Comparing Chests…


by dal


This month an intrepid searcher ran across an image of a chest in the collection of the Detroit Institute of Arts that looks a great deal like Forrest’s bronze chest, named Indulgence, hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe. It is not Forrest’s chest. It is certainly a chest that on the surface, looks a great deal like Forrest’s…but it is not the one we are looking for. Forrest’s is still hidden in the mountains north of Santa Fe.

The Museum’s chest was donated to the Detroit Institute of Arts in 1969. The museum specifies the dimensions of the chest as 9.6″ x 9.6″ x  6″. Forrest measured his chest and knows it to be 10″ x 10″ x 5″ But aside from dimensional differences there are other discrepancies that can be detected by examining photographs of both chests.

Here are images of both chests:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

The angle and lighting in these two photographs are clearly different and we really only have the front of each chest to compare. But in spite of those limitations and their apparent similarity..there are interesting differences which suggest that these two chests were probably made by different artists, possibly in far different centuries.

The most noticeable difference is the overall patina of the bronze. Forrest’s is dark, copperish and rich looking while the museums is bright with a slight yellowish cast and very shiny.

The irregularities between the two chests show up better when we look closer at the figures. To begin, let’s look at the row of shields that adorn the edge of the lid…specifically the 4 on the left side of the hasp.

Here is a closer look at that area on each chest:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

At first glance the 4 shields may look identical. But they are not. Their positions are ever-so-slightly different.

The first shield on the far left is tilted barely to the left on Forrest’s chest but on the Museum’s chest that same shield is tilted ever-so-slightly in the opposite direction.

The differences in the second shield from the left are easier to see. On the Museum’s chest that shield has its upper left corner missing. But on Forrest’s chest there is no missing corner.

The third shield on the Museum’s chest is quite tilted while on Forrest’s chest that shield is perfectly straight.

Notice the design between the shields. Between the third and fourth shields on Forrest’s chest we can see four rounds and a cross in the center. But on the Museum’s chest the cross is less distinct and has become a diamond.

Now let’s examine an area on the front of the chest to the right of the hasp. we see a figure lifting a ladder with other figures below the ladder. Here is the detail area from the photos:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

This detail is more difficult to make out until your eyes get adjusted to what you are looking at…

The area I want to focus on is the ladder and the hand that is holding the ladder from above.

First, note the apparent thickness of the ladder rungs in the two photos. The rungs look much thicker in Forrest’s chest. This is because of the lighting, which on Forrest’s chest exacerbates the high relief of the rung compared to the hollow area under the rung. On the Museum’s chest the rungs do not show the high relief. the area under the rungs is shallower.

Next, notice the angle at the wrist where the hand is holding the ladder. The angle in that wrist is much narrower on Forrest’s chest.

Now look at these two images showing the lower right corner of the chest.


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

There is a dent in the bottom plate in Forrest’s chest which does not appear in the image of the Museum’s chest. It may be easier to see this difference in the full images of the two chests.

There are many other differences as well that can be detected in the images of the two chest’s. But here is one very curious similarity which causes one to wonder how these oddities could come about on both chests.

Look at the top right corner of each lid:


Forrest’s chest


Museum’s chest

Both chests have a drooping corner. As if something very heavy was dropped on the corner of each lid or possibly each was designed with a drooping corner in mind..remarkable!!

My point is that although the chests appear, at first glance, to be the same, there are many differences between the two. Don’t let anyone try to convince you that these two chests are the same…or that Forrest’s chest has been found and hidden in the Detroit Institute of Arts. These are two different chests. Similar but not the same.

My guess is that over time, more of these chests will surface in museums and collections around the world…Indulgence is hidden in the Rocky Mountains north of Santa Fe…That’s the one I want to find.




Here is an alternative photo of the chest at the Museum. Patina looks closer to Forrest’s chest but the noted differences are still apparent. Forrest’s chest and the Museum’s chest are different in dimensions and in details.




109 thoughts on “Comparing Chests…

    • tha’ts some digging sure would like to hold Forrest chest still looking have fun be safe every one good day to all

  1. That is an absolutely fascinating find, Dal. Does Forrest know anything about the chest that would explain why there was more than one of this design made?

  2. I guess whoever thought they were identical has not too much confidence in his/her solve…

    And those new conspiracy theories are -in my eyes- very important to keep up the amusement factor over the winter time!

    However and nevertheless… Good work, Dal!

  3. Detroit of all places…I went back and read Gold and More…FF does not claim the chest was original or one of a kind. Tho it still could be, and somebody made a “newer” replica now sittting in Detroit?? Interesting to see the chest from a new light and angle.

  4. What Dal forgets to note is that the chest in the DIA is catalogued as late19th century.

    So is the chest in the DIA a Victorian-era reproduction of an original Medieval chest of the kind Forrest used? If Forrest’s dating of his chest as dating to the Medieval period is correct, and if the DIA is also correct in the dating of their chest, then this must be the case. Otherwise, both are Medieval or both are Victorian.

    It’s not a terribly interesting question to me as one assumes similar chests were produced in the same foundry, and that Victorians copied earlier romantic designs.

