How it all Began… From an inspirational trip to a North-West Indian market in 1998, to the creation of our first leather satchel in 2006, the realisation and conception of Scaramanga (born from... READ MORE
Indian Summer Interiors Indian Summer Interiors bring the colours of that special time of year in August when the sun shines brightly to enhance the natural colours outside. On these bright sunny days,... READ MORE
Back in the ‘good-old’ days…after the Industrial Revolution, new technologies, new materials and seemingly endless energy sources made it more profitable to create brand new products from scratch rather than repair and reuse... READ MORE
The sun is shining, the flowers are blooming, and the evenings are wonderfully light – it must be British summertime! Here at Scaramanga, we love our vintage and retro homewares, but they don’t... READ MORE
Scaramanga Wedding Favours
Wedding season is among us and we want to give you some top tips on how to choose wedding favours that your guests will enjoy for years to come. You have probably already made the big decisions and it’s time to put the small details in place. It’s important to find a personal and unique favour to thank your guests. From mini journals to vintage padlocks, we have a range of items that will add a personal touch to each table.
Padlocks are a great keepsake with endless meaning. Our small padlocks are a great collectable item that represents love perfectly, It will also add a touch of vintage style to each table. You can encourage your guests to write their initials on the padlock and lock it on to a meaningful place like a famous bridge near by. Guests can use their wedding favours padlock as an ornament which will remind them of your beautiful wedding every time they see it.
Personalised Luggage tags
The Leather luggage tags are a great wedding favour that guests can take with them wherever they go. You also have the option to personalise each tag to make it unique for each guest. You can personalise the date of your wedding or your quests name. This will make your guest feel loved as well as make it easier for them to find their bag in the airport on the way home. Our luggage tags are made from our favourite hunter leather to give you that popular distressed look. This will mean you can have a touch of scaramanga at your wedding.
If you wanted to make wedding favours even more unique, our mini journals would make the perfect choice! Mini journals are a great gift for the women attending your wedding. They can write memories throughout the wedding so they will never forget about your lovely wedding! The mini leather journals are perfect for keeping in your handbag for when you need to take quick notes at work or on the way to the shops. Your guests will most definitely thank you for this! We have a range of sari and leather journals that you can choose from.
Love heart keyring
The leather love heart keyring is very fitting for wedding favours. The love heart keyring is a touching gift that your guests can carry with them on their keys. Furthermore, our love heart keyring is made from buffalo leather, giving you that lovely distressed look. You can also personalise this gift with silver or blind embossing to make it even more personal. Similar to the luggage tags, you can get the keyring personalised with a date or your guests initials.
A customer recently ordered passport holders for their wedding favours and we think this is a great idea. In addition, our passport holders are a perfect leather gift that your guests can show off on the way home. Furthermore, if you are a couple that loves to travel, the leather passport holders are a great way to represent this. It is this time of year that everyone is planning their summer holidays. It can be very thoughtful to gift your loved ones to a luxury holder.
Wedding favours are a lovely touch to thank your guests for being part of your special day. We have a wide range of small accessories that will fit your wedding perfectly as well as mean a lot to your guests.
Your garden will be the talk of the town this year if you shop from our unique range of garden furniture. Vibrant and playful, this collection of outdoor furniture can’t be matched. From outdoor tables and chairs to fire pits and vintage cool boxes, you’re guaranteed affordable outdoor furniture that is completely one of a kind. We’ve sourced the globe so you have a practical, affordable and stylish collection of vintage furniture to choose from.
Garden Tables and Chairs
The foundation of all garden furniture is, of course, the garden tables and chairs. That’s why our selection of tables and chairs is unlike anyone else’s. We have wooden folding chairs, folding tables and metal tables and chairs as well as table and chair sets. You’ll get that popular shabby chic rustic look with vintage red folding chairs, with the bonus of them easily folding up and not taking up too much space for storage. A choice of red or cream awaits, but we’re a bit biased towards the red. That pop of colour is unforgettable! Oh and most importantly, they’re sturdy, so you’ll not have to worry about your guests on wobbly chairs!
