This iron chest was originally owned by Daniel Parke Custis, Martha Washington's first husband. George and Martha used it as a strong box to keep their valuables and important documents safe. Made for just such a purpose, the chest is constructed entirely out of wrought iron sheets, has false key escutcheons, is fitted for two additional padlocks, and can even be bolted to the floor. At the time of Washington's death, the trusted repository held 50% of his estimated wealth held in stock, cash, jewelry, and precious metal objects.


Rectangular iron chest. Lidded chest made wrought iron sheets reinforced and held together by iron bands hammered into place and secured with rivets. The edges of the slides, flat top lid and bottom are also reinforced with strips of iron. The locking mechanisms include two integral key entry locks, one with a decorative cutwork escutcheon located on the face and another on the lid. The lid is further fitted with an integral lever locking mechanism faced with a crimp-edged lock plate. The chest is additionally secured by two hasps and a single staple on the face; the proper left staple has since broken off. The chest also features two "C" shaped wrought iron handles, installed with two iron staples on either side.







Overall: 11 in. x 20 1/4 in. x 12 3/4 in. (27.94 cm x 51.44 cm x 32.39 cm)

Credit Line

Purchase, 1954

Object Number


Colors (Beta)

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