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I Covetous: Monumental Brass Chest

This is the worst photograph I’ve ever run on styleNorth, please forgive me. But I’m so thoroughly captivated by the beauty and mystery of this gargantuan and richly embellished brass chest that I just have to post about it. The chest is about 4′ tall, nearly as deep and at least 5′ wide; it stands in the window (hence the glare) of a would-be antiques shop at 3045 Dundas Street West in Toronto’s Junction neighbourhood. I say would-be antiques shop because in five years of spending time on this strip I have never, ever seen the place open — mornings, afternoons, weekends, weekdays, never open. Consequently, I have no idea what the chest would cost even if it could be purchased. I also have no clue as to how the cabinet is compartmentalized, if at all, or whether it’s just one big box inside. It appears to have a hinged top with no other doors or drawers.

I did some research and the piece is a damchiya, or Indian hope chest, like the one I found on Craigslist in New Jersey, below, for $700.

My damchiya reminds me of the “sarcophagus” Nathan Thomas used in his contest-winning room on Top Design, Season 2, below (photos by Joe Schmelzer courtesy of Elle Decor). The Dundas West piece would require a massive chunk of real estate, and for no good reason other than the fact that it looks amazing and would give a space so much character. I simply love it and yet even if I could buy it, I probably wouldn’t because the piece would be so utterly impractical. It’s the kind of thing Michael Smith could pull off in a large room able to handle the enormous volume. Alas, I’m not Michael Smith or even Nathan Thomas.

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Saturday, November 6, 2010 by Chris
This post was written by - who has written 849 posts on styleNorth.

6 Comments For This Post

  1. Karen J Says:

    I’d like to hear more about this store that doesn’t open.
    Do the window displays change?

  2. Kym Legge-Murray Says:

    It looks like it might have some pirate’s booty in it!! lol ;0)

  3. rouquinne Says:

    Chris – put a note in the mailbox or stick a post-it on the door with your email address and ask them to get in touch with you.

  4. Lois Says:

    Hello Chris, beautiful piece, pet peeve is stores that don’t open, why pay rent than other to tantalize us…Lois of hunt ‘em down

  5. Jordana @ White Cabana Says:

    Pretty darn cool. I wonder how heavy it is. :) Maybe you should bring a sleeping bag to the store and camp out in front of it until someone decides to open up and sell you the chest! Good luck!

  6. Marea Says:

    The monumental Indian Dowry Chest. Can anyone tell me more about it? I live in Australia and I have managed to purchase an almost identical chest. I have found the marking of the East India Company on the inside of the chest. Can anyone provide any history?

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