Document Box (Former Title)
Box (Primary Title)

Unknown (Artist)

Decorative Arts
oak, pine
United States,New England
Overall: 8 1/8 × 26 × 15 in. (20.64 × 66.04 × 38.1 cm)

During the 17th century, boxes like this one were sometimes placed on top of chests to store small valuables and important documents such as deeds and letters, as well as Bibles. In the absence of official record keepers, Bibles not only served religious and literary purposes but were used as registers of significant family events like births, marriages, and deaths.

Boxes were often included in a young woman’s dowry and, occasionally, inscribed with important dates or initials. Retaining traces of its original reddish brown paint, this box is inscribed with the letters H and S on either side of its keyhole. The carved and incised decoration – tulips and leaves with etched scrolls – was common to objects produced in the Connecticut River Valley (the western part of Connecticut and Massachusetts). Traditional symbols of love, tulips also signified wealth and prosperity.

Mary Morton Parsons Fund for American Decorative Arts
Image released via Creative Commons CC-BY-NC

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