To accompany the folding chairs, you’ll also see a collection of folding tables. These beauties were used in outdoor weddings in India and now can be your feature piece for your next garden party. They are made of teak and steel, so they’re obviously very durable and will last for years to come. And again, just like the chairs, we love the fact that they can fold up. You’ll get to choose from either red or blue folding tables when you shop at Scaramangashop today.
In addition to our wooden tables and chairs, we have this metal vintage table and bench set. This makes a real statement indoors as well as outdoors. From the iconic vintage teal colour to the rustic metal frame, you’ll enjoy every aspect of this outdoor table and bench. Your guests will immediately feel the positive vibes from this table, it just exudes fun and vibrancy!
Outdoor Fire Pits
There’s nothing better than sitting around a fire with close friends and family, nothing. Our outdoor fire pits will set the mood and add an element of cosiness to your garden party. And like all our vintage furniture, these Kadai fire pits are completely unique. They are repurposed kadai bowls sourced from India. Kadai bowls would be used in big Indian kitchens for cooking large meals. We’ve forged the metal legs and voila, a completely one of a kind fire pit with charm, character and a bit of history.
From vintage cool boxes to Moroccan lanterns, we have outdoor decor that will bring all the finishing touches to your garden party this year. Our popular cool boxes sell pretty quickly as they are a real iconic garden party feature. They are as practical as they are cool! Whether your theme is retro or not, a cool box will be the talking point of your party.
What better way to complement a coolbox than on old-school soda crate. We have a delightful range of soda crates that include 7up, Coca-Cola, Pepsi crates, Thumbs Up and Citra. Old wooden crates like these are extremely versatile. They can use them to hold food or drinks in a stylish way, but they can also hold flowers, toys or cutlery. Or use them as an iconic centrepiece, we’re sure they’ll be a real feature piece!
Glasses are a dime a dozen, you can get them just about anywhere. So what makes our drinking glasses so unique? Believe it or not, these are chai glasses from India. Chai is a traditional drink, served just about everywhere in India, it’s meant to be sipped from these lovely little glasses. But you don’t have to serve just chai from these glasses, they’ll hold any liquid at your garden party. Including wine, you are serving wine at your party, right?
Lastly, you can choose from a variety of colours and sizes in our lantern collection. These look absolutely stunning on tabletops or you can simply hang them from a tree or fence for some create mood lighting.
We hope you find something amongst our vintage furniture collection that you can use for your next garden party. Have a look on Pinterest if you’re in need of garden party ideas. Make your next party memorable with a new vibrant piece.
Representing originality is important to us at Scaramanga. We work hard to design bags that allows you to show off your unique style. Whether you are a keen adventurer, a dedicated business man, or love to live in the moment, we have bags that you can make your own. We have loved growing with our customers over the years and learning how to develop designs that screams originality.
The Britt Tote Bag
The Britt tote bag is the perfect bag for everyday use. Great for enjoying a shopping trip with your friends or carrying all of your essentials to University. The likely small marks created by the natural leather makes the tote unique and one of a kind. No one can steal your style! Fit everything you need for the day, including your laptop and daily essentials. To make the tote bag even more unique, we have added a front pocket to store your keys. You no longer have to dig through your bag for longer than necessary!
Work doesn’t have to be uniformed! You can update your style without breaking the rules. The leather Citylander is a perfect example of this. The practical and professional design will give you the ideal business look required for working life. The distressed hunter leather is the touch of originality that we love at Scaramanga. The leather brings the bag to life, giving you the opportunity to represent your personality perfectly. This laptop bag will give you a spring in your step while traveling to work.
The Ella Saddle Bag
We have taken the simple concept of a saddle bag and maximised it to make this handbag the dream accessory for women. The larger design will allow you to fit everything you need for the day. The handy clasp fastener was designed so you can access your belongings whenever you want. The distressed and chic style will most definitely create bag envy when carrying this original saddle bag around town.
For All The Adventurers
The leather duffle bag is a gorgeous design that will catch eyes throughout your journey. We’ve designed this new leather duffle bag for those who like to travel in style. The durable travel bag will also allow you to carry weight in a comfortable way. The large compartment has enough space for clothes for a weekend away. We have also included an internal divider so you can keep your laptop securely fastened while traveling.