    I’m not sure why Dal feels the need to examine the photos in such granular detail to prove they are not the SAME chest unless he feels compelled to battle conspiracy theorists, but if one decides upon that approach then one will have little time for anything else.

  5. Thanks Dal for the clarification. The old one may be a bit crusty but the fillings devine. And if you don’t know the difference what does it matter?

  6. 3) Forrest’s chest does not have a groove around the feet and the other chest does.
    2) Forrest’s chest has a groove across the latch handle below the hinge and the other chest does not.
    1) And the number one reason it can’t be the same chest. It’s not more than 300 miles west of Toledo, Ohio!!!

  7. Wow, small variances in details aside, the two chests are QUITE similar. Now I kind of want to hear one of those experts from the Antiques Road Show comment with some more backstory information about the history of these chests.

  8. “ antique scholar told me that it was probably Romanesque 11th or 12th century.”
    Can antique scholars be wrong? How about an art museum staff? Of course. But does it really matter? If Fenn’s chest turned out to be 19th century would it diminish it’s desirability or value? Not to me. And I don’t think to anyone else either. (Not to mention, it’s full of gold!). Nowadays fame and notoriety of an object can far outweigh it’s intrinsic value.
    Only time will tell. Maybe the chests are twins and both appraisals are wrong. If anything, this discovery does not diminish the value of Fenn’s chest. It just boosts the value of the museums chest.

    • I agree ran-
      There may be dozens or hundreds of these chests around…who cares? What’s important is that this is not Forrest’s chest. His is still hidden.

      He could have put all his treasures in a cigar box and hid it…I’d still be looking for it…because it’s fun!

      These chests are interesting and very cool but it’s not the uniqueness of the container that drives me to look for the treasure…it’s the puzzle of the poem and the uniqueness of the man that hid it that fascinate me….

  9. Thanks Dal, for going into so much detail. At no time did I believe the chest at the DIA was Indulgence. I believe Indulgence is hidden somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. The date of the DIA box (19th century) is what piqued my curiosity and prompted me to contact them. I received an email from curator today as follows:
    I told her I was hoping to find out if there is an actual Romanesque chest/casket circa 1150AD like this in existence. This is her reply:

    “The quick answer is “not necessarily” – if it is made in a revival style, the artist used images and motifs and put them together to look like something they thought looked like it could come from the Middle Ages or Renaissance. It’s not necessarily a copy or forgery – it could be an homage to the arts of a different age.

    The senior curator believes ours is made in the 19th century, not as a forgery or copy, but as a decorative work produced for the interior decoration market. But all of this interest has sent him down to storage to take a second look. Or at least he will once the weather breaks.”

    So we have piqued the curiosity of the curators as well!
    My sister and I discuss my full telephone conversation in our latest YouTube video The Hoosier Sisters!

    • CRM-
      That article was pointed out years ago when the conversation about the figures on the chest were first brought up on this blog. That image is from a mural painting and is probably the scene that the chest artists used as a reference for their design. So much more detail in the painting than in the bronze boxes.

      • Ah, thanks, Dal. The text says it is a casket, and it looks like it has hinges, but these types of chests were made from all sorts of materials such as ivory that could be intricately carved. The one in the jstor article image certainly is not bronze.

      • dal,

        The following page after the image states that it’s a casket, not a mural. In my opinion, this is the one worth $25,000 and the other two are replicas. Perhaps Forrest owns the original and it will go to the finder.

  10. I think you are picking nits. Many hand made pieces by the same artist/craftsman evolve over time to have slight differences even though the intent was to make another identical chest. That is not unusual with centuries-old antiques.

    • Tough-
      I think you missed my point.
      My point is the two images are not of the same chest. There is no doubt that there are likely many similar chests out there. Possibly made by the same crafts persons…possibly made by many different crafts persons. The original mural of the scene was apparently popular and copied in many media…drawings, paintings, wood carvings, etchings and sculptures…

      I am not saying that it is impossible for those two chests to have been created by the same individual…I am saying that they are not the same chest.

      My attempt is to disprove the rumors flying around that the Museum’s chest is Forrest’s chest and that Forrest’s chest has been found.
      It has not been found. If it had been found Forrest would announce it’s finding in the media and on the blogs…
      The two chests are different…although similar…

      • There is one big difference one is associated with a structure and the other is in the rocky mountains full of gold and gems. if you believe they are the same go there and ask them to open it for you. good day all.thanks for the de bunk Dal some of us would never bite on a thought of some one ever finding it and not revealing it but to a museum.

      • Dal-
        After looking at the photos, I have to agree with you that they are different chests; Indulgence is not in Detroit. Thank you for putting that controversy in its grave.

        As for the side discussions of whether either one is an original or a replica, I cannot help but think of Forrest’s discussion of the artist who painted original works in the styles of famous artists; it doesn’t really matter whether the chest is an original or a replica. The chest of the Chase is Indulgence, and that is good enough for me.

      • So you say tbe chest has not be found?

        Would be good for Forrest to flat out make that claim to end all rumors.

        Forrest, has the chest, treasure, and/or trove been found?

  11. Very interesting. I sure would like to hear Forrest’s take on this other chest that has been around since 1969. Hmmmmm. When did Forrest start his foundry? Lol.

