My favorite antique piece

jlc712April 2, 2010

This blanket chest is another hand-me-down from my MIL. She thinks it is Italian from the 1600's. She acquired it from a house they bought on the east end of Long Island.

It is made from huge slabs of wood, and everything is hand carved. The back is one long piece of raw unfinished wood. The carvings of dragons, the family crest in the center, and the cherubs on each end are gorgeous. I think the hinges have been replaced, because you can see the outline of the old long narrow hinge straps. It is full of wormholes and the feet and bottom trim are pretty battered.

I have tried to research the family crest with no luck. It has a cross on the right side, and three crescent moons on the left side.

I would love to learn more about this piece!!! I am a terrible photographer, but here are some pics (please note the decorative Matchbox car underneath the chest. Oops):

Thanks,

Jen

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sheesh

How fabulous! It must weigh a ton.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2010 at 11:01PM
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Fori is not pleased

LOve those navels! Is it a cassone?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:07AM
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sunnyca_gw

What does the inside look like, divided or just 1 space?

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:38AM
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jlc712

Yes, it is heavy :)

And yeah, aren't those some strange looking navels on the cherubs? When my little boy was crawling, he would crawl over to the cherubs, pull himself up, and kiss them. So funny!

When I tried to research in the past, I did see the term cassone. Still not sure if that is correct!

The inside is not divided at all.

Thanks,
Jen

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 2:54AM
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lindac

Well the word "cassone" is just a term for what in another country might be called a dower chest.
Not sure it matters at all what you call it...it's a chest....trunk...big box on legs! LOL!
Those cherubs on the corners ought to be a clue as to country....but I don't know which one! Looks like oak to me.
But note the handles...obviously meant to carry it with....and I'll bet that they show some heavy duty fastenings on the inside.
It's very early....maybe even 17th century.
But Unless you know more about the family who sold it....were they collectors of some sort of thing or where did their ancestors come from....it will be hard to pinpoint.
Linda c

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 10:20AM
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harebelle

It's a cassone, as fitting to the time period which produced this chest. As Linda stated, it's a bridal chest. Some very fanciful cassones were made, these chests were produced for a few hundred years.

It's an excellent piece and certainly looks 17th c. I think the baroque navels on the cherubs are a hoot. And check out those abs!

The top is a later replacement to make this less ornamentation and more useful in the limited spaces in which we live nowadays. It has been taken straight off another object rather than made for this one, you can see it's not quite a fit and has stressed in protest. Rear feet have been redone and possibly set in further from the rear corners. I'll bet you can see where the original feet were a little more prominently placed if you turn it over.

You have an outstanding object. I admit that I'm jealous! Treasure it.

You may be able to locate someone to restore some of the egg beading and forepaws if you're so inclined. Ask a curator at museum, or high-end auction saleroom.

Here is a link that might be useful: Cassone

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 12:37PM
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sombreuil_mongrel

The creepy creatures are properly called "monopodia" meaning one-footed. Creepier still, it looks like they have been de-limbed; the once had forearms and hands!
Casey

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 1:45PM
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jlc712

I am so impressed with all your knowledge! Thank you.

My first reaction to the top being replaced was no way, as the wood color/tone/feel is exactly the same. Wrong! When I looked closely, it obviously doesn't fit perfectly. Interesting. And sure enough, the back feet are different, and there is blocking and repair where they were attached. It looks like an ooooold repair, but you can definitely see it. The front feet are all of one solid piece with the cherubs, I mean, creepy monopodia...

And Casey, yikes! I had never noticed those little areas where the arms were. In my mind, they had their arms folded behind them.

I can't wait to share this with my DH and MIL. They are going to be so impressed with my knowledge....

Thanks,
Jen

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 9:14PM
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jlc712

One more question-- what is the best way to clean this? I have never dared do much beside dust it. I have cleaned it a few times with very diluted Murphy's Oil Soap-- but as you can tell, it's been a while :)

    Bookmark   April 3, 2010 at 9:37PM
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patty_cakes

The chest is magnificent! If I were to find something as grand, I would be so satisfied I don't think I would ever look at other antiques again! Acquiring it from a family member makes it 3 times as special. Do you have a child you will pass it on to?

I think Murphy's Oil is a big no-no for wood, especially old wood. I'm not sure, but I would say lemon oil, or virgin olive oil. Linda as well as others who know antique well will give you the right answer, I just have heard NOT MO. ;o)

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 12:03AM
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lindac

Mineral spirits and a Q-tip!...Partly kidding but not entirely...I am sure there is centurys' worth of gunk in the carvings.
Linda C

    Bookmark   April 4, 2010 at 10:46AM
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