Antique Sheet Music Cabinet: Noteworthy Designs and Their Values

Updated April 12, 2021
Kid playing the piano with a music sheet cabinet in the back

An antique sheet music cabinet has multiple modern uses, with its carefully partitioned drawers and shelves, and you can store all of your important documents, files, and even records within its doors. These wooden vestiges from the past reflect a historic sensibility that anyone would enjoy adding to their home.

The Need for a Music Cabinet

During the mid-19th century, technological advancements improved on people's lives and gave them the freedom to explore recreational pursuits. This inspired an entirely new social movement centered around leisure, and both men and women were able to focus on a variety of activities to occupy their newfound 'me-time.' Some of these pursuits that many people were drawn to were those connected to the arts; it was considered vital for young women to be well-versed in artistic talents like painting, poetry, and piano. With the added time to explore music, well-equipped households needed something to store their sheet music in, and so the sheet music cabinet became a fixture of the musical home. It allowed the sheet music to be protected while still giving the pianist easy access to their entire collection.

Antique Sheet Music Cabinet Styles

Antique sheet music cabinets can be found in a variety of sizes, styles, and finishes. Most were made to be about 40 inches high and 24 inches wide. While the majority of sheet music cabinets have conventional doors that pull open, some unique cabinets feature doors that pull straight down. Their tops are normally flat, though occasionally there are antique music cabinets which have upper portions meant to display decorative items. Interestingly, these flat-topped music cabinets were designed to support the dimensions of the popular music player, the Victrola, as well as hold the Victrola's records inside. Expensive sheet music cabinets featured characteristics like:

  • Intricate carvings
  • Pull out shelves
  • Mirrored doors
  • Luxury woods like mahogany
  • Enamel inlays
Music Cabinet MET

Antique Sheet Music Cabinet Manufacturers

Given that these pieces are specialized, there are fewer notable manufacturers which you can expect to find historic examples from. Herzog, the Tindale Company, and Larkin & Company, are three prominent makers whose products you can find on many auction websites. However, you very well may have an antique sheet music cabinet that's been kept in your family that doesn't belong to one of these companies. Check on the backs and insides of the cabinets for any logos or manufacturer's marks that might indicate which maker produced your specific cabinet. Not every piece will have this information, but the ones that do make dating the sheet music cabinet much easier.

How to Incorporate Antique Sheet Music Cabinets in Your Home

These antique sheet music cabinets are rather popular for their versatility, and here are a few different ways that you can incorporate one of these pieces of furniture in your modern home.

Bathroom Vanity

These cabinets' size makes them great candidates for turning them into a single bathroom vanity. Because of the depth of the cabinet, the pipes are kept out of sight easily as well. If you have plans to convert an antique cabinet into a vanity, you should make a note that the shelves will have to be removed and the top either treated or replaced. Since it'll be subjected to water, you'll want to do one of the following to protect the wood from damage:

  • Seal the wood carefully and wipe up any spills immediately.
  • Replace the top with marble, tile, or another impermeable surface.

Office or Craft Room

Filing papers is an unglamorous and tedious job that's made drearier by the utilitarian decoration that are filing cabinets. An antique sheet music cabinet can make an office a little more charming and add a touch of nostalgia to any craft room. Here are a few ideas of the different things you can store inside these cabinets:

  • Textiles, boning, ribbons, and so on
  • Construction paper, cardstock, copy paper, and so on
  • Scrapbooking supplies
  • Important files
  • Letters and bills
  • Ephemera
  • Photographs
  • Magazines

Antique Sheet Music Cabinet Costs

Antique wooden furniture of any kind is rather expensive, and antique sheet music cabinets are no different. Cabinets that bear some sign of aging, but otherwise have all of their components intact, cost anywhere between $2,000-$7,000, with some newer examples costing less. Examples that have a lot of decoration and are made out of luxury woods are going to have the highest values. For instance, one Victorian mahogany cabinet from the 1880s is listed for nearly $6,500 and a similar 1920s cabinet is listed for half of that. Unfortunately, this makes these cabinets a bit of an exclusive collectors' item that you really have to be interested in to warrant you investing that kind of money.

Victorian wood music cabinet

It's Music to Your Ears

Antique sheet music cabinets are so versatile that should you ever get the opportunity to snatch one up for a great price, you have to take the chance. Whether you're looking for a piece of storage with a story or are looking to DIY a new sink cabinet, these antique sheet music cabinets are perfect for you. And if you have an antique sheet music cabinet already, you might also be interested in looking at antique piano prices as well.

Antique Sheet Music Cabinet: Noteworthy Designs and Their Values