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The Marriage Chest
The Chest and its Developments
The Travelling Trunk
The Protestant Bible Box
The Marriage Chest-The Chest and its Developments -The Coffer-The Casket-The Travelling Trunk-The Protestant Bible Box.
THE chest has played many parts. It was a box containing monkish manuscripts or ecclesiastical vestments. It was a seat; it became a bed. It was called a huche when it had a flat top and was of simple oblong form. It gave its name to the early craftsmen the huchiers, who became artists in fashioning choir stalls and other elaborate woodwork. When the chest had an arched top it was called a bahut. It was a bench or settle when it had a back and arms. Raised on feet it was a credence. Further elaborated with a canopy it became a dressoir. It is the prototype of the cupboard, the wardrobe, the kisten, the armoire, the commode, the cabinet, and the buffet. It is known as a coffer when it is usually bound with metal; it is termed a coffret when its dimensions are smaller. When elaborate and richly decorated it is a casket. The chest is universal. The East has produced boxes and cabinets
of unrivalled artistry, in wood, in metal, in porcelain. Marquetry and lacquered work, painting, damascening and enamel have gone to their embellishing.
As a wooden cradle the chest or coffer is man's first furniture, and at the end of mortal life it is his last, when he "goeth to his long home and the mourners go about the streets."
The Marriage Chest.-This variety of important and highly decorated chests is found in various parts of Europe with characteristic ornamentation according to the country of origin. They held the trousseau of the bride. Large oak chests reserved for the storage of linen are still called "dower chests."
In Italy during the first half of the sixteenth century these marriage chests or cassoni were of great beauty and exhibited the grace and refinement of the renaissance. They were usually of walnut with gilded gesso work or with painted panels, some have armorial bearings. They are often inlaid with marquetry of various coloured woods, silver, ivory, or tortoiseshell. The highest glory in the art of intarsia and marquetry had been reached in Italy at this time. A rich heritage is found in the stalls and benches of churches at Bologna, Lucca, Florence, Perugia, Genoa, and many other cities in Italy. Nor was the richness of the bridal chest confined to one country. French chests exhibit an absence of marquetry, but revel in a wealth of carving. The coffret or