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What is a Hope Chest?

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As expert antique refinishers, we’re also history buffs and love to know how and by whom antique furniture and other artifacts were used.  A “hope chest” is a familiar term, but what is a hope chest, when were they used, and are they still around today?

Here are some interesting facts about hope chests:

  • The concept of the hope chest originated centuries ago and was brought to America in the 18th century by European immigrants.
  • Traditionally, a hope chest was given to a young woman as a symbol of good luck as she prepared for marriage. The young woman would gradually fill the chest with treasures such as blankets, chinaware, and other items that would be needed for marriage.  Often the woman’s mother or other female relatives would contribute items, but many of the items would have been knitted, crocheted, or otherwise made by the young woman herself.
  • Hope chests were originally made of cedar, a wood that naturally repels insects and fungus, protecting the contents of the chest sometimes for decades. Similar chests are still made of cedar today, as well as other hardwood species such as cherry, oak, and maple.

Today we’re more apt to keep a chest or trunk and keep throws and pillows in it or use it to store seldom used items.  Some families still keep hope chests for more traditional purposes though, to safely store family treasures that they hope to pass down to other family members.

It’s not too early or too late to start a hope chest for your child or even for yourself as a memory chest.  You don’t have to fill it with the silverware and quilts like you might have done in ages past.  But you can still compile items that you think would be useful for someone coming up in the next generation, or even fill one with mementos that you simply want to remember and hang on to.  For example, consider filling a hope chest with photos or photo albums, handmade items, and other family treasures and heirlooms.

If you’d like to have a hope chest or other heirloom refinished, trust it to a highly rated furniture repair and refinishing shop.  Jax Furniture Refinishing & Upholstering is the best furniture refinisher Jacksonville FL homeowners and antique collectors rely on to restore their fine furniture.  Our master craftsman has well over 30 years of experience refinishing and repairing wood furniture of all kinds.  Find out why we’re the trusted refinisher for customers in San Marco, Riverside, Ortega, Fernandina Beach, and Jacksonville Beach, and trust your furniture restoration project to us!