There was a time when a Hope chest was commonly used by young unmarried women, it was a designated place to hold their valuables in preparation for the future.
This was a special chest designed to store the collection of an unmarried woman’s household items such as linen and clothing in anticipation of her future marital status. More than just a collection of items to be shared and to add to the her new household, the chest represented hope, love and dreams.
A Chest of Many Names
This special chest went by several names in various places around the world: the “hope chest” or “cedar chest” was used in the Midwest or south of the United States. In the UK it was referred to as “bottom drawer” and “glory box” in Australia.
A Signal of a New Life Beginning
Women stocked their chest with their true so a coming-of-age right of dowry items with items to start her new life; a stash of clothing, table linens, towels, bed linen, quilts and sometimes dishware. The chest was designed to be portable and to come with the bride after her marriage.
Hope Chest from Italy and the Renaissance
The chest or “Casonne” of Italian Renaissance in this example, was a large showy ornate chest formed part of dynasty marriages in the 15th and 16th century prized displays of wealth.
Re-purposing the Hope Chest for Today
What can you do today with a hope chest? While not a necessity in modern times to create dowries or such collections of things, it is a beautiful decorative storage piece to add to fine homes and can be excellent storage for precious possessions and valued keepsakes.