  12. Wow, that’s so cool Dal! Thanks for sharing the pictures. I would like to go to DIA to see the chest in person up close and to learn about where it came from who made it etc. It would be awesome to have a replica chest of Indulgence if you can’t have the real Indulgence!

  13. In the forward of Once Upon A While, page IX, Doug Preston says:
    “On the right side of the vault, on a sturdy shelf, sat a bronze CASKET of ancient workmanship that he had recently acquired. GENE THAW, the noted cxollector, had identified it as a rare Romanesque lock-box dating back to 1150 A.D.”

    All Caps are mine to highlight CASKET and GENE THAW.
    Google “Gene Thaw” and you’ll see that he was an expert of high regard.

    Also, Dal, if you look at the first shield right of the clasp you can clearly see the difference in the top edge of the shield.

    There are such strong similarities between these two chest that it makes me wonder if a mold can be taken from one and then shrink, as in it drying and losing a little dimension. And then being refined by hand before used to cast a number of new copies.
    This would account for everything, the similarities, the differences, and the existence of multiple copies.

    • Hi Renard,

      You are exactly correct, I think.

      If somebody made a plaster negative of the original chest and then made a wax positive and then cast a bronze copy, the resulting copy is expected to be 2.5% smaller because of shrinkage due to the difference in volume between the molten and solid wax and bronze.

    • How to spot a forgery.

      There are shrink rates of duplicating materials that change the part size by a few to tens of thousandths for each inch of part length and width. Two duplications are necessary going from a female “splash” of the original to a male model that will be used over and over for the metal molds. The only duplicating material I know of with expansion properties is plaster of paris and cement. The order of expansion is a couple thousandths per inch.

      Then there is the shrinkage of the actual casting during cooling. This shrinkage is two to three times greater than duplicating materials. Another peculiarity of castings is they don’t replicate the mold perfectly. Circular items become egg shaped. Things like corners may pull away or sink as they cool. Copy’s deformities become more pronounced. A riser or sprue feeds more liquid material into the part to minimize the effects.

      Costs in casting increases when the furnace melts less material than a full pour. Enough molds will be prepared to utilize the full capacity of the furnace crucible.

      Forrest has been known to knock a few things off and offer fakes for sale. A wiz with modeling/CAD/architecture could use the photos and known sized objects, to recreate the chests in cyberspace and then compare them. A copied casting the size of the chest after doing all the above steps will be “short” across the lid by a quarter inch or better. Today scanning and cnc can make nearly perfect copies. Then duplicating the process becomes the issue.

  14. It’s the contents that matter to me 🙂 I think Forrest found the best possible chest within reason to house them.

  15. Frankly, I’ve been more interested in the authenticity of another search related chest that was brought up on a utoob vid and at another forum.

    But I’m just an old deviant man without much else to think about…

    • and while we’re on the subject, I’d like to suggest to the Fennborree 2019 organizers a ‘Comparing Chests’ event with a detailed description and listing of winners provided here for the benefit of those who could not attend.

      If photos were to be provided, Dal’s viewership and ad revenue would SKYROCKET.

      Just a thought from an old deviant guy who wanted to spice up a thread….

  16. Hey Forrest,

    I guess maybe it wasn’t how special that chest was, only how special that excited museum director friend of yours could make you think it was.


    • Clearly this would not have been written in Fenns memoir if he thought his box was from 1150 AD. I think what we are looking at is two boxes from the same creator with slight differences but both from the 1900s. In other words Forrest was taken on his box.

  17. Dal,

    I enjoyed the comparisons of the two chests, I’d love to see them side by side, just for the fun of it. To bad that carbon dating can’t be more precise with metals or we’d know which era that the chests, (caskets) came from. I believe the differences in the metals used can be determined as to their ages. At least that’s what I remember from art history classes. I only took the classes as filler credits, while working on my masters in another field and because I loved art that came from the renaissance era.

    It’s things like this that creates confusion. I’ll take indulgence any day as we all do.

    Just Say’n

    • I’ll just add that I think the one in Detroit is a copy of Indulgence made by making a plaster negative then a wax positive which was cleaned up (hence the tiny differences) and then cast in bronze. Just my opinion. I really does make Indulgence even more special; and that one in Detroit will get to share its story.

    • Also the one in Detroit being slightly smaller sounds like that’s because bronze casts shrink by about 2.5% when they cool. 2.5% of 10 inches is a quarter of an inch, right?

  18. After reviewing the photos, I came to believe the museum’s chest
    is most likely an artisan’s reproduction of an original. Its condition lends it’s self to the idea
    ” the chest was well used by its owner ” Perhaps a merchants chest?
    Forrest’s chest seems to lend its self to the idea that it was a piece of well-cherished jewelry or valuables storage chest. Perhaps a ladies bedroom decor?

    If only those chests could talk, the stories they would tell.


    • If Indulgence is an original the maker of another must have had indulgence in their possession. Man, If they only knew.

  19. Thank you Dal for posting the fake chest.
    I remember visiting the Detroit museum when I was a child. I didn’t want to leave!
    Mr. Fenn’s chest is a better quality than the chest on display in Detroit.
    I like Mr. Fenn’s chest, so different! The castle of love….I absolutely love it!

