The Cedar ‘Hope Chest’


I bought this Cavalier brand cedar ‘Hope Chest’ at Denio’s flea market for $100USD. It’s built of 3/4″ cedar planks with thin decorative veneer glued to the exterior. It’s large at 46″ x 19″ x 22 1/2″ (116.84cm x 48.26cm x 57.15cm), yet the special hinges allow it to sit within an inch of the wall (2.5cm).

The company claimed they were ‘mothproof’, that the metal rim on the lid prevented entry to moth larvae and that the cedar wood is warranted to be repellent to moths.

Attached to the rounded lid is a detachable full length tray lined with blue felt which rises with the lid and rotates to stay level. This tray might have been used to store the girl’s silver cutlery or small items which could be hard to find in the chest’s depths.



From what I can determine the Cavalier Corporation of Chattanooga, Tennessee, USA, manufactured cedar chests and other furniture from the mid 1920s through perhaps the 1960s, under various ownerships through the years.

The earlier chests were done in the elaborate carved Jacobean style with long turned legs, but my chest was constructed in the newer Style Moderne or “Waterfall” genre with simple, short legs and only veneer for decoration.


Because this chest has both the 1940s style brass cavalier badge on the tray (above): and the 1950s style burned in logo (below) on the lid, I think my chest is transitional from about 1950.


The firm changed codes, model numbers and serial numbers almost at random so the cryptic labels and markings don’t always tell much; but I think this paper label from the bottom supports my 1950 build date. Pattern 300; Run No. 5015-15th chest made in 1950?


Enhanced for Readability


Though what this adjacent scrawl means I won’t guess.

I found the guarantee and sales brochure marked with what looks like a price of $54.37. It was inside the chest which the sheet warns not to do as the ink can blur from the cedar vapors-though it still looks perfect.


The other side touts the personal engraving of a brass-plated dedication plaque-offered in lieu of $250 moth-proofing insurance. The buyers of my chest got engraving eerily close to the sample below.


Here’s the dedication plaque below.


About the only change I made other than waxing and cleaning-I removed the metal buttons on the feet bottoms and replaced them with felt sliders.


The idea of the Hope Chest or Glory Box was to provide a trousseau or dowry for a girl when she was 12-14 years old. It could contain her wedding dress, donated linens, blankets, silverware and anything else needed to set up a new household. She was expected to add to it with hand-made craft items until her wedding day.


Next post we’ll look at the Hope Chest my father built for my daughter in the 1980s [Ed.-Late 1990s]; and at my sister’s from the [Ed.-Early] 1960s.



Best link to Cavalier cedar chest info:


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One thought on “The Cedar ‘Hope Chest’

  1. Pingback: More Cedar Hope Chests: Child Death Warning! |

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