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Authentic Sea Chests and Stowage Chests of the 19th Century Nautical and Naval

Large 19th Century Stowage Chest used on the Weather Decks Aboard a US Navy Man-of-War

While similar, typical "Sea Chests" were mstly smaller than the typical "Stowage Chest", but were a bit larger than a ditty box. And like a ditty box the sea chest was usually owned or issued to an individual to store personal belongings and food stuffs, change of clothes, items from home and things picked up in far flung ports. These sea chests were safely stored below decks where the sailor kept his bunk, sometimes even in a stateroom or cabin. A sea chest was in many cases well made (or at least better constructed than a general purpose Stowage Chest), in many cases personalized, many had nautical designs or scenes etched into them, certainly the sailors name or initials engraved somewhere on it.

Now the "Stowage Chest" though similar in style was normally a bit larger than a Sea Chest and was used to store ships gear such as mess gear, rope, tools, pulleys and blocks, weapons such as cutlasses, boarding axes and firearms. The exterior of stowage chests were typically painted a dark green, sometimes red, and haze gray with many having multiple layers from years of being used. Not many stowage chests have survived their use; especially ones used above decks or on the weather decks where they were exposed to all the rigors and elements of sea service, ie; wind, rain, ice, sun, sea spray, salt water and certainly rough use. The insides of most chests were not painted and the pine wood left bare. All had a small compartment situated up near the top and to one side to store small items

NOTE: In the photo to the left are a bunch of sailors and two stowage chests with a sailor sitting on one in the right foreground and another one in the right background. Photo taken circa 1890s aboard either a newly commissioned Armored Cruiser or Battleship.

The construction and material used by both sea chests and stowages chests had much in common, as they needed to be inexpensive yet sturdy to withstand the rigors of their environment. Typically all were about 40" in length, 20" in width and 20" high and made of pine wood except for some of the more expensive personal sea chests. Early 19th century chests used "6-plank" construction meaning all four sides, top lid and bottom were all made from single planks of wood, with dovetailed joints securing the four sides. Single plank construction was much sturdier and ultimately lighter than using multiple planks for a single side. The lids of virtually all sea chests and stowage chests had an extended front and sides with the left and right sides each having a 2" skirt. The extended lids and skirts helped prevent water and the elements from getting inside the chest.

All sea chests and stowage chests had wooden cleats on both ends to hold "rope beckets" which were used to lift and haul the chests around the deck. All chests also had flat bottoms, some had skirts and some did not, to easily move them on deck. Many of these chests had the classic slanted sides where the bottom of the chest was wider than the top to help keep a low center of gravity on a pitching and rolling deck.

Finding real authentic sea chests and certainly stowage chests are next to impossible as they have been lost to time and use, especially the stowage chests which were used on weather decks!

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Large Late 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used in a Stateroom or Cabin Large Late 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used in a Stateroom or Cabin

This stowage trunk was certainly not used on the weather decks but most likely in an Officers or Captains stateroom or cabin. Note the fine craftsmanship of the dovetailed joints, lid overhangs both front and side planks with side skirt clearly seen, classic wooden side cleat where a rope becket would go thru and be mounted, no exterior paint however the top of the lid shows that it had seen a fair amount of use. Also note the slight inward angle or leaning of the front and rear planks to lower the center of gravity preventing the chest to easily tip over in rough seas.



Large Late 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used in a Stateroom or Cabin Large Late 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used in a Stateroom or Cabin

Note the closeup of the wooden cleat and the interior of the chest where some lid repairs were performed to strengthen the integrity of the lid. Note also the inside rear hinges and side skirts and that the small compartment is missing.



Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks

The below photos show a rare and complete weather deck "Stowage Chest" from the exterior dark green paint, unpainted interior, wooden cleats, lid overhang and side skirts, bottom edge kick skirt, long interior hinges, small compartment in place with cover, and the the beaten up weathered and used look. This particular stowage chest does not have the sides slanting inwards.

Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks

Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks

Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks

Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks

Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks Large 6-Plank Mid 19th Century Sea Chest or Stowage Chest used on Weather Decks

 
Antique Sea Chest and Stowage Chest
The Rarest of All! Detailed photos and technical characteristics of these authentic mid to late 19th century naval and nautical sea chests and stowage chests some of which may be for sale.
 
sea chests and stowage chests
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Used in Officers Staterooms and Captains Cabins as well as for general storage aboard all decks of the ship. Typically 40"x20"x20" made of 6-plank pine wood with wooden cleats and rope beckets. These sea chests here at The Pirates Lair or the real deal, no reproductions!
 
Prices Vary if Available
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Click HERE to Review how this and other of our Pirate Chests, Treasure Chests, and Antique Chests were Restored, our Antique Restoration Process, and How To Restore Antique Nautical Furniture!

 
OPTIONAL - Trunk Wood Engraving Examples and Prices
Custom Designed, Handcrafted, and Hand Lettered in Caligraphy on your Antique Chest
 
Personalized Burnt Wood Engravings
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Personalize Your 100+ Year Old Antique Trunk in Perpetuity!
 
Antique Trunks as a Shadow Box and Storage Chest!
Customer Photographic Examples of our Antique Trunks Being used as a Military or Naval Retirement Shadow Box and Storage Chest!!
 
Military or Naval Retirement Ceremony Shadow Box
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Why just get a shadow box or a newly made trunk with no history! One of our 100+ Year Old Nautical Antique Trunks can be used for both a Shadow Box and Storage Chest for your Uniforms, Photograph Albums, and Memorabilia!


 
Rare 1880 to Early 1890's Photograph of Antique Trunk Factory and Workers Using Albumen Silver Print Method, Mounted to a Period Board Which Dates The Photo
Note the Flatop and Two Monitor or Waterfall Trunks, Each Being Individually Unique at the Very Time of Production.
 
antique trunk factory workers
Click Photo For Larger View and More Historical Information!
 
The Pirate's Lair Exclusive!
We all romanticize about the mystique of these antique trunks. The possible owners and travels that each steamer trunk has taken, along with the high level of detailed craftsmanship in the original production of each and every steamer trunk with that individualized character giving both intrinsic and non-intrinsic value.
 
However the truth of the matter is that the majority of these trunks were made towards the middle to end of the 19th century just at the dawning of the industrial revolution here in America when there were no child labor laws or protections. This rare photo clearly illustrates at least 3 generations of owners and workers, ages appearing to range from pre-teen/adolescent, teens/early adult, through middle to old age!
It was a common practice that loyal and productive craftsmen would be allowed to bring their children to work with them to learn a craft, so many of the children in this photograph were more than likely sons of the men shown.
 
Note the adolescent factory workers on top row! Note that there are no women in the photo! This is due to the fact that at that time "proper" women did not work outside of the home, certainly not in a factory. Everybody appears to look pretty stern, having on their arms crossed and "work" faces put on.
Copy of Photo On Request With Every Trunk Purchase


The Pirate's Lair
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Stafford, Virginia 22554
Phone: 540-659-6209
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Music Credits: Donald Where's Your Trousers/Drunken Sailor medley by The Bards


The following Text is soley for the consumption of Spiders, Bots and other Dark Denizens of the Internet: All nautical sea chests, or a domed sea chest also known as a camel back.
Antique Chest for sale

Fully Restored Antique Trunks For Sale and Sea Chest with a Navy or Naval Shadow Box or Navy Shadowbox, or a Military Shadowbox Retirement Gift idea make the perfect unique military or navy retirement gift or naval promotion gift for enlisted or officer.



Store your uniforms, flags, other naval militaria and mementos or used in a family heirloom treasures.
Beautiful Nautical Dome Top or Humpback Antique Treasure chest for a retirement ceremony or military promotion gift.