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Trunk

  • Place of origin:

    England (made)

  • Date:

    1689-1702 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Softwood, covered with leather, and with brassy metal fittings and studs

  • Museum number:

    497-1894

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Sturdy, lockable trunks like this were indispensable. They were used for the transport and storage of valuable goods. High quality textured leather from Russia (known as ‘Russia leather’) made them lightweight and water-resistant. Decorative studding and conspicuous mounts were used for the purposes of identification and to show the high status of the owner. Originally the leather was a rich red colour (as remains visible on the underside of the lid), and the brass mounts and studs were golden. The original effect would have been much brighter and more impressive than today.

Physical description

Trunk with a flat lid, consisting of a compartment above two drawers (all three fitted with locks), covered with leather, and studded with brass round-headed studs (in three sizes) forming a pattern of scrolls and rosettes. The leather (probably cow, and not textured) is now a dark brown colour but where it has not discoloured the original rich red colour can be seen. The lid does not extend the full depth of the chest, but its rear edge is inset, and held on three external, strap hinges concealed under the leather. The exposed edges of the lid have a projecting lip that meets, in closing, a reciprocal rebate on the chest. The flat top of the lid is ornamented with studs forming the monogram of William III and Mary II, surmounted by a crown. On the front corners of the chest and lid are 6 pierced, brass angle reinforcers (squiers). The ends decorated with straight rows of studs, and the back plain. At each end is a wrought metal (apparently brass) bail handle.
With a steel key of late 17th century date.

Of nailed construction. The ends are vertically grained, and at drawer level they are faced inside with horizontally grained thin boards to support the dust board which is housed in a groove cut into the ends. The bottom consists of front to back boards nailed up into the front and back. Underneath the bottom, along the front, middle and back are three battens forming sled feet. The drawers of softwood, nailed, with front to back boards nailed up.

The main cavity is lined with plain white paper, apparently applied over marbled paper (of which traces survive on the exterior). Underneath the main cavity are with two drawers, one above the other, fitted with pierced, brass lock plates, and two ring handles on pierced floral back-plates, with traces of a textile (possilby silk) behind the upper drawer PR handle. The drawers are lined with plain paper but traces of marbled paper survive on the drawer undersides, suggesting that the drawers may have been lined in the same way. (The plain paper would appear to be a later addition. Most trunks of this design seem to have had crimson silk lining, and it is possible that the plain paper was added when such textile became worn and/or were removed.)

Some old leather patches have been applied to the surface, and there is evidence of old consolidation.

Place of Origin

England (made)

Date

1689-1702 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Softwood, covered with leather, and with brassy metal fittings and studs

Marks and inscriptions

Dimensions

Height: 68.3 cm, Width: 96.5 cm, Depth: 56.5 cm

Object history note

Bought for £20 from Miss E.M.Dornford, c/o Dr Dornford, 610 Mile End road, London
RF106097/1894

Historical context note

See also Sheelah Ruggles-Brise, Some 'Royal' Coffers, Connoisseur (August 1952), pp.19-24

Comparable objects
-Chest with the Graham crest, at Norton Conyers, Yorkshire, illustrated in Country Life, Oct 16, 1986 p.1200ff (vol. CLXXX, no 4652)
-Chest with MR, at The National Trust, Florence Court
-Chest with AR, at The National Trust, Scotney Castle
-Chest with CR, The Royal Collection
-Chest with KR, at Norfolk Collections Centre
-Chest with KR and twin cupboard doors enclosing drawers, Arundel Castle
-Chest with two drawers and initial WR at Florence Court (NT), Northern Ireland; attributed to Richard Pigg, possibly acquired by William Willoughby Cole, 3rd Earl of Enniskillen (Furniture History Society Newsletter, no. 214, May 2019, p.30)

Descriptive line

English, 1680 - 1700, monogram William & Mary, leather and brass studs

English, 1680 - 1700, monogram William & Mary, leather and brass studs

part of chest, English, 1680 - 1700, leather and brass studs

to chest; English, 1680-1700,

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

R.W.Symonds, The Craft of the Coffer and Trunk Maker in the 17th century, The Connoisseur, May 1934, pp.40-6
Dictionary of English Furniture (Country Life 1924-7, 2nd rev. ed. 1954), Percy Macquoid and Ralph Edwards (1924-7); see entry on Chests fig.38
R.W.Symonds, 'Standards, Coffers and Trunks', in Country Life, February 5th, 1943, pp.262-3
Fryman, Olivia, 'Coffer-Makers to the Late Stuart Court', in Furniture History, vol. LII (2016), pp. 1-16, illustrated in fig. 7, p. 8, figs 9, 11 and 12 on p. 9 and fig. 14 on p. 10

Labels and date

Treasures of the Royal Courts: Tudors, Stuarts and the Russian Tsars label text:

Travelling trunk
1689–1702

Sturdy, lockable trunks like this were indispensable. They were used for the transport and storage of valuable goods. High quality textured leather from Russia (known as ‘Russia leather’) made them lightweight and water-resistant. Decorative studding and conspicuous mounts were used for the purposes of identification and to show the high
status of the owner.

London
Softwood, covered with leather, with metal fittings and studs
With the monogram of William III and Mary II
V&A 497-1894 []

Materials

Softwood; Leather; Brass

Categories

Furniture; Containers; Household objects; Leather

Collection

Furniture and Woodwork Collection

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