  20. Indeed, your sharp observations are on target Dal. No question that the two chests are different, but I am puzzled by their similarity. The theme and character are striking. One could indulge in speculation as to the provenance from which they arose. I wonder what was their purpose and who made them? Was one copied of the other? You indicated that there may be others. Are they both copies of earlier work. The quality of Forrest’s chest seems to be of much greater workmanship, perhaps original. I think I remember reading somewhere that the purpose of these chests may have been for storing family bibles. Was this a common practice back when?

    • character-
      As mentioned…the theme is not unique. It was used in paintings, woodblocks, murals, carvings, sculptures, engravings, caskets, chests and whatever other objects artists could think of that someone might pay for….It’s popularity came and went…
      Think of it as “The Last Supper”, one of the world’s most recognized paintings and which appears today on everything from postcards and fine china to underwear. The Last Supper’s popularity has not yet faded…

  21. It’s like looking in a mirror, one is fake,one is not.did forrest have a twin brother that passed away as a child.his mother was a twin.two identical sisters..but really not the same inside.they thought different and acted differently. You got one thing old you bought years you find the same thing you bought years ago.but the thing you just bought was new to you and you still have your old identical one.looks the same .new and old.past and
    You got the north pole and the south pole on the earth
    Turn the world upside down
    So south becomes north pole vise versa
    Yet different.we as humans are different but yet the same inside our physical bodys. I just think the answer to the poem is everybody is equal.people all over the whole world.we are one on the inside.and the same because of our dna.which comes from the beginning of time.the first start.creation of all things.just my two cents worth

  22. That is interesting. I wonder if Forrest knows the method that was used to work the metal on his chest. Was it cast? Or maybe beaten on a form using sinking or rising? If it was the latter, then it is possible that the chests were both created on the same forms but by different craftsmen. I wondering if there is a mark indicating the creator?

  23. ask yourself why would a man give so much of him self. fight for your freedom and give so much of himself to better your life deceive you in any way ? He has told us all the time it was for our youth we have learned along the way or those of us that have taken him on his words
    have Leaned we need to see and listen that/s all. he is a great man that cares about all of us and our children what more can you ask from a self made man listen the big picture is independence. he cares about every one he was raised to do so his father and mother installed into his very being. tha;ts why he has given so much of himself tank you Sir Forrest Fenn we are all here for your last flight for freedom because we love you and I for one am not afraid to say that because you saved my life always jeff Burch and Titan he loves his ground time as well but i have learned so much art will be a miss when you take the flight we
    canot follow. may peace be with you always J eff Burch AND Titan ranee Mon and bunch hes met us all love alwa s and god bless you and yours, this strokr has tought me to be grateful read it and know im sincere.

  24. I’m fairly certain these are sibling chests. Whatever minor differences there are between them, they aren’t enough to consider them as being created from entirely separate processes. They were probably made around the same time, by the same person(s), whenever that was. What I think is most interesting is footers. I think maybe Forrest’s chest had footers like the one in Detroit and that they were removed/lost at some point. The extra “cap” pieces at the bottom are likely attachments, and maybe Forrest recalls seeing where and how they were attached at the bottom of his chest as well. It’s interesting because there’s a history, or “life story”, of this inanimate object we’re all looking for, and your reminded of its story by the mysterious missing footer caps.

    I’d love to go see it in Detroit, but unfortunately it’s not on display. Plus, no one wants to be in Detroit right now. We need to start a campaign to get them to take it out of storage by spring.

    • Possibly the two chests have entirely different style of footers, and the ones on Forrest’s aren’t just missing a piece, it’s hard to say from the angle of the photos, but I do believe that the footers are pieces that are attached to the main body of the chest (like the lid, clasp, etc.) and that the main body between the two probably share the same mold. There’s the argument that the Detroit one was copied later, in an entirely new mold. That really doesn’t seem to be the case. I would think there’d be a lot more differences, at least a few more pronounced. These are siblings, in my considered opinion.

    • “It’s interesting because there’s a history, or “life story”, of this inanimate object we’re all looking for,”……..

      Agreed Jeremy.

      I’ve been curious for several years about a comment that Chase Reynolds Ewald – , made several years ago:

      “I have seen the treasure (not because I’ve found the hiding place, unfortunately) and it’s for real, from the ancient chest itself, recovered from a shipwreck……” –

      ?? Wonder what made him think it was recovered from a shipwreck??

      • I actually emailed Forrest on 11/20/18 about that shipwreck statement from Chase Reynolds Ewald and he responded:

        No, it is not true. Chase is an old friend who writes for Art and Architecture magazine. She has a good story about me in the magazine now. f

  25. Jeremy P wrote: “I’m fairly certain these are sibling chests. … They were probably made around the same time, by the same person(s), WHENEVER THAT WAS”. [CAPS are mine, for emphasis]

    Jeremy then proceeds to move away from when the chests were made, to say “What I think is most interesting is …”
    Ah, but it’s that date that really needs to be cleared up.

