Styles of Primitive Antique Blanket Chests

Written by tonya yirka
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Styles of Primitive Antique Blanket Chests
(Medioimages/Photodisc/Valueline/Getty Images)

Primitive blanket chests were temporary roughly-hewed furniture that was not meant to last for long periods of time. No two chests were alike, usually had some semblance of a known-furniture-style-of-the-times and many were not even painted. Although each chest was designed individually, many had a few basic types of construction.

Basic Box

The crudest form of the primitive antique blanket chest consisted of a roughly-constructed box with either a free-lid or a lid attached by leather tongs. These boxes were usually made with local woods--often pine--although some had hard woods such as cherry, walnut or hickory.


Six-board chests were constructed using six 20-inch-wide planks from old growth pine boards to form the top, bottom, and sides of the chest. Some examples of chests still in existence are those made in the early 1800s by Pennsylvania Dutch cabinet makers.

Wood and Metal Blanket Chest

Another type of the basic box-with-lid wooden blanket chest added a metal heart lock and primitive folk art etched white into the front panel. This box was made in Wisconsin and originally sported leather handles.

Elaborate Blanket Chest

Later chests featured more elaborate accoutrements. Some had dovetailing with ball feet pegged into the bottom of the chest using square nails. Interiors often had covered storage boxes, sometimes referred to as candle boxes, along either the upper side sections.


Some primitive antique blanket chests had drawers usually underneath the blanket-holding section.

One example was a pine chest with the blanket compartment on top with one drawer running the entire length of the chest underneath. The lid had metal hinges. The drawer had metal pulls and both upper unit and bottom unit had metal locks.

The lift-top blanket chest had two deep drawers, one under the other, at the lower section of the chest.

Another version featured two side-by-side drawers at the bottom of the blanket storage section of the blanket chest. One such unit had a wooden-pinned breadboard end top, hand-forged strap hinges with brass lock and drawer pulls.

Panel Insets

Some rustic primitive blanket chests had wooden panel inserts along the front and sides painted white in contrast to the basic colour. One such chest had a lid and an interior storage box with a lid built into the right upper side of the box.

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