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Stock No. 54


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French 'Les Cofres De Marins' - Click for the bigger picture

French 'Les Cofres De Marins'

Literally translate a 'Mariners Chest' and this one is an absolute time capsule. Whilst purchased here in Somerset, South West England it clearly originates from over the channel. Carved into the domed lid is the name of the original owner 'Duval Jean '. In addition on the front of the chest a further carving names an 'L.Duval'; it is quite possible this was a family piece handed down perhaps from Father to son? The owners name is followed by the name 'Plevenon'. We speculated this was the name of his ship but thanks to assistance of a French visitor here this week we now understand this is the village of Plévenon, situated in the Côtes-d'Armor department of Brittany, North Western France thus confirming for sure the boxes' French origins. How it came to be rehomed in England we will never know but it is always fun to speculate and perhaps it was captured from the French in one of the many wars we have had with our neighbours over the years gone by!

The chest is of a very significant size, measuring 56" x 22" x 20" (142 cm x 56 cm x 51 cm) so rather larger than the normal seaman's boxes that occasionally turn up. This is again pure speculation on our part but we feel it could have belonged to an Officer of even the ship's Captain. It features the sloping sides typical of the design with original rope 'becket' handles fixed to either end. This is a heavy piece of furniture and it would certainly have needed them and more so when full of the owners worldly processions whilst at sea! We describe it as a time capsule as unlike many it has never been stripped and still carries the original rust red paint which with the timber below showing through gives the classic 'shabby chic' look so popular today. The original lock is fitted but the key is long gone. In addition heavy iron strap hinges are bolted within the domed lid. The timber shows wear and tear commensurate with use at sea but overall it is in remarkably sound condition ; at a guess we would date it to the 19th century. If any current residents of Plévenon should spot this listing who might have further information on the Duval family we would love to hear from them and we will then add any provenance associated with this piece to our description. Better still if any relations of the Duval's are still about it would be lovely to think this piece of history could be repatriated with the family!

This time capsule of French Marine history really deserves to be displayed in a specialist museum, but would be equally functional in an appropriate private collection. We have owned this personally for the last 17 years but space is now required for a new display so the time has come to find new custodians for it. As with all our kit if you have interest drop us an e mail to request more detailed pictures. This is certainly a one off and unlikely to be repeated. In view of its size and weight we would prefer for the buyer to arrange collection, but it is possible we can arrange delivery by separate negotiation.

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