The Pennsylvania spice box is a wonderful example of regional furniture development. Originally intended for storing spices— which were so rare thev liad to be kept under lock and key in Colonial days— these miniature cabinets were made and used in many parts of the country. But nowhere did the style evolve or persevere as it did in the Delaware Valley area of southeastern Pennsylvania, particularly Chester County.
Pennsylvania-style spice lxjxes began with William & Mary examples around 1680, evolved throughout the Queen Anne and Chippendale periods, and continued to about 1800, when some boxes exhibited 1 lepplewhite features.
Spice boxes were commonly constructed from local hardwoods and often concealed secret drawers that were accessed in ingenious ways. The spice box shown here is based upon an original from the collection of the Chester County Historical Society in West Chester, Pennsylvania.
Though I strive for accuracy when building period reproductions, I decided to make some changes after inspecting the original box. The door on the original had split in the center because the maker hadn't allowed for wood movement, so I redesigned the door's breadboard ends. (See Fig. 4.) I also changed the access to the secret draw-
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