The humble pine chest in all its many forms has been around since the Middle Ages and still remains a central part of home furniture. It has evolved from its beginnings purely as a storage chest, its metamorphosis into fine cabinetry as the chest of drawers, to its integral role as a piece of working furniture commonly known as a blanket chest during the Victorian period. Almost all servants, nurseries and work areas had solidly built examples of these antique chests and many fine honey coloured waxed Victorian and Edwardian examples can still be bought today.
It was most often the children’s nursery where many of these old chests ended up. Even in the Victorian and Edwardian periods, much older 18th century examples were being used to store all manner of things. Most were of a fairly basic rectangular frame construction. Some had stencil decoration and simulated oak graining and ebony inlay, other examples were smaller and covered with leather or leather-cloth and studded, but a large majority were painted in a single plain colour. Due to fashions for stripping these pieces from the 1960s onwards, very few pine chests remain in their original condition, although the honeyed bees waxing produces a very pleasing effect.
When buying an old pine chest, check to make sure that it has its original hinges, also that the candle box is still inside, and if the chest has been stripped, look at the quality of the wood as bad stripping can irreparably damage old pine. Fine examples of Victorian and Edwardian pine chests are still to be found through good antiques dealerships in Preston, Lancashire, Cumbria and other parts of the UK.
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