A meat safe, sometimes called an icebox or ice chest, is an antique piece of furniture usually fashioned with wooden housing around antique metal cooling elements designed to, as the name suggests, keep meat safe for consumption for a longer period of time. Meat safes come in a wide variety of styles and materials. As a general rule of thumb, use these antiques for display purposes only, rather than their original intended purposes.Meat Safe Eras
People used meat safes when they had no access to traditional refrigerators or ice chests, meaning meat safes were popular in the 1800s and common in rural areas through to the 1920s and in some rare cases, even the 1950s. A meat safe dating in the 1800s is likely made primarily of wood, whereas more recently manufactured meat safes feature metal in their construction.Wooden Meat Safes
As with most antique cabinets and cupboards, wooden meat safes come in a variety of materials. Pine and cedar are by far the most common wood used in antique meat safe construction, and many feature elegant panelling around the interior metal cases. Many doors of wooden meat safes are set with clear, frosted, or textured glass. The occasional wooden meat safe may feature ornamental parquetry or mouldings.Metal Meat Safes
Metal meat safes generally date more recently than wooden meat safes, as metal manufacturing techniques improved. Most have one or two shelves, and some feature perforated or solid walls. Steel comprises the primary material of most metal meat safes, and they vary in style from industrial to rustic.Meat Safe Styles
Rustic antique cabinets and cupboards come in a whole host of styles, usually related to the era of construction. Meat safes are no different, and have undergone a wide range of styles during the times of their use. Colonial meat safes, with simple, clean lines and strong but simplistic joinery, and Victorian styles with subtle, classic curves and spare ornamentation are among the most common you find.