Team Scaramanga encourage you to stand out from the crowd and represent a style that you are proud of. Choose a bag that will make your daily adventures that more exciting. Wear a bag that represents your personality at work. Whatever you are looking for, we have you covered!
We take you behind the scenes and show you how we search for the best vintage wardrobes and armoires and expertly restore them using experienced carpenters so their unique character and charm.
Hunting for Vintage Wardrobes
Each vintage wardrobe or armoire is unique and is hand selected by Carl, Scaramanga’s founder and director, he spends weeks hunting through the vintage and antique markets in India, searching antique dealers’ warehouses in the UK and local auctions looking for interesting wardrobes and armoires. We have been buying antique armoires and cupboards for over 10 years and have sold many hundreds. We buy from a small number of very experienced antique dealers and sellers across the UK and India. We work with the same dealers because they know us, what we like and how we like our cupboards and wardrobes restored. They are all small family run businesses that know the best places to find vintage furniture.
When searching for vintage wardrobes we buy different styles: grand colonial wardrobes are often made from golden teak, they will be influenced by Art Deco and Victorian design, but with a definite nod to Indian influences. and look very grand and imposing. Conversely, we also buy what are commonly known as almiras in Hindi. These are vintage wardrobes that have taken on a rustic charm after years of use.
Expertly Restored Vintage Wardrobes:
We rely on expert restorers and craftsmen like Umaida Ram. Umaida is 45 and from Barmer, a town in the Thar desert, Rajasthan, north west India. He has been a carpenter for 30 years. He comes from a long line of skilled artesans: his father was a carpenter, as was his grandfather and his grandfather’s father. His 17 year old son and brother are a carpenters. So working with wood is pretty much in his blood.
We often buy them with doors hanging off, drawers broken and needing many hours of expert restoration work. Buying them like this means we can ensure they are restored exactly how we like them to look. We don’t like them looking as if they are so well restored that they look brand new or belong in a stately home! At Scaramanga we believe wardrobes should have their own character and charm. Of course they need to fully functional for at least a couple of generations. We’ll try to keep them looking as they did when they were last used. They might have mismatched draw pulls and handles.
Buying vintage wardrobes in such a dilapidated state would scare many buyers off, but we know Ratna will restore our furniture using his considerable skills, using old reclaimed woods and good quality hardware. Small holes, dents and time-worn edges are left as we find them, but where a piece has broken we use seasoned wood that may have come from another piece of furniture of a similar age and style.
They will definitely have an original worn distressed paint finish and often reveal different colours of paint exposed by years of use.
We are not big fans of the fake distressing school of vintage furniture. Our finishing instructions are very simple and we are well known for ‘W&W’: ‘wash’ and ‘wax’. Once each wardrobe has been tested to see if it structurally sound and does lean or wobble too much (there’ll always be a little bit of movement in a vintage wardrobes joints) and treated for any potential wood boring pests. The wardrobe is washed using a mild detergent or often just water. We don’t want to wash away that unique patina that has built up over many years of use, but we have to make sure there are no spiders and layers of dust. Then we apply several layers of wax or polish to nourish the wood.
Vintage Wardrobes Around the House
Vintage wardrobes we buy can be used for lots of different purposes: bright colours or classic natural tones make striking free-standing kitchen cupboards in an eclectically styled kitchen or as larders they can be quite flat, so could also create extra storage space in hallway or landing. Where you don’t have built in storage then they work perfectly in bedrooms. Smaller compact ones add a flash of colour to children’s bedrooms, while bigger wardrobes at 2m high can store a lot of clothes. With 4 shelves the entire space could be filled.
In India vintage wardrobes do not usually have a hanging rail. Clothes were folded and placed in compartments (probably so more could be fitted into a wardrobe). In smaller houses almiras were and are still used for storing anything that other household possessions: jewellery, personal documents, money. We have several that have internal drawers and hidden compartments. So perhaps you understand why we love hunting for vintage furniture especially wardrobes. They’re such versatile pieces of furniture, really well-made and expertly restored and have a real story that is unique to each piece.