    Upthread, randawg quotes Forrest as saying: “ antique scholar told me that it [the hidden chest] was probably Romanesque 11th or 12th century.”
    The implication of Forrest’s comment is that the hidden chest was created in the 11th or 12th century, and thus worth a lot of money. Yet, according to Cindy (above), the DIA says the museum chest was created in the 19th century; that’s a difference of some 700 years.

    Like Cindy, I never thought the museum chest was FF’s hidden chest, retrieved. And it’s hard for me to believe that any serious searcher would claim that it was. So, to the extent that y’alls research has confirmed that the museum chest is not the hidden chest, I say … great. And this thread thus provides a valuable service.

    But …

    That still leaves open the question of why Forrest explained that the chest came from the 11th or 12th century. Was Forrest duped? If so, he needs to acknowledge that. Maybe Forrest simply left out vital information about the chest when he made his comment.

    Reading through poster comments in this thread is not encouraging. Posters seem to want to give Forrest a pass on his comment that the chest is from the 11th or 12th century, as Jeremy quickly slides past the dates issue, and moves on to discussing physical aspects of the two chests.

    Be careful of confirmation bias, of seeing what we want to see. The existence of a second chest does not contribute to trust in Forrest Fenn among people who already were convinced that his treasure hunt is a hoax. This two chests issue just gives those doubters more ammunition.

    There’s no question in my mind that Forrest hid a box containing treasures, and that the box of gold is still out there. Still, Forrest needs to address this 11th century vs. 19th century issue, [i]vis-à-vis[/i] letting readers at this blog, or elsewhere, make justifications for him. Letting the date issue slide does the treasure hunt no good.

    Ken (in Texas)

    • Hi Ken,
      I addressed the different dates above, and how it could be that both chests are Medieval, both are Victorian, or one is the former and one is the latter (a replica).

      Yet I disagree with you that Forrest needs to address anything here — if his box actually isn’t 12th century, so what? It’s what he was told by an expert so he performed his due diligence. Now if he were selling an antique with an incorrect provenience, that would be something he should address, but he’s not, so this is a nothingburger.

      • Xfiles;

        I 100% agree with you. What difference does it make? If Forrest was duped – So what? A mistake was made. Just because it is “Forrest’s Indulgence” – whenever it was made, pales in importance. The chest (Indulgence) is now famous. Whoever finds it will do with it as he/she chooses. Once found, someone MAY appraise it’s value – or not. MAY evaluate when it was made – or not. Who cared? Not me. JMO – JDA

          • Butv8f the finder is in it for the money, it does beg the question that with so many chests, how can the finder ever prove it is “the one.” Interesting quandary.

    • Ken, I have no idea when the chests were made. I can look at the photos and make an educated guess, with a fair degree of confidence, that they are siblings. So I feel comfortable making that claim.

      As far as the date, I don’t know what ideas Forrest’s antique scholar used to guess that it was 12th century, or what Detroit’s people used to guess that it was 19th. Detroit doesn’t list off a bunch of evidence to support the date, and Forrest has always disclaimed the date with statements like “we think it is” but adding “I don’t know”.

      We know the style dates back to the early 14th century, at least, because these chests were obviously inspired by the one is documented in The American Journal of Archaeology, which references a mid-nineteenth century book on medieval art ( read the footnotes people! 🙂 ). That’s a chain of documentation probably given a lot more thought than the other guesses. Still, though, that one is carved, with great detail, ie. original art, and these probably came after. I wouldn’t be surprised or disappointed if it was 19th century. It’s a beautiful piece of art, with historic value.

      Forrest doesn’t need to address anything. He said it was someone else’s opinion on the date, that he didn’t know, and that they could be wrong. It wasn’t a terrible guess, but it probably is off. Your point was that it’s all about figuring out the value of the chest. Forrest said he spent $25K on it, and probably overpaid. That was before… all of this. The date in which art is made doesn’t add as much value to the piece as you may think. It wasn’t when Monet’s Meule was painted (late 19th-century) that made it sell for $81.4 million.

      Plus, I fail to see how one item that was bought for $25K matters in the least, when the spot gold price of the contents is well into the hundreds of thousands. It was never the big ticket item in the collection. It’s just a pretty container, and it’s certainly worth more than $25K now.

      • I would add… Don’t think you can get $25K in value out of the chest if it were a 19th century piece of art? A single original drawing from the Thrill of the Chase fetched $8K at auction, and that’s just ink and paper.

        • Jeremy-From looking on ebay and a couple other sites, $25,000 looks really high actually. 19th century wasn’t really that long ago, I have stuff in my house that old. Also Indulgence appears rather crude and without jewels or precious materials, as compared to some other chests for sale. Prices seem to go from $50-$3,000 commonly, with some pieces higher, with older or more elaborate pieces more valuable.

          • You’re looking at bronze boxes from the 19th century on eBay. You’re not looking at bronze treasure chests from a massive treasure hunt started by the legendary Forrest Fenn. Trust me, they’re entirely different things.

  26. This would be a really good time for Forrest to discuss in full disclosure the providence of his treasure chest named Indulgence. IMO the credibility and valuation of any possible treasure is at stake.

