Traditional street markets in India are great places to wander around and take in the atmosphere of street life as people rush around buying everyday household goods, food, fragrant spices, incense, lotus blossom, jewellery and saris. If you look closely you will often see established merchants with their traditional old merchant's chests or boxes. They will usually sit crossed-legged behind their chest which will often be locked.
Old Blue Merchant's Chest
Many merchant's still use traditional antique merchant chests and boxes
to store money, record books and receipt books, personal documents and letters. They are a cross between cash box, till and personal organiser. They usually look quite plain from the outside, but can have decorative brass edging and corners and motifs or hand painting on the front and top panels. On the inside, they will usually have multiple compartments, some with lids for storing their possessions, shelves and racks in their lids. and many have secret and hidden compartments! Fine examples made from teak will have up to 20 different compartments with hand-carved lids and handles.
An example of a fine teak chest with multiple compartments.
They are usually made from hardwoods such as teak, rosewood or mango wood, but can be found made from iron or even leather. Many would have been older stationery chests and boxes used for storing old-styled pens, bottles of ink, paper and envelopes. Essentially they are compact desks. The top is used to writing invoices and making notes and the inside for storage. The padlock keeps their contents safe.
Scaramanga stock over 150 different old and antique wooden boxes, chests and trunks
Antique stationery and merchant chests
will all vary in size, style and colour and are usually between 40 - 100 years old. Boxes from the different parts of India will be made differently incorporating local decorative styles and use local materials and woods. Today, these vintage boxes make great memory boxes, wedding chests and keepsakes boxes for all those precious memories and events in peoples' lives.
A 2-drawer teak chest used by merchants
Our favourite old market in India is Sadar Market in Jodhpur. Those wanting a real adventure should try Sadar Market, New Delhi or the those in Old Delhi.
Scaramanga spend many hours discovering authentic vintage and antique chests, boxes and trunks as well as antoque and vntage furniture and interiors. Each is handpicked are carefully restored by expert craftsmen.
The interior of a blue merchant's chest
Scaramanga restore old wooden chests and boxes
Old stationery box
Most merchant's chests, will have a hasp and staple so fitting a brass padock mkes and great addition.
Old store in Sadar Market Jodhpur India
An old merchant's chest can be used as a memory box