We designed and fitted this vintage inspired kitchen and opted for two vintage wardrobes and other free standing cupboards and cabinets. We mixed seven different woods, many different colours and styles to create a an eclectic kitchen with an overall bright and inviting atmosphere. Read our full free standing kitchen blog about what inspired us and how we sourced the wardrobes.
A Travel Bag For All
It’s that time of year when short trips and summer holidays are fast approaching. It’s also the time we are rushing around to find the perfect travel bag! Whether you are looking for the perfect flight bag to carry all of your travel essentials, or a leather backpack to help you explore in style, we have you covered.
Explore In Style With Our Boho Leather Backpack
Our small leather backpack is the perfect bag to take to any city break. If you are looking for a travel bag with endless practicality, the boho mini leather backpack is the one for you. This vintage rucksack will carry all of your small essentials for the day. The adjustable straps will also ensure you will feel comfortable and hands free while exploring your new surroundings. The mini backpack will for sure catch eyes.
If you are looking for a bigger bag to carry a change of clothes for a last minute trip, The large backpack could be the perfect upgrade. The large leather rucksack is a travel bag that will carry it all. There are three external pockets to allow you to fit all of your small essentials.
The Perfect Luggage Bags For Every Trip
If you are looking for stylish hand luggage or a carry-on bag, the leather duffle bag would make the perfect choice. This travel bag has endless space for clothes, magazines and any other travel essentials. If you are traveling for business, you can fit up to a 15” laptop. We have included an adjustable arm strap to allow you to carry all of your holiday essentials in style. This leather holdall is made from hunter leather to give you that vintage style while ageing gracefully.
Vintage Flight Bag
Our new orient flight bag is the perfect travel accessory for your next long-haul flight. Made from soft vintage leather, this bag will ensure you feel comfortable while traveling around the world. We have added an external zip compartment on the front of the travel bag. This is a great way to keep your passport and documents close to hand. The caramel leather is a rich contrast to the brown shade to give the bag an added extra touch of luxury. We have included an adjustable strap to ensure you can hold your coffee and sunglasses at the same time!
Whether you are looking for a vintage leather backpack to explore in style, or an antique flight bag for your next long-haul flight, We have endless travel bags to update your holiday style. In addition, why not take a look at Pinterest for more travel inspiration for your next trip.
Shabby Chic Furniture
If you’re like us, then you love Shabby Chic Furniture. We have a great range to meet your spring storage needs including vintage wardrobes, antique wardrobes, vintage cabinets and cupboards. You’ll enjoy the fact that each piece in our shabby chic furniture range is completely unique and one of a kind. These vintage wardrobes make a great feature or statement pieces for your bedroom or living room. Enjoy browsing some of our favourites below or consider browsing our selection on Pinterest for major Spring Home Decor inspo!
This gorgeous vintage wardrobe will make a big impact in your home. Part of our shabby chic furniture range, this beautiful wardrobe is as beautiful as it is practical. All the interior compartments provide ample storage and will keep all your bits and organised (and hidden from guests!) That colour though! This gorgeous green is unlike any colour we’ve seen, it will complement a neutral design scheme or add to an eccentric one, it’s a shabby chic furniture piece everyone can enjoy.
Another lovely Spring storage piece from our Shabby Chic Furniture collection is this cabinet or as we’ve called it a Vintage Linen Press Armoire. It is indeed a great storage solution for linen, but it could also be a TV cabinet. There is a lot of height between the shelves so you’ll have enough space for a TV. This cabinet is finished in a rustic off-white latte colour which means it will easily fit into any room in your home. Our range of cabinets and cupboards is unlike any in the UK, from large to small, we’ve got a cabinet for every room in your home.
This wonderful vintage cupboard is truly a unique shabby chic piece of furniture. It’s an old larder cupboard fitted with mesh sides and doors and sturdy wood craftsmanship. It has it’s original blue paint from roughly 80 years ago, so time and age have left lovely little imperfections. We feel this character and charm to vintage furniture. This vintage cupboard will obviously work in a kitchen as a pantry or storage cupboard, but would also work in a bedroom, living room or hallway. It’s a gorgeous piece that will make a real statement piece in your home.
