Saturday, December 20, 2008

Sweet as sugar...

Let's examine this little gem of an antique...for just a moment. This chest is known around the Kentucky and Tennessee area as a Sugar Chest. Back in the 1800's sugar was quite expensive and prized. This piece of furniture was quite functional in the household. Sugar would have been kept in this type of chest, under lock and key. It has been said that the lady of the house knew, down to the teaspoon, just how much sugar was in the chest at any given time.



In those days sugar came molded in hard, cone shapes. Sometimes molded into loaf shapes. The sugar chest opened at the top and the sugar cones/loaves were kept inside. Some sugar chests also had a small space for the knife to be kept next to the sugar. A small ledger drawer was also a traditional part of the sugar chest.




Typically these chests were made of walnut, but I will say that in our area the few I have come across at auctions, were made of cherry. Usually they were made of four boards. This makes it special because it would have been constructed of virgin timber. In our modern times, wood furniture is made from several boards being glued together to make the top, front, sides, and back. A piece of virgin timber would have been large enough so that the entire top (or sides/bottom) would have been made from one log.

So....hey Santa Baby....I know you are all magical and stuff. You know, I was thinking that you could just drop one of these little gems down my chimney. I have an antique house, so I think it would match pretty well with an antique chest.




7 comments:

  1. There's a beautiful in Shelbyville for $60,000. Oak and pristine.

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  2. At $60,000 Santa really will have to drop it down the chimney.

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  3. How expensive are these? That's enif to buy a house in some parts of the USA. Speaking of houses I love the house on the header is that your home?

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  4. Neat-I never knew about them! Loved the history of how they stored the sugar.

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  5. That's one gorgeous piece! Love the history behind it - thanks for sharing.

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  6. Karen,
    That is my house on the header. It is over 100 yrs old and we still use a woodstove in the winter.

    The sugar chest I pictured was listed on e-bay for $8,000 and it had some damage on the top. Some sugar chests can go for incredibly high prices.

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  7. We have the one from my mother's family that was brought from Virginia ca. 1781- I believe my sister is supposed to inherit it, even though I've coveted it all my life. Yes, most of these are walnut, a few (usually later ones) are oak. Ours is cherry.

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