Help dating mahogany chest

Discussion in 'Antique Discussion' started by Patrick Sparks, Feb 25, 2024.

  1. Patrick Sparks

    Patrick Sparks New Member

    I'm hoping you all can help me date this old chest. It is made of mahogany, had two tills, is hand planed, and would have had a lift-lid but that is missing. Dimensions of the box: 31 7/8 long x 14 5/8 wide x 13 1/4 tall. The box has very well defined wear on two corners that appear to be from rope abrasion.

    It has a half mortise two-strike lock made of sheet iron. The internal latch mechanism has a copper or brass cover plate and a spiral spring.

    The handles were iron (one remains). All the metal is highly pitted.

    Attached Files:

  2. Aquitaine

    Aquitaine Is What It IS! But NEVER BORED!

    Very to see the age!!! Which it looks like it has plenty of!!! Here are your full size images......for future reference, when loading and posting, click on the VERY TOP image, where it says to INSERT EVERY IMAGE AS A FULL SIZE IMAGE... saves a lot of wear & tear on everyone's eyes, and a better evaluation for you!!! My thoughts would be early 1800s, but those flat head screws just might be big deal!! Others should be along to help you better!!

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  3. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    It's old lol, I would say 1700-1750. The problem with dating something that's totally hand made is who made it and where, were they at the forefront of lock making for the time or were they in some backwater 40 or 50 years behind the times? The mahogany looks Cuban and no one would make a chest (large bit of utilitarian furniture) from Cuban mahogany after 1780 because it was already running out and the price was so high.
    Any Jewelry and Patrick Sparks like this.
  4. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    Any history of where it came from? Also the screws, are they hand/blacksmith made? You will be able to tell because the pitch of the threads are irregular and hand filed.
    Patrick Sparks likes this.
  5. Patrick Sparks

    Patrick Sparks New Member

    Thank you for the advise on the photos. Much better!

    The screws are replacements. The original nails are hand forged/cut. Badly corroded but I will try to clean one up.

    I agree that it is Cuban, or at least New World mahogany. There are little blocks of wood in the lock. I will try to identify the species, maybe a clue.

    I picked it up at an antique shop in south Texas, for $65.
    808 raver, Aquitaine and bercrystal like this.
  6. Patrick Sparks

    Patrick Sparks New Member

    Here is one of the nails from that held the bottom to the sides. This is the best one. The other nails had very thin tack-like heads, also hand forged. 20240226_115045.jpg
    Any Jewelry and 808 raver like this.
  7. 808 raver

    808 raver Well-Known Member

    The American market for antiques is a total mystery to me, sometimes I see things going for a fortune and think wow that's such a high price for what t is and sometimes I buy from America thinking they didn't know what it was. So with that in mind, the price you paid ($65) is what I would expect for a lidless chest from the 18th c but as a antique restorer the lock (something I would expect to be missing) and the Cuban mahogany makes it a great deal, I can easily see a restorer paying well for the lock and the Cuban mahogany, the Cuban mahogany has a deep oxidation and that's something that can't be faked. I suspect it's worth far more in bits than it is now. Here is a great site for learning about wood and it's historic use, I often use the site to find out when and who were using the wood and how desirable it was.
  8. komokwa

    komokwa The Truth is out there...!

    Sidebar tale...

    friends visiting Cuba in the 80's, asked locals who were carving wood for tourist trade...where they got their stock , as it didn't seem readily available to struggling road side artists....

    the answer was, when ever an old mansion was being torn down , the word went out and they would gather and haul away as many old beams , flooring , doors , and furniture that was at the demolition site !

    They saw a guy selling Bic lighters.....refilling old empty ones..

    Cubans are masters of recycling......before it was even a thing here...
  9. Patrick Sparks

    Patrick Sparks New Member

    Yes, I saw the same in Haiti. No 2x4 got wasted.
    komokwa and Any Jewelry like this.
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