That’s a hella sweet chest, Michael!

“Thank you,” replied the taciturn Mr. Burrey…


…as we placed what is very likely a 17th century chest into the back of his appropriately-named Plymouth Voyager. We ferry back and forth some interesting things from the island of Nantucket. This trip, after a day of re-installing repaired windows at North Church, had a little detour on the way to the docks.


The Pacific Club, home of Sylvia Antiques and more MLB Restoration.

John Sylvia, of Sylvia Antiques, had a grandfather who was a cabinetmaker. And it would seem he knew a 17th century piece when he saw one. Maybe that’s the reason he didn’t cut up or do anything which posterity would regret when this chest came into his possession. I’m not sure how long it stayed up in Mr Sylvia’s Nantucket attic, but grandson John had the good sense to contact Michael Burrey, who in turn contacted Peter Follansbee, and a couple weeks later, this relic from centuries gone by was on the HyLine to Hyannis.


We had a nice chat on the crowed ferry with John (left above). Topics ranged from piping plovers to excavation. From the It’s a Small World Dept, we came to find out that John had once dug out a 60’s vintage pilgrim house foundation several years ago, possibly while Michael and I still worked for the museum. You just never know when there are going to be connections. I think about that now before I flip someone the bird in angry-traffic.

The chest had mostly pit-sawn elements (rather than riven material, more common in New England joinery) which I’m given to understand is one of the hallmarks of an English-made piece. Peter Follansbee, no doubt, will blog about the particulars of this well-traveled furnishing, once he’s had a chance to look at it closely.


Some details:




A few blown tenons, a lot of dust, and the usual wearing…kind of what you’d expect from a 400-year-old attic-dweller living on a windswept island.

blue acorn

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6 thoughts on “That’s a hella sweet chest, Michael!

  1. Jamie Haines says:

    Very cool! What a terrific find!

  2. Alex says:

    Super cool! I want one!

  3. Linda Master says:

    400…years… WOW! Awesome—–

    • Rick says:

      It’ll be interesting to see if Peter can date it to within a few years once he examines it, Linda. It will probably be harder to pinpoint an English-made piece than a New England made one, though, I’m guessing.

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