Shabby Chic Storage Cabinet
What a stunner this one is! You can use this shabby chic storage cabinet as a display cabinet for all your greenery, curios or anything you’d like to show off. There is something particularly elegant about the glass doors, right?! They have that ability turn whatever you store inside into extraordinary treasures. This eye-catching cabinet can easily be styled into any room in your home. So go, what are you waiting for!
Our new home decor collection has arrived and we’re in L O V E. You’ll find a range of blankets and throws, hanging planters, affordable wall art, rugs and even glass boxes for terrariums. These Spring 2018 home decor pieces will give your space an instant makeover. And the great news is, this range of home decor including all the furniture, blankets, rugs and wall hangings won’t break the bank, some new items start just £8! Like all our vintage furniture, this new home decor collection is handcrafted by artisans, original and sourced from around the globe, meaning you’ll find something truly special and unique. Have a look on Pinterest for some major Spring Home Decor inspo!
Spring Home Decor
We’ve got a full range of new plant pots in our home decor collection to choose from. First is our repurpose plant pots, these are upcycled from old measuring cups sourced from India. A handle has been added so you can easily make these hanging plant pots or still sit them on top of a table. If you’re looking to achieve that Jungalow look this Spring, then you are in luck. In addition to our upcycled plant pots, we’ve got these lovely handcrafted clay pot that sits in metal hangars, they can be styled individually, or hooked together to make a real statement piece of art.
It keeps getting better, new this Spring is our wall hanging planters that have been repurposed from old metal pails. These have that original industrial chic look, as well as the always popular shabby chic style look. So no matter what your home decor scheme is, these plant pots and hanging wall planters will fit in perfectly.
Rugs – Large Rugs – Living Room Rugs – Kitchen Rugs
Spring Home Decor
We’ve got rugs! You’ll see a lovely collection of rugs at Scaramanga these days including large rugs, living room rugs and bathroom and kitchen rugs. We’ve specifically chosen handcrafted rugs that you can’t find anywhere else. Our large rug is woven from natural dyed and ethically sourced cotton. The colourful triangles make this rug wonderfully playful! It will complement an eccentric home decor scheme or be a real statement piece.
On the smaller side, we have tile design rugs that are suited for a kitchen rug or bathroom rug because of the size. However, with the right styling, these rugs could be used in any room.
Throws – Sofa Throws – Bed Throws
Spring Home Decor
We’ve got throws…and they’re beautiful! Our new range of throws is not to be missed, these beauties are as much decorative as they are practical. Like the perfect outfit accessory, a sofa throw is a perfect accessory for your living room, it just pulls everything together! These throws have a lovely zigzag herringbone design that is truly a timeless look that will never go out of style. From vintage to modern home decor, these bed throws will complement your home as well as giving you an instant mini makeover. Look no further than here for a truly original range of blankets and throws.
Wall Art – Affordable Art – Art Prints – Vintage Art
Spring Home Decor
Our new collection of handpainted wall art is pretty special, they have been crafted by skilled artists from Jodphur, India. These art prints are intricately painted and the use of colour is extraordinary, each is a unique one-of-a-kind art piece. This range of affordable art includes pictures of Ganesh, the Hindu God, as well as pictures of hands and feet depicting the science of reflexology. These art prints would look amazing in any space including offices, yoga studios and even classrooms. You’ll enjoy that these prints are on lightweight paper, therefore very easy to hang. If you are looking to add vintage art to your space, then look no further!
So those are the star pieces that make up our Spring Home Decor collection. Hope you find something you love!
Team Scaramanga love our pets so much that we have decided to introduce vintage dog collars in 2018. We couldn’t celebrate the year of the dog in a better way. We have introduced a range of pet accessories to ensure you can treat all of your pets at any size. Add a touch of originality to your dog collar with a personalised name tag. This will definitely give your dog a beautiful treat they deserve.
Leather Dog Collars
Our leather dog collars are the perfect accessory for your pet this year. We have a selection of sizes from extra-small to Large to cater to all of your furry friends.
The small dog collars are a perfect way to introduce your brand new puppy in to your life. You may feel reluctant to buy a dog collar for your puppy as they grow up so fast. You can try out our smaller collars and if your gorgeous pet loves it, you can upgrade them to a bigger collar.
