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October 7, 2015

One of the rarest collectible pieces of
antique furniture is a  'mule chest.'

You're probably asking, "What the heck is a mule chest?"

In the simplest of terms it's the combination of a blanket chest
with a hinged lid on top and a chest of drawers underneath.

Primitive Early American mule chest

Stay with me.  Before the invention of electricity households depended on blankets and quilts for warmth in cold months.  These covers were time-consuming to make and expensive to buy so they were highly prized.  Because closets weren't 'invented' until the 20th Century, the blankets and quilts had to be stored (and preserved) during the warm months.  

In times past most individuals only had a couple of changes of clothes.  Since they didn't need a lot of storage for clothing a mule chest was the perfect solution.  Clothes and shoes were kept in the drawers and the blankets and quilts were stored in the top.

Mid 18th century English mule chest:
I'll bet your next question is, "Why was this
piece of furniture called a mule chest?"

No one really knows.  There are two theories that antique dealers
and furniture historians have tossed around for years:

1) Since the 17th century slippers have been called mules and our
ancestors stored their slippers in one of the lower drawers
2)  A mule is a hybrid mix of horse and the chest is a hybrid piece of furniture





This late 17th Century English mule chest is priced at $2,000.

Not only is this chest in wonderful condition
it still retains its original blue paint.

If you happen to spy one of these rare and elusive pieces give it
some serious consideration.  You might not ever see one again!


  1. I think the explanation of the origin of the name as storage for out of season footwear is excellent. The blanket chest I inherited from my grandmother has no drawers, which I know could be part of a blanket chest. I will pass it along to a granddaughter.

  2. I have never heard the term mule chest before, I thought they were just blanket boxes. You learn something new every day.

  3. Thanks for that interesting post ... I will keep an eye out for one of these now!