The Old Fashioned Hope Chest

I am going to tell you all about being a teenager who put together a Hope Chest! In “the olden days”, a girl would take years to put together a Hope Chest, so that when she married, she would have a lot of the normal things needed to start her home. When I was about 19 years old, with no boyfriend in sight, Granma decided that I needed to start a Hope Chest. I have got to tell you – I had a fantastic time filling the box which was an old “low boy” cupboard owned by Grandad. A low boy was a small wardrobe for men, designed to hold suits and shoes, with drawers for undies, socks etc. and I filled it to the absolute brim over the following few years.

A Hope Chest very much like the one I used
A Hope Chest very much like the one I used

I had nothing else to spend my time, or my money on, as my only social activity at the time was going to church! I would hunt around, mainly in shops in Parramatta, for things that I thought I would like. Some of the items I had in the box by 1977 were:

  • A beautiful stainless steel coffee set, consisting of a tray with handles, a tall coffee pot, and a sugar bowl and milk jug. I still have this as it was one of my favourite pieces, and it sits in the display cupboard in the spare room
  • A couple of sets of towels in pale pink and pale green. Back then pink and green were very cool colours for a bathroom so don’t raise your eyebrow’s! Sadly – these are long gone.

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  • A set of copper based saucepans which were very expensive as I recall. I paid about $600 for the set way back in the mid 70’s, as copper based saucepans were very new technology then. That set lasted me over 30 years though, and was only replaced a few years ago!
  • Two sets of beautiful heavy satin sheets in gold and very dark green – Man!! Were they fantastic to sleep in! Absolute luxury.
  • Another coffee set – but this one was a Royal Albert Country Roses one. It consisted of the coffee pot, little milk jug, and 2 types of sugar bowl – one with a lid and one without – as well as 6 coffee cups and saucers. I got the whole set on two separate layby’s from a jeweller in Guildford (Sydney) and it cost me around $98.00. Over the years I have added many pieces to my country roses set as you know. These days I have a full 6 piece dinner set which takes pride of place in my glass cabinet. One day I will be able to pass this valuable set on.  Each piece is English made. When the Royal Albert factory moved to Asia I stopped collecting, as the colour of the crockery was a different white. Pieces from Asia are not as valuable as the English made dinner ware
  • There were tea towels, washers, table cloths (some of which were beautiful), a water set in copper coloured glass, entertaining dishes – 2 of which I still have. Both dishes, also in copper coloured glass, are used on the odd occasion and sit on the shelf under the dinner set in the kitchen cupboards.
  • An 8 piece, stoneware dinner set in a brown colour, with a thin chocolate brown ring and edged in burnt orange. I’ll have you know – these were very cool colours back then! If you think back carefully, you may just remember them. We had people up one Sunday and I used the entire dinner set. I chose to wash and dry it myself (before we had the dishwasher). After washing and drying the dinner set I stacked the dinner plates, b & b plates and dessert bowls on top of each other, and then lifted them to put them into the cupboard – and dropped the lot!! I did manage to save about a 4 piece setting out of the rubble.
  • A lovely 12 setting stainless steel cutlery set which actually had the same design – in miniature – as the stainless steel coffee set. This cutlery set lasted most of your lives to date, and I only replaced it with the current one about 4-5 years ago.
Table Cloth - Mine was very similar to this !
Table Cloth – Mine was very similar to this !

The cupboard was filled to overflowing with boxes of all different sizes, parcels in brown paper and moth balls dotted here and there. On the odd occasion, when I wanted to fit something else in, I would have to take everything out, go through it (just for fun) and repack it so that I could eke out a small place to add my latest purchase.

I used the contents of my hope chest long before I was married, as that’s just the way life turned out. When I lost my job in Sydney I moved into a flat with Aunty Kellie in Belmore Street, just up from the Family Hotel, and we used some of the things from my collection in our flat. I then moved into a house in Carthage Street and filled it with the rest of the gear from my hope chest. Not long after that, your dad moved in with me!

Do you know – I think girls should still put together a “Hope Chest”, just because it was so much fun. When I had no other monetary commitments beside paying board and my car payments, I could spend money on getting special things that just aren’t affordable later on.

Just so you know – Aunty Nony and Aunty Gwen both had them I think, but I think Aunties Kim and Kel only had the odd thing put together by the time they moved out of home.


Picture Sources:




Hope Chest:

Tea Towels:


Dinner Set




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