Jan & John Maggs

Antiques and Art

Early oak scratch-decorated plank coffer in paint

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An oak plank coffer, sometimes referred to as a “sword chest”, in as found condition. A simple chest built of six boards, the face, top, back, and bottom with their grains oriented horizontally, the two ends, vertically. This form and its construction came to be the predominant form for the humble “blanket chests” of Colonial America, but it is considerably rarer in England during the same period. English coffers of this type tend to be tall and narrow, possibly because of a scarceness of the wide pine boards readily available to the settlers.

Most of the English examples we’ve seen over the years have been unpainted and undecorated. This piece has both: a modest scratch-decorated band framing the iron lock face, and a coat of red covering the face, lid, and sides. The ends of this coffer terminate in a decorative cutout that provides both visual interest and four feet. The face is chip carved at its ends, more for stability than for decoration.

The coffer has its original iron butterfly hinges, but the till which was on the right end is lost. The single board at the bottom has been harmed by moisture. We’ve cleaned it and hardened where necessary and added two small cleats to the legs beneath this board, stabilizing it and reducing some of the bend it had upon arrival. We’ve also cut a piece of corrugated cardboard which can be placed over the bottom, if desired.

English, ca. 1650

Dimensions: 46 ¾” X 14 ¾”; Height: 23”

Price: $1,250

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Inventory #25879

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