Saturday, 21 April 2012

Medieval chests from the Malmohus in Sweden

The Malmohus in Malmo, Sweden is a castle/citadel started in 1434, but largely dating from the 16th century. In the castle is an exhibition of the history of the town, including large amounts of medieval shoes and other finds. But also two medieval chests are displayed in the castle.

 The Malmohus entrance.

Both chests are of the hutch type and connected with large bands of iron. They look very pleasing to the eye, but if examined more closely they have some interesting peculiarities.

This chest is found in the main hall and has some carving at the feet. A closer look reveals that this carving is incomplete. The pattern continues and should have been round. In other words, this chest had much larger feet, and would be standing higher.

The leg decoration is sawn off.

The same chest with leg extensions by Photoshop.

Another interesting point is the elaborately decorated lock of the chest. The lower parts of the lockplate and hinge are painted red. Or not? Fred Roe mentioned in his book "Old Oak Furniture" (1905) that between the iron and the oak, traces of red wool or cloth are often found. Presumably this is to protect the oak from blackening by contact with the iron. I have used wool beteen the hinges and plates of my medieval tool chest as well, and also one of the chest in the MAK in Cologne, Germany has red velvet behind the open ironwork (see previous post). However, zooming into the photo of the lock provides a different answer. There is a separate layer behind the iron of the lock, but the rusty edges and smooth structure show this is actually a red painted sheet of metal.

The red colour gives a beautiful contrast with the grey ironwork of the lock.

 The red is a separate layer behind the iron, but not cloth.


The second chest, located in the Kings Bedchamber shows some restorations on the left feet. This chest is made in the 14th century and is said to comes from the St. Peters Church. The interior of the chest is divided into two parts, as is the lid. Curiously, the lockplate is in the middle of the chest. This makes it very impractical to close both lids with the same lock. No evidence is found for other locks, normally the case with chests with double lids. This makes it very likely that the separation of the lid into two is not original and has been made later.

The two lids also have different hinges, but prints of other - disappeared - hinges can be found on the wood of the lids. 

Unfortunately I did not measure the chests or made notes about the exact dates of the chests. Perhaps someone can provide these missing data to me?

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