Blanket Chests were very popular during the 17th - 19th Centuries. In its simplest form, the blanket chest was a large wooden box with a hinged lid. Chests were used for storage of linens, clothes and valuables. They were also used as additional seating for chairs  which were a luxury in most homes. The form was later referred to hope chests or bridal chests. Having a hinged top and sometimes drawers they were not only practical but beautifully decorated. Today they are prized more for their aesthetics than functionality with the best examples elevated to works of art.

Blanket chests can be categorized in three groups: hardwood chests, usually walnut, cherry, or oak; softwood chests,usually pine and/or poplar;paint decorated chests usually pine or poplar. Chest makers made by woodworkers were prevalent throughout the Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states. Some chests were made in the deep South. The origin of the chest makes a huge difference in value.

Closets were not typical, attics were not accessible and cellars were damp. Over the years, drawers were added to the basic form, increasing the height and evolving into a "mule chest". The drawers were used to by the Colonist to store "Mules" or slippers.  Most chests have a candle drawer or document compartment. Many have bracketed feet and dovetail construction. The hinged lid have mortised chest locks, strike plate and key holes. This was to protect valuables, ammunition, money and documents.

Between 1834 and 1928, a group of Amish/Mennonite craftsmen produced a unique and distinctive style of furniture that is prized today. They were located in a valley south of Johnstown, Pa called Soap Hollow. Soap Hollow furniture differs from "Pa.Dutch"  furniture in that it is less colorfully decorated,usually with simple gold colored stenciled shapes and the name of the maker or initials of owner on the front.

Colors are often rich red, black and dark green. Thick shaped skirts, backboards and bracket feet, as well as diamond shaped keyhole escutcheons are identifying features. Same patterns were used by makers for generations resulting in a remarkable consistent, recognizable style.

The chest we are offering fulfills this style.  This Soap Hollow blanket chest has the initials M.T , and date of  1848
on the front of the chest. The initials are carved while the date is painted.  It is dovetail and mortised joints.  Two bottom drawers are on the bottom of the chest in between the carved initials. Each drawer has painted rings at the end in black paint, glass pulls, diamond keyholes with striker plates and mortised chest locks. There is black trim along lid, top edge of drawers and apron. Bracket feet are painted black as is the scrolled apron. Wallpaper has been added to the inside of the chest and covers the document box.

This exceptional example of a Soap Hollow chest measures 30"T, 49"W and 21"D. It is in excellent condition with minor wear.

# MCB 21082


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