In 15th and 16th century Europe, the works of blacksmiths from southern Germany were known far and wide. Demand for products by these skilled metal workers spread as far as the Scandinavian countries. Perhaps one of the most intriguing items that was produced by these workshops was the iron money chest. These chests usually featured complicated locking mechanisms (visible on the underside of the lid) with a false keyplate on the front facade to deter would-be thieves. In the 17th century, many craftsmen began to cover the internal workings with a painted cover, just like the pierced red painted plate on our chest.
The faux lock on the front facing is surrounded by a large sinuous, open motif that is flanked by two latches that fit over eyelets attached to the lid. On the outside of each latch is a figure eight element, possibly an ouroboros, which is a snake eating its own tail. There are two more of these figures on each side, next to a large handle. All sides have a simple latticework pattern where the intersections are secured by large nailheads. The actual lock is found in the center of the lid, amongst the latticework and a foliate-like keyplate.
Our chest from southern Germany was produced circa 1650. At some point, a previous owner had a wooden stand crafted for displaying purposes. The stand itself is over 100 years old and has been painted black more recently. There is an internal arm that can be raised to keep the lid open, making it possible for the interior of this fascinating chest to be displayed. The original key is included and operates the locking mechanism.
CONDITION: Good antique condition with wear commensurate to age and use, including light oxidation and dotted patina to the chest. The chest was repainted at some point, but minor paint losses are present, especially to the inside. The wood stand, which is not original, but still antique, has been painted with a high sheen black paint, covering traces of old wood worm.
H (including stand) - 29, W - 28 1/2, D - 19
Circa 1650 Sheet Iron Money Chest from Southern Germany with Wooden Stand
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