A decorated Dower Chest (1754)

Contributed by Guernsey Museum

A decorated Dower Chest (1754)

This painted Dower Chest was made in Guernsey in 1754 and bears the initials RBH. Dower or Hope Chests, as they are also known in America, were made for young women to store linens, needlework and quilts before they got married. The front and top of this chest are decorated with stylized flowers in white and red on a blue background which is characteristic of work produced in the Channel Islands, particularly Guernsey, in the mid 18th century. We know that a number of craftsmen producing this type of work emigrated from Guernsey to America, particularly Pennsylvania and New Jersey. This example is almost indistinguishable from the finest American work of this period and illustrates the likelihood that Guernsey immigrants had a strong influence on the design and decoration of American Dower (Hope) Chests.

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