Beautiful and very rare inlaid Masonic furniture piece, consisting of a classic carved English oak blanket chest with typical designs and construction of the period, with additional large inlays in a lighter wood of a six pointed star of David in each of the front panels.
In this case, the symbol is unlikely to be a reference to Judaism (as publicly declaring your Jewishness in England would not have been a wise course in the early 1700s) but instead, is a almost certainly reference to one of the diverse symbols adapted into the Freemason lexicon. Six pointed stars of David were originally a Christian reference, and as such were one of the many symbols co-opted by Freemasons in order to visually remind members of their commitments. They are visible in reference materials and decorative objects of that time, but may have dropped out of favor as the Star of David became more associated with Judaica.
That the symbols so dominate the piece, and that it is a functional item, leads one to speculate that it may well have been used in one of the lodge houses to store vestments or ritual objects or served as a makeshift altar. See our 18th and 19th lodge furnishings Pinterest board for examples. (Listed under links for this shop) Although, this may have been for personal use, as high ranking Masons of the time were fond of subtly announcing their Masonic association through decorative items, they tended to be somewhat more refined and less practical; perhaps a glossy finely detailed marquetry desk with masonic references, so as to imply wealth as well as connections to those that understood the implications.
The chest is constructed with mortise and tenon joinery, and has the original hand forged iron lock and clasp. The iron strap hinges, one of which has a partial loss, are attached with handmade square nails,as is the lock. There is evidence of a former candle compartment that has since been removed, and there are two splits, perhaps from this removal, one in the front and another, rather charmingly repaired, on on side. Neither effect the solidity of the piece. The surface has the rich and desirable patina and minor dings of 300 years of use.
The full history of this object may never be known, but the clear Masonic association adds interest and rarity to an object that already claims beautifully patina, inlay, and period carving. For a Masonic collector, an 18th English Masonic blanket chest is an extraordinarily rare, quite possibly unique find - sure to be the pride of any collection.
Measures 49" wide, 16 1/2" deep, 29" high.
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