The White Frost Refrigerator: unique 100-year-old icebox

white frost refrigerator icebox

A White Frost Refrigerator from 1906. It had 2 revolving shelves and an internal water cooler.

Most iceboxes looked like plain wooden cabinets in the early 1900s. Without electric refrigeration, they were fitted inside with a space for  ice, which had to be topped up regularly to keep food cool and fresh.

Keeping the butter hard, the milk and cream sweet, and the meat from spoiling, is a part of the housewife’s trouble in the summer time.
White Frost ad from Carter’s Hardware, Sonora CA, 1913

The White Frost Refrigerator was the only cylinder-shaped icebox. A block of ice sat in a compartment under the lid and chilled air was vented into the food storage space below.  The makers said their distinctive model was:

  • More hygienic – easy-clean curved enamelled steel, food always in perfect condition
  • More scientific – better design, better insulated, economical with ice, revolving shelves
  • Desirable yet affordable – stylish, special, above-average price payable in installments

Advertising

white frost refrigerator crystal water cooler

The "Crystal" water cooler looked good on the side of White Frost Refrigerators in the 1920s. It left room inside for 3 shelves.

Excerpts from their ads show what White Frost Refrigerator Co. and their dealers thought buyers wanted. (To read about the manufacturer, designer, patent etc. please scroll down the page.)

…rolled steel, galvanized and beautifully enameled…nothing to swell, warp or shrink…no corners to dig out, no shelter for germs…absolutely wholesome…circulation of air so scientifically directed…there can be no moisture from the ice in the food chamber
Weis & Fisher ad, Rochester NY, 1905

…only sanitary refrigerator on the market, not a splinter of wood, no waste of ice, clean and odorless
Cahn’s ad, Youngstown OH, 1908

…sparkling, cleanly white…harmonizes so well with the modern white kitchens
Trice-O’Neal Furniture Store ad, Florida, 1925

In 1914 this ad targeted the man of the house. An icebox with US government approval, and a loving wife into the bargain. (Red lines added.)

Of course the advertisers wanted to appeal to women, but they also needed to persuade men. An ad in Popular Mechanics showed “Bob” and his wife in icebox-inspired closeness.

Features

  • 47in high
  • 27in diameter
  • Holding up to 110lb. ice
  • Double walls insulated with asbestos or aerofelt,  and maltha (asphalt) with “dead air space”, later models with granulated cork
  • 3 coats of white enamel inside
  • Exterior white with nickel or brass trim, or golden oak finish
  • Easy to move, on wheels
  • White Frost Sanitary Refrigerator an alternative name
  • “Crystal” water cooler attachment allowing for an extra shelf – from 1919

Manufacturers  and inventor

The first White Frosts were made in Jackson, Michigan even before a full patent was granted in 1906. The president of the company making them was Hugh L. Smith, a hardware entrepreneur and director of at least 2 other businesses. He also bought the Boeck Stove Company.

Charles H. Boeck patented various stove designs and other inventions too. His 1906 refrigerator patent describes him as assignor to the Jackson Metal Stamping Co. In the next few years he patented some improvements to the icebox. His 1919 patent for the water cooler attachment used a different company name: White Frost Refrigerator Co. White Frosts were sold through dealers in many different states, and were also available by mail order from Mechanic Street in Jackson. The price in its first few years was about $30, with a $20 end-of-summer bargain in Paterson NJ. By 1924 a store in Painesville OH was selling one at $74, reduced from over $90.

white frost refrigerator patent drawings

Boeck submitted 5 pages of drawings for the original 1906 patent.


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{ 26 comments… read them below or add one }

Allen Waddell January 4, 2013 at 5:41 pm

I Have a white frost refrigerator for sale in good condition from 1905

Reply

ROB LINTICK September 22, 2013 at 5:36 pm

is your white frost still for sale, what is the asking price, can you e-mail pictures to me and what part of the country you are at. thank you Rob

Reply

Michael Langner October 2, 2013 at 10:32 pm

Hi Allen,

I am interestet in buying your White Frost !
Please give me your Price.

