Histories hidden within chests

Every woodworker likes to make chests. There is something about the practicality and simplicity of design that appeals to anyone. Although the chests seen here can be used for most any “chesty” purpose, these were made with weddings in mind. One of the common wedding gifts that an early American bride would receive was a chest. The intent was to store the valuable things that the household would accumulate over the years of marriage. Usually these things were textile products of one sort or another so the traditional wood was cedar, a softwood whose aromatic scent would repel moths. As puritan culture matured and got wealthy, the chest became a thing that women would keep their few treasured personal possessions it. They might store a lock of hair, a cameo, their child’s first toy or any one of the thousands of small but meaningful objects we all collect in our lifetime. Upon the woman’s death, the chest’s contents would be inventoried at probate. Histories of the time have been written based on the contents of these chests.

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