A 15th century oak Ark coffer
Lot 370
A rare 15th century small oak clamp-front ark
Sold for £4,375 (US$ 7,346) inc. premium
Auction Details
The Oak Interior Chester
18 Oct 2012 11:00 BST

Auction 20169
Lot Details
A rare 15th century small oak clamp-front ark
Of riven boarded construction, the canted dome lid made from three overlapping boards, wedged and grooved into side supports, the rear of which is cut-into the back stile and peg-hinged, the horizontal side boards are clamped between the vertical stile supports which are shaped at the ends, 75.5cm wide x 40cm deep x 49cm high, (29.5" wide x 15.5" deep x 19" high)


  • Provenance: The Peter Gwynn Collection. Formerly at Dame Annis Barn, Epsom, Surrey. R.T.Gwynn catalogue reference F67. Referred to as an Oak Chest - Ark-shaped, English 14th or early 15th century. The 'pin-hinges' are noted as originating in the 13th century and rarely found after 1500.

    An ark was typically used for the storage of grain (such as corn) meal and flour.
    Traditionally it is thought the lids were not fixed to the base, as once removed and turned over they could act as a trough for kneading dough or a receptacle to be carried. This example appears always to have been hinged, the rear of the lid sides have never been cut to rest over the back stiles. Old locking mechanism marks to the front board are also present.

    A similar example, illustrated Cescinsky and Gribble, Early English Furniture and Woodwork, Vol. II, p.11, p.9, in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection, (No.W.21-1913), dated 1400-1500; presently on loan.

    Ralph Edwards, Dictionary of English Furniture, Vol.2, p.29, fig.3 illustrates a further pivotal lid example.

    15th century clamp front chests were of particular interest to Mr Gwynn, two further ark-shaped examples sold Sotheby's The Peter Gwynn Collection, 27 November 2001, lot 9 and lot 22. This particular example was retained by the family and not included in the 2001 sale.
  1. David Houlston
    Specialist - Furniture
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