PRESENTING a GORGEOUS 19C English Naval Captain’s Sea Chest.

Made in Britain, probably England, circa 1851-55.

Early Victorian Era.

Made of golden oak.

Nice size and beautiful simplicity.

Armorial brass plaque/insert on top with no engraving and brass keyhole escutcheon on front.

Original brass handles on both sides

Beautiful dovetailing on front and sides.

Original lock marked for “Hobbs & Co London” .. “Lever” …. “Machine Made”.

The lock helps us date the piece as ‘Hobbs & Co’ only traded under that name in London between 1851 – 1855.

This chest would have been owned by a ship’s Captain (as opposed to an ordinary sailor) for holding personal belongings whilst on voyages. The quality of the piece and the brass hardware also indicate an owner of ‘status’.

Alfred Charles Hobbs (1812 – 1891) was born in Boston in America. He became a salesman for one of America’s foremost lock manufacturers – Jones & Newell in 1840. He travelled to London for the 1851 Great Exhibition and caused a storm when he managed to pick both a Bramah lock and also the famous Chubb detector lock.

As a result of his newfound fame, he formed a company in London which was formally registered as Hobbs & Co. The firm went through various incarnations becoming Hobbs, Ashley & Co in 1855 and then Hobbs, Ashley & Fortescue and finally Hobbs, Hart & Co in 1860 based in Cheapside in London. They were very successful using advanced machine production methods.

In 1860 Alfred returned to America after the death of his partner Ashley. He had never intended to stay in Britain, so was happy to sell the thriving firm on to John Mathias Hart, whilst maintaining a beneficial interest in it. He returned to England in 1872 to celebrate their 21st anniversary.

Alfred Hobbs died in 1891.

19C English Naval Captain’s Sea Chest.

Provenance: From a Quality Dallas Private Collection (originally from Canada)

Condition: Fair to good. Evidence of some repaired cracks on the top. Missing lock catch on underside of top and no key. Back hinges have been moved. The other condition issues are natural wear and tear from age and use. Nice patina.

Dimensions: 36″ Wide, 23.5″ Deep and 14″ Tall.


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