[Detail view, an example of a Hepplewhite inlaid keyhole on a document box via Gary R. Sullivan Antiques Inc.]
[American (Tennessee or Kentucky) Sugar Chest, circa 1800-1825. Cherry; tulip poplar secondary. Gift of the Decorative Arts Trust, a support group of the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.]
There was a time when sugar was kept under lock and key. Not because of calorie counting, but because sugar was so expensive. During the 19th century -- particularly in regions located far from seaports, such as Kentucky and parts of Tennessee -- handsome chests were made specifically to store the tasty yet very costly product.
Shown second from the top is a beautiful early-19th-century, American-made, Hepplewhite-influenced sugar chest with a refined inlaid keyhole, ample compartment for storage, plus additional drawer beneath. The piece belongs to the Memphis Brooks Museum of Art and was a gift from the Decorative Arts Trust. Now in its 30th year, the DAT is comprised of 350 members with a passion for textiles, ceramics, silver, glass, furniture and other decorative works. Currently led by President John J. Tackett, an architect who previously worked at Parish-Hadley in NYC before establishing his own firm, the group also sponsors educational tours and programs, many of which are free to the public with basic museum admission.
[Image via Dylan's Candy Bar.]
I would love to have a chest with graceful tapered legs modeled on the Southern piece in the Brooks collection. If I could have a secret temperature controlled compartment for a stash of Reese's, even better. (I think Julia Reed, a true connoisseur of the world's finest chef-prepared and home-cooked fare, once said that every now and then biting into a Reese's is like entering Nirvana.)
[All cover images via Amazon.]
Books, of course, are always a healthy indulgence. The DAT has a project called Books for Brooks, offering a really nice way to honor an arts-enthusiast aunt, grandparent or friend. In order to maintain and expand the Museum's research library, DAT collects select book donations. A list of desired titles is provided here, and while the volumes certainly don't have to be given in memory or in honor of a specific individual, I think that option is great. Many of the titles on the wishlist are priced in the $50 range -- some are even $30. Bookplates recognizing the honored person are placed in each donated edition.
To learn more about the Brooks's permanent collection, click here.