask the seller for the dimensions of the piece before making a purchase.
Where to Find Old Cabinets
Now that you’re sold on the idea of getting yourself a beautiful sheet music storage cabinet, where do you find them?
Here are a few tips:
Antique Stores and Markets
These stores sometimes carry a selection of music cabinets, as well as other antique furniture. Antique markets are similar to antique stores, but they are usually only open for business on certain days of the week or month.
These places are nice to purchasing antique and vintage pieces because you can personally see what you’re buying–and you may even have free shipping or free local pickup with a place like this!
Online Antique Stores
There are also many online antique stores that sell music cabinets and other pieces of antique furniture. These stores are often a great option if you live in an area that does not have any physical antique stores. Also, sometimes this offers you a better experience because online searches help you find what you’re looking for quickly!
If you want to find a truly unique or rare cabinet, auction houses are worth considering. They have done their research into each piece, and you’re sure to find a piece that is high-quality. However, you’ll need to be prepared to pay more for a cabinet that you find at an auction house.
Ways to Incorporate Music Cabinets Into Your Home Decor
As we mentioned before, music cabinets make great storage pieces for any room in your home–not just the living room or den!
Here are a few creative ideas for how you can incorporate these stunning antique sheet music cabinets into your home decor:
In the Entryway
The entryway is a perfect place for a piece like this. Use a smaller cabinet to store things like keys, mail, and other small items that you need to grab as you’re heading out the door. They’re all contained, organized, and ready to retrieve anytime.
In the Kitchen
It may seem surprising, but even the kitchen is a great place for an antique storage cabinet. A larger cabinet could be used to store cookbooks, loose recipe cards, towels, and other kitchen essentials that are narrow and easy to scatter.
In the Bathroom
Ever thought of using a music cabinet in your bathroom? A cabinet with adjustable shelves and drawers can be used to store extra toiletries, towels, makeup, hair accessories, and any other small bathroom items you can think of.
In the Office
Another great place for an antique sheet music cabinet is in your home office. If you have a lot of paperwork or need somewhere to organize your office supplies, a music cabinet could be just the thing you’re looking for.
You can use the drawers to store pens, paper, staplers, and other office supplies. And, if the cabinet has any shelves, you can use them to store binders, books, or decorative items.
In the Bedroom
Even the bedroom is a great place for an antique storage cabinet. If you have extra space beside your dresser or nightstand, a music cabinet could be used to store your much smaller or easily-lost bedroom essentials. Think makeup, earrings, hair ties, and rings and other jewelry taken off at night before bed.
As you can see, there are many ways that you can incorporate an antique sheet music cabinet into your home decor. No matter what room you put it in, it is sure to make a statement!
Now that you know all about antique music cabinets, their value, and what to look for when purchasing one, it’s time to start your search!
Antique sheet music cabinets are a beautiful and practical addition to any home. With proper care, they can last for generations and become treasured family heirlooms.
If you are in the market for an antique sheet music cabinet, be sure to keep the above information in mind! With a little patience and perseverance, you’re sure to find a beautiful piece that will be a conversation starter for years to come!
Have you ever thought of owning an antique sheet music cabinet? Tell us about it in the comments below!