    As described by the author in the following link, the scenes on the chest depict an allegorical siege, which was a popular thing to do in Romanesque art. “Figure 7. Attack on the Castle of the Church by the World” shows a scene which is very similar the the scene on Indulgence. It is not a large capital “H” on the cover, it is actually a depiction of a castle under siege. I’m sure a lot of you, like myself, spent a lot of time researching the ” H” and things like Hermes in order to try and make sense of the chest motif, and also the letters/initials on the inside of the latch, because we were not provided proper photo’s. It sure would be nice to be provided all photo’s available, in high resolution untouched format, so that we may make progress. I’d like to know who is defending this castle, what institution the castle represents, and who is attacking it. The allegory may be important to understanding TTOTC. Or perhaps the allegory has no relevance at all to the theme of TTOTC, and its just an authentically old, or old looking box. Nevertheless, some of you may think the following interesting…

  27. There are plenty of antiques a hundred and thousands years old that have been copied, and doesn’t take away the value of the original. If one does find the chest, if they are so concerned about the age of the chest, they can do the research.

    I truly believe that Forrest was relying on what he was told about the age of the chest. I would ask the seller to explain how they arrived at the age of the chest, not Forrest. Don’t burden Forrest with the age.

    It all comes down to one chest filled with gold that we are looking for, and not worry about its age. Naysayers will always be around no matter what?

    Just Say’n

  28. Forrest never said his chest was a “one of a kind”. He has stated that he gave to much for it , but it was a perfect chest to hold his cache…. so are there others out there like indulgence? Apparently so…

    Let’s say, if I hid 1000 dollars in a Folgers can and dared everyone to find it and another Folgers can appeared during the search, does that mean that it’s the can that held my 1000 dollars … no..

    If anyone is remotely thinking that this is Forrest chest then that means they don’t believe Forrest in the first place… Forrest has said (paraphrasing) “ If I feel the chest has been found, I will contact Dal and 3 major media outlets”. This has not happened… I believe Forrest is a man of high integrity, and a man of his word. I feel he takes “The code of the west” to heart as should we all….

    I feel like Forrest doesn’t need to explain anything or even consider that thought…

    Not to mention the “Detroit” chest was donated to them in 1969, heck, Forrest wasn’t even in The art business then or even thinking about the chase then, it wasn’t until he was diagnosed with cancer those thoughts manifested…
    Th differences in the two that dal has pointed out, alone should be enough….

    Well, I’ll get off my soapbox , I just wanted to state my opinions on this matter..
    Besides, there’s a chest out there hidden somewhere north of Santa Fe waiting to be found and I not wasting my time down this fruitless rabbit hole….

    All the above is just my opinion, so take it as you wish…..

    Until next time…. see ya

  29. Thank you , Dal , for posting this comparison. There are subtle differences in the chests, the most obvious to me , is color. The original has that beautiful, warm color that comes with age and Detroit is a little too shiny for me. Forrest has said many times that he will let everyone know when Indulgence is found . We just have to trust in him , and I do 100%. You have to admit, it makes the heart do a little jig there , for a minute. Winters here at HOD are never boring.
    Oh yeah- hurry up, Spring!!

  30. Veronica, so true. Trust and honest respect must be mutual. When it is, the rest is cake. When it isn’t…it just isn’t good for anyone involved. Two way streets are always more effective than one way streets I think.

  31. I found something cool. I believe this is the original design that Forrest’s chest was modeled after:

    I followed up on the American Journal of Archaeology (JSTOR) article’s reference and went dumpster diving on the Internet to find the original book it came from. It’s Trachten und Geräthschaft written by Jakob Heinrich von Hefner-Alteneck in 1882. It was a series of books on Renaissance art. Trachten und Geräthschaf translates to “Costumes and Equipment”.

    I think both chests may actually be from the 19th century, made directly from this plate in the book. The design is Renaissance rather than Romanesque period. There’s a chest somewhere that dates to 1280-1340, but it was drawn into this collection of Renaissance art and published in 1882, and I believe that is where the chest-makers drew their inspiration from.

    Notice that both the top and the front are in this book plate (the front, and colors, are missing from JSTOR). There are noticeable differences between the casts and this design. The artist who cast the chests later chose to use a different latch and ignore some details like the teeth on the turrets in the front piece, however they faithfully maintained the general design and characters straight from the book. They used this picture as inspiration to make the molds, in the 19th century.

    People have referenced the JSTOR article, you’ve seen the top in black and white, but I don’t believe this original illustration linked to before. Now you can see both the top and the front, in living color. I think the evidence strongly suggests we have a 19th century cast chest, based on a drawing of another chest made between 1280-1340, and that conclusion is based on the book being published in 1882. This illustration is the reference material they used.

    • Jeremy-” I think the evidence strongly suggests we have a 19th century cast chest, based on a drawing of another chest made between 1280-1340, and that conclusion is based on the book being published in 1882. This illustration is the reference material they used.”