Best Regards
from Kanada BC

Michael

Reply

mica hughes October 14, 2013 at 2:48 am

I have an antique white frost cylinder shaped icebox for sale. it is in good shape. the enamel has worn off but still has all the original hardware and shelving. I live right outside the FT Worth Texas area. leave me a reply if your interested and how to contact you and I will be sure to check it a few times daily. can also see pics on craigslist in this area

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Lance October 25, 2013 at 5:48 pm

looking for round ice box , can you send a few picture and how much you are asking for it.

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Roy dutchover June 9, 2016 at 1:29 am

I let roger Petrie not sure of spelling to refinish my grandmothers ice box in Hobbs,nm.but unable to locate him so I may get it back my mothers 80 th. Birthday coming up in July and she is asking for it so I am looking for it please help if any info.

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LEROY HUNT December 12, 2013 at 3:38 pm

I HAVE ONE JUST LIKE IN THE PICTURES NEEDS A LITTLE WORK BUT ITS IN VERY GOOD SHAPE FOR ITS AGE THE HINGES ON THE TOP NEED SCREWS I LIVE IN SOUTH JERSEY NOT FAR FROM WWB OR CBB BEST OFFER LOOKS JUST LIKE THE ONE IN THE PICTURE AT TOP OF PAGE LIKE THE ONE FROM 1906 HOME PRODUCTS JACKSON MICH ON LID

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Mark February 20, 2014 at 8:37 pm

I have one that is also in excellent shape and I am in the Cleveland Ohio area. All original nothing broken. I can provide photos if needed. I would consider selling it if someone is interested. Thank you!

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Dennis March 5, 2014 at 12:02 am

Looking for a water cooler for my White Frost Ice box
Send me an email and pics if possible.

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Sara March 19, 2014 at 1:49 pm

We also have a white frost ice box for sale. You can view our listing at http://tulsa.craigslist.org/atq/4356773963.html

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laura May 10, 2014 at 4:20 pm

I have a white frost ice box and am in need of hardware for the lid as wall as a latch. Need a source to find these specific items. Also, need graphics for for front. This is for a restoration we would like to do. we just found this piece.
Mine is insulated with granulated cork, could anyone tell me what year they started using the cork. Any help would be great

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josh June 16, 2014 at 1:36 am

Does anyone know where I could find the decals to redo a 1908 white frost fridge if a such thing exist

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Erin June 26, 2014 at 3:01 am

Did u try eBay?

Reply

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Gary September 21, 2014 at 4:42 pm

I have 1 I’d like to sell what’s the value of the refrigerator white frost 1906 651-347-9059 Gary

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Danny Helton October 13, 2014 at 2:08 pm

I have this old refrigerator but it needs some work. It is galvanized and missing a hinge. I am not sure how to make the repair on the top lid where the ice goes as it has a rusted out spot. I need information on how to repair galvanized tin. What is the age of this refrigerator and what is its value? This will decide how much work I can afford to put in to it. Thanks

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Bill Lipuma September 3, 2015 at 3:00 pm

I have restored a white frost ice box from early 1900s. I need for claw feet to finish the project. Please let me know where I can find them

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Bill Lipuma December 22, 2015 at 10:16 pm

I have just professionally restored my white frost ice box. I need the covers for the casters. I think they are called claw feet. I may consider selling the unit. Please call Bill Lipuma at (248)-765-1289.

Reply

R Williams May 9, 2016 at 7:04 pm

I have a White Frost round icebox for sale,,two small dents,orig. paint is about gone but all there and in good shape.Could even be used if wanted to.,,950.00

Reply

Sandy Foster May 22, 2016 at 11:14 pm

I have a round icebox for sale good condition just needs paint

Reply

Sandy Foster May 22, 2016 at 11:15 pm

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