An Early 19thC Painted Pine Blanket Chest; With Memorium Verses for Ann & Thomas Swaby 1824

Origin: English, Lowth, Lincolshire
Period: Regency
Provenance: The Swaby Family, and thence by descent
Date: c.1820
Depth: 18.5”
Width: 36.5”
Height: 19.5” (all at top)

The faux birch satinwood and mahogany painted pine blanket chest having a fitted candle box with separate drawer under, and original peacock blue lined interior, with two gilt scripted vellum verses of memorium to Ann and Thomas Swaby of Marsh Chapel, Louth, Lincolnshire and dated to 1824, each applied to the inner lid,, the trunk with ivory escutcheon and on bracket feet, surviving from the first quarter of the nineteenth century.

This well-made chest has obvious signs of use: there are old scuffs and the paintwork has naturally distressed a little in the appropriate areas. Remaining in very original overall condition there really isn’t any changes to note as to how she would have appeared in the Regency period.

This chest was purchased from the same village in Lincolnshire as the Swaby’s and that vendor had originally purchased it directly from the family. Ann Swaby (born Baldock) was born in 1747 and married Thomas Swaby who was born in 1748, in Marshchapel Louth, Lincolnshire. They had one son, also named Thomas Swaby. Ann passed away in 1824, at age 77 as read on the verses.

The pair of verses are gilt scripted onto vellum and are headed ‘Verses – composed on the occasion of the death of Thomas Swaby’ and ‘Verses on the death of Ann Swaby’ respectively. They each then have prose ‘The Dying Christian Farewell’ and ‘The Dying Mother’s Address’.

Trunks date back to pre-medieval times and were made in a large variety of shapes and sizes and from many different materials. Candle boxes within them have been in use since the same period. We have never seen a chest with memorium verses applied to the interior before.

A very good quality chest, with a touching, if ever so slightly macabre, secret.