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Early American Blanket Chest - Pine in Red/Brown Paint -Signed w/ Provenance

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Trunks1567 of 2630Plywood trunk with retro covering needed fixingLooking for information
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    Posted 7 years ago

    (807 items)

    So today I found this huge early blanket chest/seaman's chest. It is a long story involving much fate...but I came across this for a ridiculously low price, and the rest is history. I am asking for some opinions about both the piece itself, and a strange "message" written in chalk on the inside of the top board (see image 2).

    So the piece itself appears to be a early to mid 19th century six board blanket chest in red/brown paint/wash. It is dovetailed with forged iron strap hinges and various nails some looking like rosehead nails. The boards are made from one piece of wood 19 1/4 inches in width. The box is 52 inches long and 17 1/2 inches in height. The dovetails have me thinking early 19th century. The wood is pine, thus I am almost sure this is American made.

    Something that caught my eye right away is a message/signature written inside the box. You can see it in one of the pics, but I am going to write it out, it reads:

    "20 feet of Samuel Phillips Board
    for Mills Phillips
    _____ Samuel Phillips _p to Mills Phillips
    20 (with "38" written under the 20) feet of board"

    And so I did some research on the names Samuel Phillips and Mills Phillips. I am really curious to see if anyone can find anything about these names, the chest, or a combination of the two. This is one of those finds that we live for! Thanks and Enjoy the posting!

    PS the total amount of 19 1/4 inch board used to make this chest equals 246.5 inches......or 20.5 feet.

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    1. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      I forgot to add I bought this at an antique store. The owner told me she found it during a recent home clean out. It was in the attic of an old home in Neptune, NJ. There were several other trunks found in the same attic, although none quite like this one.
    2. surfdub66 surfdub66, 7 years ago
      Cool Intresting chest ;-)
    3. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      Thanks surfdub! I've acutally found some interesting info on the names Samuel and Mills Phillips.

      In this article:

      "According to Ganz’s writings, the split-level house was built before 1726. Phillips, the son of the first settled minister in Brookhaven, and his wife raised their family here.

      George’s son Samuel owned the home and the mills after his father’s death in 1771. Ganz’s research showed that during the Revolutionary War, British officers occupied the house. Samuel’s son Mills Phillips was the next in line to inherit the home and the mills."
    4. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      In addition I came across this book:

      It is the history of Long Island. Samuel Phillips was born on Oct. 26, 1728. He married Sarah Mills in 1754. They resided in Smithtown on Long Island until Samuel's death in 1806. Here is the interesting part, Samuel and Sarah had a son, Issac Mills Phillips, born June 18, 1760.

      Was this chest a wedding gift to Samuel Phillips and Sarah Mills? Or could it have been a gift from Samuel to his son Issac "Mills" Phillips. Either way, the fact that this piece was found in an old home in NJ with such an inscription, suggests that this is possible that it belonged to the Phillips' sometime in the mid to late 1700's.

      HOWEVER, my gut feeling is that the construction of this box dates after 1800.
    5. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 years ago
      BHock you are a problem child sometimes. I would give this a date between 1790 through around 1830ish. I would guess made in Schoharie, NY from the pictures. I call this a naked chest because most you will find have been painted or otherwise modified. I would wonder about the chalk surviving the years but it is quite possibly from a soapstone marker and not chalk. My 2 cents.
    6. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      fhr, thank you for taking the time to give your opinion. I put out an email to Smithtown's Historical Society to see if they have any information on the Phillips family. Who knows, it is worth a shot. Thanks again!
    7. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 years ago
      I didn't dig terribly deep on the names but I did find a Samuel that was a trunk and box maker. He had a patent along with another fellow (Hough I think) for a special design trunk latch. I believe that was 1794. It was a bit confusing because there were references to companies in Philly, Brooklyn and up state NY. I gathered that the materials came from up state NY and trunks/chests were either built there and/or the materials shipped to Brooklyn and Philly for being built/sold. With the exception of the 1794 entry I didn't see the other dates being useful in regards to this piece. I believe the second person on the patent was listed as a chest maker in Brooklyn, NY. I probably should have saved the site but wasn't on my own computer at the time.
    8. Zowie Zowie, 7 years ago
      I wrote the names down just to have a look & see if I can find something else you just never know I could fluke it have a great day
    9. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      thanks zowie! thanks official, fhr, vetraio, manikin, agram, mike, surf, ho2, jonb, fortapache, sean for the loves!
    10. Zowie Zowie, 7 years ago
      Pleasure buddy how's things good I hope
    11. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      things are great zowie, and you?
    12. Sergey Sergey, 7 years ago
      super and convenient for things! BHock45
    13. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 7 years ago
      i'm not sure how long these kinds of hinges were made, but i saw quite a few of them in my sister's 1792 tavern/hostel in southern NH. i don't think this would have been a gift - it's too utilitarian. very practical, northern new england / nh kind of piece. maybe even a tavern piece?
    14. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      sergey thanks for the compliment! ho2cultcha, I am not sure about a tavern piece, I think it is a typical blanket chest, about the hinges, they are right for that time period. Truly amazing how I found this in its original condition just sitting there. Really one of my best picks.
    15. hotairfan hotairfan, 7 years ago
      nice early pine chest the forged hinges .... great that you are tracking history of the origin
    16. BHock45 BHock45, 7 years ago
      hotairfan, thanks for the comment! I am kind of at a dead end with the research. I am thinking of taking a trip to Smithtown to do some local research. Take care!
    17. fhrjr2 fhrjr2, 7 years ago
      If you get to southern NH and are close to Peterborough, stop and show Charlie Cobb your pictures. He has both an antique store and an auction house. Everyone in town knows the Cobbs so finding him isn't difficult. Although I believe his son is now taking command.
    18. Analognerd Analognerd, 7 years ago
      I have a box that looks a bit like yours. Mine is 18" I should put it up for you too see. I found mine in 1978 in a south NH or North Hampton antique store off Rt.1 .
      Ya, like a idiot, I stained mine rosewood.
    19. ho2cultcha ho2cultcha, 6 years ago
      i agree that the hinges are 1790s, but i think up to about 1810/15. i've seen chalk writing which has survived since then in boxes, closets, etc. before. but the box design seems extremely severe and unadorned for a blanket chest, but i could be wrong. more like a tool chest, no? usually i see a little bit of beading, or some simple decoration or even a slightly ornate foot on a blanket chest. but maybe it's just a very primitive, simple one?
    20. BHock45 BHock45, 6 years ago
      yeah, I agree it is very plain. Not all blanket chests were "dowry chests". Actually in the Wallace Nutting text he says something like, "Chests on legs are blanket chests, chests that sit flat on the floor are seamen's chests." The piece is way to large to be a tool box. It is 52 inches long. Toolboxes are portable. Thanks for the comment ho2!

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