American Art Traditions


Large Chests

         A chest was one of the earliest pieces of furniture used by both men and women to contain their personal and household items. Now often known as "blanket chests", these were often decorated with paint or carving and commonly incorporated names or initials along with significant dates. Different styles of decoration are associated with different areas of the Colonies.  Painted chests from the Connecticut River Valley are typified by a limited palette -- usually light colored detail on dark wood.  Chests from the coastal areas of Connecticut often had chip carved "sunflower" designs.  Chests from Maine were often decorated with fanciful "vinegar" grain  painting.  In Pennsylvania German tradition, a brightly painted Dower Chest was a typical gift to a young women to contain her linen in preparation for marriage.

        Our scaled-down version (approx. 12"x6"x6"), will hold letters, jewelry, recipes or what-have-you. Traditional colors are red, green and blue for Pennsylvania styles and brown and mustard for New England styles. Each chest contains historical information about the style or pattern of decoration and the derivation of the design.

Pennsylvania Chests

Berks County Chests

Brown Unicorn Chest is adapted from a design on a chest painted for Margaret Kernen in 1788.


Blue Unicorn Chest.  This chest is patterned from a Unicorn chest on display at the Lebanon County Historical Society. Circa 1800.


Red Unicorn Chest.  This ornate unicorn chest is patterned after a privately owned chest dated 1789.


Berks County Style, red and blue versions



Lancaster County Chests 

Colonial Man. The design of this large chest, possibly of Berks County origin, shares many similarities in construction with chests found in Lancaster County.


Landis Valley Chest.  The pattern on this chest originates from a chest dated 1774, on display at Landis Valley Museum, in Lancaster County, PA.

Lancaster County Style chest is ideal for adding dates and names or initials.


Pomegranate Chest  is adapted from a chest made for Maria Stohler in 1788 by an unknown Lancaster County artist.


 Lebanon County Chests 

Christian Seltzer Chest.  This chest design with double arched panel is attributed to Christian Selzer, circa 1789 1831.


3 panel Seltzer Chest was adapted from one painted by Christian Selzer between 1771 and 1796.


Square Panel Chest, two panels on top and two panels on front, also based on a Seltzer style chest.

New England Chests 

This 1730 design is adapted from a chest made in the Connecticut River Valley.


See more New England Chests in Small Chests.

Our Own Design

Our Wedding Chest is ideal for personalizing with one or two names for a special occasion.


This chest with three arched panels  is our own interpretation of a traditional chest.


Eleanor Sweeney


Jan Taylor


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