The medium dog collar is a great way to upgrade puppy accessories when your dog gets slightly older. Choosing your dog a collar can’t be taken lightly. This may be their only accessory so we all need to make the right decision. The large dog collar is a slightly bigger version of the medium dog collars.
Dog Collar Material
Our vintage pet accessories are made from our favourite hunter leather. We believe that a pet is an important member of a family and deserves to have a sophisticated style. Hunter leather is a material that ages beautifully as the years go by. The vintage material may have natural marks due it’s natural qualities, but we think this gives the material more character. The leather is soft enough to ensure your dog is comfortable when on their daily walks. It is also strong enough to stop from breaking or slipping off.
Personalise Your Pet Accessory
Take your pet’s style to the next level and treat them to a dog tag that is in the shape of a bone. This is a great way to add a touch of personality to your pet’s accessories. You have the opportunity to make the collar even more unique by personalising the name tag with your pets name. You can choose from a range of font sizes and colours to suit your pet. This bone dog tag is made from hunter leather to ensure it will match your chosen dog collar.
Take a look at our pet shop and select the perfect dog collar for your beloved furry friend. Whether you are looking to treat your brand new puppy to our small dog collars or upgrade to a bigger size, we have a range of pet accessories that will cater to a wide range of dogs.
We spend a lot of time hunting for storage cupboards and cabinets and every delivery we usually have a few large storage cupboards and cabinets. The best thing about them is that they are totally 100% original.
Their size is means they can be used for lots of different things in different places around the home. They were originally used as kitchen storage cupboards in Indian homes. The upper glass panels would have been wire mesh used to allow air to circulate and keep flies off any food stored inside. Their height means their tops can be used for displaying other items.
Our favourite colour is undoubtly blue, but we find them painted green, white and turquoise too. We find them with the paintwork faded and where possible we leave the colour as we find it. Although it’s tempting to make it look more distressed or add more paint and then partially remove it, we feel that it best to leave it as original as possible. Also it’s pretty easy to spot ‘fake distressing’. We instruct our restorers to simply: ‘wash and wax’. We wash to remove any dirt and grime, then simply wax them to preserve and feed the wood. Of course we’ll repair any damage and make sure they are structurally sound.
This cabinet shows Moghul influences around the window frames with symmetrical layes of domes. blended local Islamic and Hindu building traditions with those of Central Asia and Iran and is known as Indo-Islamic architecture. The storage cabinets are always of a very simple design on stilted legs.
The door opens to show a couple of shelves. In India kichens are still very traditional. Many still do not have electrical appliances. Even fridges, so food is prepared fresh daily. Tins and cannisters are used for storing dry foods like: peas, pulses and spices are stored in wall cabinets. These cabinets were used for storing food and tableware.
Today storage cabinets like these are not likely to be used in a kitchen, but could be used as a livingroom storage cupboard for books, board games, DVDs and other tech equipment. Or as a storage cupboard in a child’s bedroom for clothes and toys. it’s not too large so could easily be moved around a house and be used in a spare room for guests.
We are excited to share our new collection of Japanese Vintage Furniture with you! This range of vintage furniture is sourced from Japan and like all our furniture and interiors it’s old, original and authentic, not reproduced or made to look old. Each of these one-of-a-kind pieces of furniture has a bit of history to tell, we’ve listened and can’t wait to share what we know.
Tansu refers to traditional Japanese furniture such as wooden cabinets, boxes and chests of drawers. The origins of Tansu furniture can be found in Japan’s Edo period, 1615-1867. Japanese cabinetry from this period was made by master craftspeople who took great pride in their work and you can see the attention to detail as well as the awe-inspiring construction to have lasted throughout the years. The gifted creators of this art were deservedly esteemed by Japanese society, leaving a rich and influential legacy.
The tansu and its evolution over time were heavily influenced by society, geography, wealth and historical eras. The work of tansu makers is largely overshadowed by the people they made the chests and cupboards for such as wealthy merchant’s, samurais, regional leaders and noblemen. The image from a wooden block print shows a tansu with cupboard doors and two drawers being carried by porters. After the turn of c.20th, they became popular in Japanese homes as they were adapted for different uses. Historically they were not used as a stationary storage chest, but for travelling.
