Virginia, circa 1790
H: 18.25″; W: 12.25″; D: 8.25″
This well constructed six drawer spice or valuables chest dates to the last decade of the 18th century. The upper three drawers have dividers and all retain their original pairs of pulls. The flat panel door is mortise and tenoned and the drawers have dovetailed construction with chamfered bottoms set into routed sides with multiple applied glue blocks. The case features a dovetailed top with applied moldings with sides that extend to form straight bracket feet. The front and side skirts are attractively shaped to give the chest presence and “lift.” The chest retains a mellow old surface.
In discussing the spice chest form in Southern Furniture Hurst and Prown suggest that the term “spice box” as used in the period accurately described the initial use of such small, lockable cabinet but that these small multiple drawer chests found many uses. They likely served as secure storage for items such as jewelry, coins and currency, watches or other small valuable. Our spice chest is similar in form and construction to the example catalogued as 127 and attributed to Piedmont Virginia in Southern Furniture. Similar chests are recorded in MESDA research files S-1317 and S-6806; a later Federal era chest attributed to the Maryland piedmont was recorded in MESDA research file S-7327.