      -I agree 100%, providing the caveat that the Detroit chest has been dated correctly as being from the 19th century. If it looks like a duck, swims like a duck, and quacks like a duck, chances are that it is a duck. IMO, It appears that the Forrest Fenn chest is not from the 11th or 12th century, and it is not even close to being 700-800 years old. It is from the 19th century, or it may even be modern if Forrest himself had it made. He may have had it made in order to illustrate an allegory depicting a siege, and this siege may be a major theme of what Forrest is really writing about in TTOTC. For those of you who think the age of the chest doesn’t matter, you’ve been blinded by the glimmer and dream of finding gold. The chest and the therefore the contents of the chest are in question. The reality of the Detroit chest seems to be saying all that glimmers is not gold.

      dal-Assuming that a photo exists somewhere, please provide a photo of the lid on Forrest’s chest in high resolution format that is not photoshopped in any way, so that we may examine it and compare it.

      • Homebrew, not sure how long your post or mine in response will survive, but you raise the real conversation to my thinking…and although I have been wandering around the chase for many years – this is still an aha moment.

        The chest depicts a siege. Specifically a siege to win Heart/Hope. All of the pictures Forrest offers of a chest make the lid look like it has an H on it. H for Heart. H for Hope. Twin H’s. Lots of Twins in the chase.

        Is Forrest searching for a Heart that will give folks Hope? Or is Forrest searching for Hope that people have a Heart?

        What in the ell’s are we searchibg for?

        Interesting twist at the end. The lure was the gold and money, perhaps because it reaveals the truth about folks in a way nothing else can.

        Have you ever said something that was “off the cuff” only to realize later how incredibly deep and brilliant that “off the cuff” comnent really was?

        Love it when that happens. It happens alot in the chase I think.

        Never give up Hope. Heart.

      • “For those of you who think the age of the chest doesn’t matter, you’ve been blinded by the glimmer and dream of finding gold.”

        Homebrew, yes, absolutely… what’s wrong with that?

        It’s a container that he paid $25K for (and he says he overpaid). Why would that container’s age matter when its contents are worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars?

        More to the point, why would any of it matter if you never found the thing, and if you actually did find it and were suddenly up to a million dollars richer, why on earth would you be thinking, “Dang, all that money is nice, but wouldn’t it be better if this box were just a little older”?

      • “For those of you who think the age of the chest doesn’t matter, you’ve been blinded by the glimmer and dream of finding gold.”

        Homebrew, yes, absolutely… what’s wrong with that?

        It’s a container that he paid $25K for (and he says he overpaid). Why would that container’s age matter when its contents are worth at least hundreds of thousands of dollars?

        More to the point, why would any of it matter if you never found the thing, and if you actually did find it and were suddenly up to a million dollars richer, why on earth would you be thinking, “Dang, all that money is nice, but wouldn’t it be better if this box were just a little older”?

        • Jeremy, sure you jest. People searching for the contents of said chest have resulted in folks making decisions that have ended their life, end their marriage, ended the roof over their head, ended their hope and faith in the decency if many in the chase itself. Its is precisely pursuit of the container and its contents that Forrest may want us to examine.

          Surely you jest about what difference it makes. It is perhaps the point Forrest wants to make.

        • Jeremy – well written. Why would the finder care about the age of the chest if it was indeed Forrests and it contained everything he said. I doubt the finder would care and I agree with your post.

          Good research!

      • homebrew,

        In TTOTC, Forrest says he bought the chest from a museum friend. You suggest that F may have had the chest made.

        The statement from F is in the section of Gold and more. Please tell me why F wasn’t truthful in where he got the chest, and it being Romanesque, which is basically what you are indicating. Jeremy P did indicate that there was a chest with similar features dating between 1280 to 1540. So why can’t it be that F chest be that old?

        How many of the folks are true archeologists here? I would guess none. What folks are saying is merely conjecture and nothing more. Is the age important enough to prevent one to look for the treasure? I bet not.

        As I said up thread, if one is that concerned and they find it, they should have the research done by a professional to determine age, etc.

        Just Say’n

    • very cool illustration, totally agree with your conclusion. also to add, it appears to me that the two chests came from a mold that was reused. The museum chest appears to be far more distorted, so it was probably cast from a mold that was used once too many times, although in the 19th century I do not know of too many mold types that were reused like that. most likely they used a positive, and redid the mold several times, but the positive must of been damaged each time it was reused to make a mold.

      the differences with the height and feet and base plate can easily be explained as those pieces are added after the casting is put together. They simply used different pieces for the bottom plate and feet. the museum cast has feet that appear to be far closer to the edges of the box, ff’s chest used shorter feet and set back from the edges of the chest.

      the original positive “mold” was probably the actual 13th century chest, but a secondary positive (cast in probably a not as durable metal) was created to be a positive mold)

      and probably several chests were made for sale this way. ff is probably correct in that he overpaid.

      it is very obvious the two chests are different in the end. ff’s chest sitting somewhere in the woods.

    • Strong work, Jeremy! That’s a great find, I appreciate you sharing it.

      I downloaded the text that goes with the plate you found. Back when, I did enough 19th century military/political history that I can deal with the old Fraktur font easily enough, but my working German has atrophied over the years, so it’ll take me some time to get anything out of it. A task for the next snowbound days if any.

