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I’m in Charleston, S.C., this week to fatten myself up on grits and explore some of the antique shops for campaign furniture examples to study.

First the bad news: Antiques of the Indies, the awesome King Street shop I visited last fall, recently closed. However I found that the owner had taken a booth at Seventeen South Antiques, a shop across the river. And after poking around some other King Street shops, I found some other interesting pieces to study.

The best find of the day was one of the prettiest campaign chests I’ve yet encountered. This circa 1840 chest had fantastic skeletonized hardware and lots of hallmarks of a well-made piece: dust seals between the layers, central muntins on the drawer bottoms and drawer slips.

The great thing about doing research at a store is they (usually) let you take the whole thing apart – as long as you are gentle.

The other fun find of the day were some Anglo-Indian perfume boxes. These little brass-bound boxes have metal chasing in the lid. The insides can be simple or have elaborate metalwork, which sometimes is used to hold in a mirror inside the lid.

I also photographed a mahogany lift-lid chest with some nice corner brasses and a central pull – a common feature. This chest had a till at the end.

OK, enough talk about furniture. There’s a bone marrow bread pudding calling my name.

— Christopher Schwarz

Want to read other stories I’ve written about campaign furniture? You can access all of them here for free.  Or if you want to see and build the campaign chest I made for our July issue, click here to subscribe.

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Showing 18 comments
  • mollmorg

    Glad to see some interest in this neglected style. I have made a couple of these pieces over the years, the originals are quite expensive. I love the simple yet elegant feel to them.

  • Jack Plane

    This image supports an earlier comment I made about brasses on ‘campaign’ furniture being scraped flush after the brasses and (steel) screws were installed (un-clocked). There are visible file marks and the screw slots have clearly been reduced. In fact, the screw on the far right appears to be devoid of any slot whatsoever.

  • Eric R

    Fatten you up ?!
    Man, that’s going to take a LOT of grits !
    Hell, I eat sandwiches as thick as you.

    And I can see trying one of those cool shaving boxes some where down the road.

    Thanks Chris.
    Hope you enjoy your “research trip”…lol…

  • Joel Jacobson

    Grits? Bread pudding?

    If you’re in Charleston, and don’t try the fired green tomatoes – shame on you.

  • esincox

    Bet all those un-timed screws just drove you batty, Chris.

  • gumpbelly

    Would those be the “cheesy grits”?

    I like the small box, not so sure about the perfume part though.

  • Maurice

    Love the shaving box!

  • lclement4

    Bone marrow bread pudding? I’ve definitely lost my appetite. 😉

  • John Cashman

    On small boxes, do the brass fittings substitute for dovetails or other joinery? They seem to be constructed so the brasses hold the box itself together. Or am I just not seeing the actual joinery?

    The chest with the till is interesting. The presence of the till, which is similar to so many early American chests, makes me wonder if one of the primary purposes was to have a lid on the till to flip open, which would in turn keep the lid on the chest from crashing down. Or am I ascribing an unintended purpose?

  • Marlon1

    Keep eatin’ those grits Chris. You need it.

  • J. Pierce

    Hard time telling what I’m seeing – can’t tell if that’s translucency or a line of dust/paint/whatever – is that dust panel (in the fourth shot down on the left hand side) made of fabric?

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