-----In 2004 we bought a falling-down house and 30 acres. This blog documents our progress-----

Saturday, January 15, 2005

antique suitcase trunks and russian chests

Last weekend we met a friend at Camden market for lunch and stumbled across these amazing giant suitcases from the 1920-30's. One was metal, the rest are some kind of wood. They're really sturdy with locks and they have loads of worn old stickers from ships and hotels. Dave loved them too so we bought them all and are going to use them first to ship things back to Australia in, and then eventually they'll be used as tables, benches, chests for the end of beds, etc. They're fantastic and so big that we'll be able to fit the railings in from the oak staircase (see earlier post) which will solve one of our dilemmas in getting them home.

We've also come across some other amazing painted wooden chests on Ebay which we're going to use for the same purpose, although might keep them to use here first. We've bought one already and there's another great one coming up in a week. Here is a picture and description of the one we've bought already:

"Delightful pine trunk dating from around 1870 from the north-west of Russia. It features the original folk-art paintwork and cast-iron banding and is preserved in excellent condition. The paint is to all sides. A small part of the iron escutcheon is missing. There are wrought-iron handles. Measurements: 25" (63cm) x 17.5" (45) x 14" (36)"
russian trunk

The guy I got it from is a dealer who imports from North West Russia. He normally sells to trade only but thought he'd experiment with Ebay. I asked him to tell me more about their history and this is what he said - "In terms of the boxes: no you won't have seen anything like them before. Those such as yours are very rare, even in Russia. They come from the extreme north-west from a very small area only in Arkhangelsk (ie: Archangel in english) and are getting harder and harder to come by. As far as I know, I am the only direct importer to UK. They are actually painted in the way of Russian Icons, ie, onto gesso and usually by the same calibre of artist. I did see one featured in Country Living a few years ago (for £350 I should add!!)".

I haven't been able to find much more detail myself online about these boxes specifically but it certainly sounds legitimate when I researched the area and found it was famous for its use of wood. Here are some links:

This is about a book (sadly out of print) all about the architecture of amazing houses built all in wood there

This has pictures from a rural living museum near Arkhangelsk

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