Camphor-Wood Chests

By mwilcox


Generally these carved Chinese chests date from the turn of the 19th century through the first quarter of the 20th Century, brought back by Servicemen or businessmen for the folks back home. Typically they have a harbor scene or landscape on the lid and around the sides, too. The better examples sometimes have inlaid mother-of-pearl, ivory, coral, or jade. Based on the images this chest dates from the 1930's and is based on the Art Deco Style then very popular prior to World War Two.

The aromatic type like this one are of camphor-wood which is a subspecies of teak. Camphor wood is the durable bug resistant timber that comes from the camphor tree. The camphor tree is an evergreen that grows 65 to 98 feet tall and has vertically fissured, light-colored bark. It is considered to be an exotic lumber. The most reliable camphor wood resources are mostly in Australia, though it also grows in such places as China, Taiwan, Indochina and Japan. It's often used in the construction of cases for items that need protection from insects, like our native cedar, Camphor wood is highly resistant and toxic to insects of all types. Values vary considerably for these chests, depending on the quality of the carving and the chest's size, but most sell at auction for less than $500.00.