In the early days sugar was purchased in either a cone or a loaf, it was not as refined as to-day, and was quite expensive, so it was had , by the more affluent folks, and in the south that was typically the plantation owners,.
Because it was both expensive and a status symbol, it was kept under lock and key, and in the home , usually in the dining room, where guest would be entertained, and again under lock and key, to keep the children and the slaves out of it,, so the vessel it was stored in had to also be worthy of the big house, so it was usually a nice chest, Tupperware wasnt around just yet, 🙂
The chest usually had a drawer to store the “nippers”, which basically looked like a pair of pliers with small ice cream scoops on them, for nipping a piece of the sugar off, and the slide was the work surface, often the chest would have a divider in it, so other valuable commodities could be stored, such as wines and liquors,.
In the north , cellerets were also used for the wines and liquors, and the typical form of, chest on legs was used, so they bear an almost identical resemblance, and I don’t know of any specific distinguishing characteristic’s , that separates the two, other than,cellerets typically didn’t have the drawer or the slide, but that still is not always the case, and many of the cases were more elaborate, and some less formal, the one we do is a copy of one that was in Richmond Va, and identified as a true sugar chest, its use to-day is varied, from being used as a celleret or putting some hanging files in it.
Sugar chest are very sought after piece and when a nice original one is found it brings large numbers at auction, as well as many cellerets, and large numbers mean in the hundreds of thousands, I have two , I made out of crotch walnut, I have a lamp on one, and the other stands alone, it’s a very desirable form, and has always been a big seller for us, just delivered another one 2 weeks ago, out of tiger maple, We have made them out of the tigermaple, walnut, cherry, one butternut, typically its the tiger maple, and cherry, and we prefer to use one board for the chest , as well as the top, the size is usually determined by what width and length we can get the wood in.
The one in the shop now, is 12 1/2 deep , 12 1/2 tall and 22 1/2 wide , all one board as well as the top.
Well here in the USA , come Thursday we celebrate Thanksgiving, and as I understand Canada has a similar Holiday, that came earlier, , not sure if any other countries have such a holiday or not .. but Happy Thanksgiving anyway.. to all.
We will be shutting down early tomorrow, and I will be back at it on Friday.., and plan to spend the holiday , finishing writing my book, on water base finishes. something I have enjoyed doing , and looking forward to completing .. so for me its relaxing .
So everyone be safe, dont over eat, and hope you get some shop time,