Spanning centuries and continents, the hope chest has traditionally been a place to store the treasures of young women awaiting marriage. Popularity has waxed and waned, but an online search will quickly reveal that hope chests are still desired and used today.
Hope chests were used to collect and preserve a woman's trousseau as far back as the late medieval times. In some cultures, hope chests contained the only possessions a woman actually owned.
Traditionally given to young women by their parents, hope chests were filled with the goods needed to set up a household, often items handcrafted by the young ladies themselves as they matured.
In different countries around the world, hope chests have had various names and forms; the Italian cassoni, the Dutch kast, the German schrank, and the English glory box are examples.
Cedar is commonly used for creating hope chests, due to its resistance to bacteria, fungi, and decay, as well as its insect repellant properties.
Sulfur inlay is a decorative technique, used the late 18th and early 19th centuries by Pennsylvanian chest crafters, that involves filling carved channels in the wood with molten sulfur.
photo by RichinMN, CC BY-NDW 2.0
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