This oak and iron stollentruhe was made well over 400 years ago in Westphalia, Germany, circa 1550. Westphalia is a region in western Germany that was part of the Holy Roman Empire during the time this chest was constructed (Late Middle Ages). The area is well known for the stollentruhes that were produced during the 15th & 16th centuries.
Stollentruhe comes from the old High German word, stollo, meaning “to prop up”, and truhe, meaning “chest”. Notice the large platform feet that elevate the chest. The platforms allowed the chest to sit high off the ground, which would protect its contents from damp, dirty floors. With chests of this age, it is not uncommon to find examples that have had the bottom of the legs trimmed to remove rotted wood. With our chest, you can see the floral rosette at the bottom of the front legs appears unfinished, indicating that at one point in time, the platform legs were probably trimmed.
Long iron straps with pierced lozenge (or diamond) tips wrap around all sides of the chest, except for the underside. In total, there are 18 straps of differentiating sizes and directional orientation. The three vertical straps on the back are hinged and continue up to the top, giving support to the heavy lid. The edges of the lid have been covered by a flat iron rim. All the ironwork has been fastened to the oak via round studs, providing not only decoration, but also bracing to the chest’s structure.
Arguably, the front side features the most impressive ornamentation. Two vertical straps flank a large medallion that consist of a series of radiating lozenges. In the center of the medallion, you can still see the fitting plate for the long-lost hasp lock that would have attached to the top of the lid. The floral rosettes highlight the platform legs as a carved recessed channel mirrors the outer edge of the chest.
The interior of the chest contains a well-placed lidded till on the left side near the top. This side compartment allowed for separate storage, eliminating the need to remove all the chest’s contents to access small items that would normally fall to the bottom. The bottoms of the trunk and the till have both been recently lined with grey fabric.
Oak and iron are both very heavy elements and the fact that there are no side carrying handles indicate that our 16th century stollentruhe is designed to be a static piece of furniture. It can be placed at the foot of a bed and used for linen/blanket storage or used as decorative and robust hallway piece. Examples of similar trunks can be seen in several museums in Germany and England, including one at the V&A in London.
CONDITION: Wear commensurate to age and use with missing iron elements and minor losses to wood. The key and hasp are missing. Age separations with minor repairs. The till is 11 inches above the trunk bottom. Till dimensions: H – 4 ½, W – 21, D – 4