Enhance your home with a beautiful Chinese apothecary chest
With their numerous small drawers and unique style, apothecary chests are wonderful pieces of furniture, ideal for providing useful storage space in contemporary homes. Here at Shimu we have a wide range of beautiful chests including medicine chests, apothecary cabinets and herbalist chests. From original antique pieces, through to superb quality newly made items, our collection offers something for all homes and interiors.
The story of apothecary cabinets and chests
Apothecary cabinets and chests have been in use in China for many hundreds of years. They were originally made to store medicines and herbs and would have featured ornate labels to indicate the contents of each drawer. The number of drawers varies according to the size of the chest, ranging from 30 drawers up to 100. Each drawer is usually divided into three sections, with the contents categorised in a clockwise direction.
Chests of drawers used by apothecaries were most often made from elmwood which has been popular with Chinese furniture makers for centuries. By Western definitions elmwood is technically a hardwood; however in China it is classed as a softwood because its porous nature makes it ideal for holding coloured lacquered finishes. In addition, elmwood was also appreciated by Chinese craftsmen as it often has a delightful wave-like pattern in the grain.
Furthermore, antique apothecary chests are constructed without the use of nails and are instead held together using glue and wooden dowels. Despite the lack of nails, Chinese antique furniture made in this way is incredibly strong. This nail-free joinery technique was developed in China to provide greater stability, overcoming challenges presented by the country's climate and the type of wood available. China's climate fluctuates dramatically from season to season, with significant increases and decreases in humidity and temperature. This means that furniture which is in long term, repeated use would be negatively affected by weather conditions, which would cause wooden joints held together by nails to weaken and loosen. As such, by replacing nails with clever joinery techniques, Chinese craftsmen were able to create elegant yet robust pieces of furniture that we can still enjoy today.
You'll also notice that apothecary cabinets tend to have short legs and the reason for this is that Chinese physicians carried out their business at floor level, rather than behind a counter, as was the case in the West.
Unique storage solutions with a touch of Chinese charm
Chinese apothecary cabinets and chests are as equally at home in today's interiors as they were in the medicine shops of the past. Although their small drawers make them unsuitable for storing larger items, they are ideal for stowing away anything from craft supplies or socks and underwear, through to spices and cooking ingredients. Whether you decide to place yours in the living room, kitchen or hallway, choosing a Chinese apothecary cabinet is a wonderful way to add a touch of unique Chinese charm and elegance to your home.
Apothecary chests at Shimu
Here at Shimu we have an ever-changing range of antique and newly made Chinese apothecary chests and herbal cabinets. Our antique items are carefully chosen by us, with each piece selected for its quality and original beauty. We import pieces directly from China and because each piece is unique, our collection varies according to what we have available at the time. If we don't have exactly what youre looking for, please don't hesitate to get in touch and we'll aim to source it for you.
Before our antique furniture is brought to the UK each piece is loving restored by highly skilled and experienced craftsmen. Restoration is carried out with care and consideration for the history of the item; the craftsmen we work with are experts in restoring items to their original beauty without losing any of the original patina or charm.
Alongside our range of antiques we also offer a collection of beautifully made new furniture which includes a selection of apothecary chests and cabinets. In designs which replicate original pieces, our newly made furniture is constructed from solid wood in China using traditional joinery skills and techniques. With designs ranging from ornate lacquered pieces, through to rustic-style cabinets, we're sure we'll have the perfect furniture for your home.
Our wooden cabinets and apothecary chests are available for direct delivery throughout the UK, or if you prefer, why not visit our light and airy showroom in Albion Mills, Greengates, West Yorkshire? If you'd like further information on our products, please contact us by calling 0800 088 6800.
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