Recent antique furniture auctions in Cumbria and Lancashire have seen good prices realised on 18th and 19th century antique chests. In Cumbria, PFK Auctions saw two Georgian oak mule chests each realise £580, one against an upper estimate of £300.
17th century chests offer even better returns. At Bonhams of Chester, just across the border from Lancashire, two antique chests from the Charles II period realised over £1000 each; again, these were “mule” chests. Evidently, this type of antique chest is highly collectable at the moment – but what are exactly is a mule chest?
Often incorrectly called blanket boxes, mule chests are a type of low-mounted coffer, featuring a storage compartment with a hinged lid , generally above a single drawer or row of drawers (often a single drawer with dummy fronts). They were highly popular during the Restoration period, when they would be finely carved with split mouldings, cushion panels and sometimes the owner’s name. In some cases, the panels are converted to doors and the lid nailed shut. Although this makes the chest more useful for storage (as you can stand things on top) it makes it less valuable.
The Lancashire mule chest is a particular type of antique chest, also called a Lancashire dresser. Dating from the Georgian period, these feature two (or more) rows of drawers below a deep lidded compartment. In later examples, the front is often disguised with dummy drawer fronts.
If you have a genuine Lancashire antique chest for sale, a Preston antique dealer will certainly be very interested, and can offer you an accurate valuation.
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