European Chests

Until the Middle Ages there were no closets in which to store clothes and household possessions. Even when attics finally came into being, they lacked ready accessibility, and cellars tended to be damp, less-than-ideal storage spaces. The chest finally provided Medieval Europeans a place in which to keep their belongings.

In its early form, the chest was a large, simple wooden box with a hinged lid. Although its primary function was storage and safekeeping of clothing and valuables, chests were also used to store linen - especially those kept as dowries for brides-to-be to present their future husbands. In many cases, they did double duty as additional seating at a time when chairs were considered a luxury.

Early transcontinental ship manifests show chests were often the only piece of furniture that accompanied European travelers to the New World. Chests built by 17-century craftsmen became the model for later English pieces designed in the Jacobean style. Later European designs influenced American joiners like Nicholas Disbrowe of Hartford, Connecticut, and Thomas Dennis of Ipswich, Massachusetts.


Quick Facts

  • In July 2015 at Bonhams, a William and Mary-style burl veneer high chest dating to 19th century England sold for $1,845
  • A rare, handmade Wythe County blanket chest made in 1880 by German craftsman Henry Huddle sold in 2007 auction at Case Antiques for $99,000
  • In 2012, an Italian Renaissance Revival-style carved chest-on-chest sold at a Skinner auction in Boston for $3,240, above its $1,800 high estimate

Recommended Items at Auction

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Oak Stationary chest in the form of a piano / organ 27.50 x 13 x 31.50 cm. (10.83 x 5.12 x 12.40 in.)
Oct 18, 7:00 PM AEDT
Oak Stationary chest in the form of a piano / organ 27.50 x 13 x 31.50 cm. (10.83 x 5.12 x 12.40 in.)
by Bargain Hunt Auctions
Est: AUD0- AUD0
AUD1308 Bids
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Danish Chest of Drawers
Oct 19, 6:00 PM AEDT
Danish Chest of Drawers
by Shapiro Auctioneers
Est: AUD300- AUD500
AUD5507 Bids
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Pair of Danish Chest of Drawers
Oct 19, 6:00 PM AEDT
Pair of Danish Chest of Drawers
by Shapiro Auctioneers
Est: AUD500- AUD700
AUD6007 Bids
George III Style Gray Painted Bow Front Side Chest, H: 32, W: 28, D: 18-1/2 in
Oct 19, 10:00 AM EDT
George III Style Gray Painted Bow Front Side Chest, H: 32, W: 28, D: 18-1/2 in
by Weschler's
Est: $50- $100
$1506 Bids
A Louis XVI Marble-Top Commode
Oct 19, 10:00 AM CDT
A Louis XVI Marble-Top Commode
by Hindman
Est: $800- $1,200
$4004 Bids
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Danish Tallboy c. 1960
Oct 19, 6:00 PM AEDT
Danish Tallboy c. 1960
by Shapiro Auctioneers
Est: AUD600- AUD800
AUD3802 Bids
Vint mahogany Fr prov style bow front high chest
Oct 17, 12:00 PM EDT
Vint mahogany Fr prov style bow front high chest
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$702 Bids
Unique Vintage Cedar Lined Blanket Chest
Oct 24, 6:00 PM EDT
Unique Vintage Cedar Lined Blanket Chest
by Caswell Prewitt Realty, INC
Est: $0- $0
$152 Bids
Louis XVI Style Walnut and Marble Top Commode
Oct 19, 10:00 AM EDT
Louis XVI Style Walnut and Marble Top Commode
by Weschler's
Est: $200- $400
$1502 Bids
French MT 2 drawer commode applied bronze
Oct 17, 12:00 PM EDT
French MT 2 drawer commode applied bronze
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $200- $400
$1001 Bid
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Danish Tallboy c. 1960
Oct 19, 6:00 PM AEDT
Danish Tallboy c. 1960
by Shapiro Auctioneers
Est: AUD500- AUD700
AUD2401 Bid
MCM Danish walnut 4 drawer high chest
Oct 17, 12:00 PM EDT
MCM Danish walnut 4 drawer high chest
by South Jersey Auction by Babington Auction Inc.
Est: $100- $300
$501 Bid
19TH C. ITALIAN NEOCLASSICAL THREE-DRAWER COMMODE
Oct 24, 10:00 AM EDT
19TH C. ITALIAN NEOCLASSICAL THREE-DRAWER COMMODE
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7501 Bid
19TH C. ITALIAN NEOCLASSICAL PARQUETRY COMMODE
Oct 24, 10:00 AM EDT
19TH C. ITALIAN NEOCLASSICAL PARQUETRY COMMODE
by Ahlers & Ogletree Inc.
Est: $1,500- $2,500
$7501 Bid
19th C Italian Walnut Bow Front Commode Cabinet
Oct 23, 10:00 AM EDT
19th C Italian Walnut Bow Front Commode Cabinet
by Atlanta Auction Gallery, ltd
Est: $800- $1,200
$2501 Bid
FRENCH LOUIS XVI STYLE MARBLE-TOP MAHOGANY COMMODE
Oct 24, 10:00 AM CDT
FRENCH LOUIS XVI STYLE MARBLE-TOP MAHOGANY COMMODE
by Austin Auction Gallery
Est: $600- $800
$4001 Bid
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LATE GEORGE III STYLE BOW FRONT CHEST, 19TH C.
Oct 20, 10:00 AM EDT
LATE GEORGE III STYLE BOW FRONT CHEST, 19TH C.
by Litchfield Auctions
Est: $300- $500
$1501 Bid
An Italian Baroque Walnut and Parquetry Commode
Oct 19, 10:00 AM CDT
An Italian Baroque Walnut and Parquetry Commode
by Hindman
Est: $1,000- $2,000
$5001 Bid
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Pierre CHAPO (1927-1986) Commode mod. R03A - circa 1965
Oct 20, 2:00 PM CEST
Pierre CHAPO (1927-1986) Commode mod. R03A - circa 1965
by Artcurial
Est: €800- €1,200
€8001 Bid
German empire commode
Oct 19, 10:00 AM CEST
German empire commode
by Deutsch Auktionen
Est: €120- €240
€1200 Bids

Sellers Who Sell European Chests


Austin Auction Gallery

Austin Auction Gallery

Renascimento

Renascimento

Auktionshaus Plückbaum

Auktionshaus Plückbaum

Hindman

Hindman