Orders & Medals Society of America Forums Other Medal Related Topics Other Medal Discussions UNIQUE MEDAL STORAGE / DISPLAY CABINET FOR SALE

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    For Sale by 40-year OMSA Member:  An 80-year old (approximately), all-wood, printer’s type-setting cabinet with drawers, which, in the 1970s, was hand restored and entirely repurposed into a beautiful one-of-a-kind, medal-collector’s storage and display cabinet (see photos).  I’m offering it for $3500.

    For further information, please e-mail to haverbach@yahoo.com, or call in the evenings at 412-371-5589.


    I began collecting U.S. military decorations medals in the early to mid 1970s.  It was not too long until the matter of categorizing, holding and displaying them became an issue.  I did not like the idea of multiple boxes, “Riker” mounts or similar solutions.  And then it hit me:  How about an old typesetter’s cabinet —- with its many shallow drawers providing easy access, categorization by drawer(s) and a beautiful display surface?  And thus began a two-year hunt.

    At the time, the drawers, but drawers only, from such cabinets were commonly found at flea markets and antique shops — apparently people hung such drawers on a wall and filled the cubby holes with small displayables (thuchkies).  But I wanted the entire thing: drawers and cabinet.  Of course I expected any available such cabinet to be beat-up, needing repairs and restoration.  That would not be a problem; being an experienced wood-working hobbyist, I would restore and refinish the cabinet and drawers.  I hunted for quite a while; however, the best I could find were the models from around the 1940s where the cabinet and drawer fronts were faced with dark-green metal.  Not what I was after.

    One day I read that a hundred-year-old print shop located on  Pittsburgh’s Mount Washington was going out of business; the owner was selling the presses and other equipment.  I drove there on a weekday afternoon and asked the owner if he might have an old typeset cabinet.  In fact, tucked away in the back of the print shop he had two: a metal-faced version and an old, old wood cabinet of the “California Style”, meaning the drawers were about 22″ wide, rather than the more common variety having much-wider drawers.  He showed me the cabinets; in terms of size the all-wood specimen was perfect.  But it was beat.  One drawer was missing.  The cabinet and the rest of the draws were well worn, marred, dented and ink stained.  And the top, which had been a working surface for decades and decades, was entirely shot.  The drawers contained the metal type.  I offered to purchase the cabinet and drawers, but not the type.  He stated that that would be ok because there was a ready market for the type.  (Worn lead type was as a matter of course sold to suppliers who melt it and recast new type.)  After a bit of price dickering, I purchased the cabinet and drawers.

    After hauling the cabinet to my house, I spent several days disassembling it, including removing all the type dividers, thereby yielding one large storage space per drawer.  I then spent eight months of evenings and weekends restoring the cabinet and drawers, including the following:

    – As purchased, one drawer was missing, one other was broken but repairable.  I fabricated an entire new drawer and repaired the other.

    – The top of the cabinet, which had been used as a work surface for the life of the unit, was damaged beyond repair; I fabricated a new top.  Around the edge of the new top I routed a groove and installed a decorative-wood inlay (see photo).

    – The cabinet had many dings and dents from its lifetime in a working print shop.  I sanded or repaired many such areas; however, I left some small dents or dings visible (in an attractive manner) so as not to mask the age or origin of the cabinet.

    – As purchased, the bottom of the cabinet sat on the floor.  I installed brass castors so that the cabinet would roll on carpet or hard-surface floor.

    – I fabricated a locking mechanism.  Turning the key to the lock installed at the front top cross member (see photo) turns a steel rod that I braised to the lock armature.  This, in turn, winds a nylon string secured to the distal end (toward the back of the cabinet) of the steel rod.  As the steel rod turns and winds the nylon string, it pulls and lifts up a wood bar installed along the inside back center of the cabinet.  Running vertically along the wood bar are installed twenty “L” hooks (one for each drawer).  Each engages (or releases from) an “eye” hook screwed into the center of the back horizontal rail of each drawer.  This locking mechanism works very well; be aware, however, that it was not designed to foil a determined thief; rather, it keeps children and grandchildren from opening the drawers.

    – As purchased, the metal drawer pulls were painted black.  These were cleaned and brass plated (matching the lock face and the castors).

    – For each drawer, I cut to size a thick piece of cardboard to which I glued a foam pad.  On top and wrapping the pad is a length of tan-colored velvet material (see photos).

    Woods, Structure, Style, Size

    The size of the cabinet at its greatest measurements (floor to tallest point; width and depth of wood top overhang) is: H=45″, W=27-1/4″, D=20–3/4″. The primary furniture wood is oak; the inside of the drawers and inner cabinet structure are of a white wood, perhaps pine or birch.  The oak is stained a light tan/brown, finished with tung oil varnish (see photos).  This is a beautiful piece of furniture; it would fit in any den or livingroom having a traditional or antique style.

    Being Sold

    A couple of years ago, I sold my entire U.S. medal collection, save for one extremely rare piece.  I did not at the time wish to sell the storage/display cabinet.  I’ve changed my mind as to selling it, but how does one place a price on an item that I spent hundreds and hundreds of hours restoring?  Valuing my time at merely $50/hr. would suggest a selling price of at least $25,000!  But I instead have chosen a “plucked-from-air” price of $3500.  The buyer must pick up the cabinet from my house in Pittsburgh.

    Unique Opportunity to View the Cabinet

    Note:  This OMSA Forum allows only four photo attachments.  I have many more.  Please ask.

    Please feel free to e-mail (haverbach@yahoo.com) or telephone (412-371-5589) me about the cabinet, though the provided photographs should answer many questions.  As chance would have it, however, there will be a unique opportunity to examine the cabinet this August.  The OMSA Convention will be held in Downtown Pittsburgh (the first time in my 40 years as an OMSA member).  I live in Pittsburgh, about twenty minutes from the hotel hosting the convention.  If you will be attending the convention and you would like to view the cabinet for possible purchase, you may contact me at the aforesaid e-mail or telephone number and we can arrange a time for visit.

    H. Averbach
    Pittsburgh, PA
    e-mail:  haverbach@yahoo.com
    telephone: 412-371-5589

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