After 1850 (the Meiji era 1868-1910), tansu was made for different uses and purposes such as for storing kimonos and samurai swords, they were often used as mobile storage whilst travelling, just like old travel trunks from Britain would have been. From trunks with wheels to shipboard safes, from kitchen cupboards to clothing chests, tansu were the receptacles of an age of economic expansion. Japanese Cabinetry chronicles not only the physical characteristics and details of tansu, but also the historical eras and societal factors that influenced the craft.
Japanese Tansu styles and uses:
Isho tansu was made for storing clothes such as kimonos.
Ryobiraki Kasane-dansu: A style of the chest that was used for storing of women’s clothing. At a time when local noblemen in the late 1700s demanded modesty, this simple style was popular with the merchant class women. Typically Ryobiraki Kasane-dansu would have an upper double door, a two-part tansu. Most notably they were made from a plain simple wood that was unlacquered to make them look modest. The tansu below is in three parts and made from Kiri (paulownia) a very light-weight softwood.
Choba tansu were small chests with a single opening and various compartments. Often made from a high-quality hardwood and highly decorated. Kusuri were apothecary chests with rows and rows of small drawers and compartments for medicines. Katana dansu were used for keeping samurai swords and were used by sword makers.
Large chests with steps, in modular form, were also made as architectural pieces with drawers, sliding doors to be used to access upper levels of buildings.
Like early kitchen cupboards across Europe, kitchen tansu was made at the turn of the c. 20th and were functional kitchen units that were made to fit into kitchen alcoves.
Funa dansu were shipping chests and safes and were used for storing money, maps, other documents and nautical instruments. The chest would be unloaded at ports and ceremoniously placed where traders could see it. So size and appearance were important when the captain or owner was trying to portray wealth and affluence during negotiations.
Very small boxes were made to be used as vanity boxes, sewing boxes and writing boxes. Each with delightful artistic value and great attention to detail.
Regional variations included delicately lacquered tansus with floral and patterned decorations from Kyoto. Merchant’s chests / choba dansu from Sakai came styled in different woods to create chests with intricate compartments. A zenibako is a wooden money box, often with a secret compartment, secured with a padlock.
Tansu finishes can be either dry or lacquered. A chalk powder or clay was rubbed into the softwood surface then burnished with an Eulalia root whisk for a dry finish. Lacquer gives a smooth sealed look and comes across much more polisehd and refined.. Colours could be applied to the wood before the lacquer is applied.
Tansu hardware: Unique, Handmade & Original
Hardware used to adorn tansu was mainly functional while seeming decorative to the untrained eye. While chest joints in much of Europe often used strong dovetails. chest-makers used simple butted joints so forged iron was used to strengthen early tansu that was often used as travelling trunks. The technology used to press iron into plates did not arrive from Great Britain until the late c.19th.
A quick guide to styles and uses:
Herikanagu – edge hardware that lines the corners and edges of a tansu.
Obikanagu: – sash hardware that extends the front of a tansu – across the front of a door, the top, or the face of a door or drawer.
Sumikanagu – found on drawer faces or drawer-corners and often match obikangu hardware.
Mochiokuri – carrying handles, usually a loop appearing on top or sides.
Sao-toshi – usually a set of loops used with a pole that was slid through them for carrying a pair of porters.
Meita – a lock jamb plate.
Sashikomijo – simple sliding-door lock
Bo – vertical locking bar
Hikite – a drawer pull
Zagane – a flange or escutcheon surrounding the contact point of a drawer pull.
Toshi-zagane: Backplate for a drawer pull
Choban – door hinge
Omotejo – single-action lock that uses a spring for activation.
Urajo – an advanced double-action lock mechanism from the 1860s (introduced from outside Japan).
So there is a brief history of our new and exciting collection of vintage Japanese furniture. Each piece, with its simply Zen design, will add style and elegance to any room in your home. Each wooden chest, cupboard or cabinet is as much stylish as it functional, a worthy investment to make! See our range of vintage furniture for the home today.