      I can offer one tweak to your initial appraisal. The artifact and image in question is NOT Renaissance – the rest of the title of the book you found is “From the early Middle Ages to the End of the Eighteenth Century,” so it covers much more than just the renaissance.

      The date range of the artifact itself (1280-1340) puts it squarely between the two periods (Romanesque and Renaissance), but the “style” of the image is recognizably Romanesque.

      As for the extant chests using that image, your interpretation of their dates is perfectly reasonable. It’s unlikely that the one ff obtained came with any ironclad provenance, so his cursory description is probably all anyone’s ever going to get.

      I got no dog in that hunt, my interest in all this is strictly and artifactorally artifactual.

      Anyone wishing to exercise their “caveat emptor” right to cease chasing ff’s chest until proven provenance is provided is free to do so. Seems to me like looking a gift horse in the mouth by lifting its tail, though.


      • I couldn’t make it through the German and calligraphy either, but was able to clip it and feed it into Google Translate. This is what they said:

        “Plate 156 Box of Solz probably intended for the storage of bridal gifts from the end of the XIII or the beginning of the XIV century The raised painted and partially gilded picture on the cover as on the four side walls shows the popular and frequently recurring depiction of the Minneburg in the Middle Ages defended by siren and stormed by knights as we gave a similar one only in conception and material different in Plate 153 The technique of this work we have already shown in knight shields of this 5 It already consists in a chalk and hittiges Maffe with canvas underlaid pressed from Sormen The sigures in the larger illustration on the cover are repeated in a very similar manner on the four sides of which the latter we give in the figure only the Worderseite with the Schloffe The edge of the lid shows all around a series of heraldic shields Noteworthy is that the knights are only marked by their shield. Similar to the woes of the long coat, they are painted heraldic like the one we have often seen in knights. Unfortunately, this interesting remnant of medieval work of art has contributed to it His former owner suffered greatly from being washed with hot water. But as the sigils and details on it repeat themselves with little modification, we were able, by comparison of the damaged parts with the existing ones, to present the whole here in its original state”

        • Hi Jeremy,

          I think I can slightly improve your translation: “..It consists of a chalk and hemp-like mass, covered with canvas, pressed out of the form and partly worked out by hand..

          Indulgence is likely the original casket and that illustration is of a plaster copy of Indulgence.

          So now we have two copies of Indulgence made hundreds of years apart but both so similar they must have been copied from the same original, IMO.

        • Not bad. The auto reader clearly had some trouble with Fraktur (which is not calligraphy, but was the standard printing font for German and other Central European countries right up until the early 20th century). I can still work out most of the Fraktur text out with just a little effort.

          Here’s a couple-few corrections:

          1 – “. . . the Minneburg in the Middle Ages defended by siren and stormed by knights . . . ”

          mixed up S and F – should be “defended by women (Frauen, not Srauen) and stormed by knights . . . ”

          2 – “It already consists in a chalk and hittiges Maffe with canvas underlaid pressed from Sormen . . .”

          actually reads

          “It consists of a chalk- and putty-like mass, underlaid with canvas, pressed out of forms, put on and partly worked out by hand.”

          (hittartgen Maffe is kittartigen Masse; Sormen is Formen)

          I infer that the painting was done on a chalk-ground gesso applied to canvas, a surface pressed out in a mold to make the top and sides of the box. It’s not a cast-metal box.

          3 – “The sigures in the larger illustration on the cover are repeated in a very similar manner on the four sides of which the latter we give in the figure only the Worderseite with the Schloffe.”

          (Fraktur ‘f’s and ‘s’s confused again by the auto-reader, and a V misread as a W in the word Vorderseite)

          Actually reads:

          “The figures in the larger illustration on the lid are repeated in a very similar manner on the four side surfaces, the latter of which we show in the figure only the front side with the lock.”

          (Simply explains that the picture in the book only shows the cover and the front side of the box.)


  32. Forrest talked much about fakes in his book. Perhaps the chest is a fake and Forrest is the maker. Would that make it less valuable than 11th century. I don’t think so. I think it makes the chest all the more valuable. We’ll just have to wait and see. Sotheby’s can test out the theory later this fall. It’s another fitting twist to the Chase. I like it.

    • And the tongue in cheek on lgfi. The little girl from INDIA… In DIA. A chest is in DIA as it turns out.

      So fun!

      • Or rather, the little girl from India cannot closer than the first couple clues because she is in India and the chest of the Chase is not IN DIA. 😉

        (Again, tongue in cheek only.)

      • So here is what I say. Who cares about the age of a chest, weight, dimensions, or its contents or lack of contents…unless we are talking about a human chest. Then we all should hope the chest has a heart inside.

        Forrest has repeatedly said in so many words that … they never knew it was the chase they were seeking…not the physical riches.That is true. Depending on perspective, everything it both true and untrue at the same time. So regardless all else, in 2019, chase for the adventure, the fun, the laughter, the love, the kindness, and the learning. Not for the age of the chest, the chest or its contents. Those things do not matter. They never did.

      • Yes! Good job seeing that one, “In-DIA”, in Detroit Institute of Art. I still want to see the scene and allegory on the lid clearly. Is f standing on the top of the castle, defending it? What is being represented by the castle under attack, is it Freemasonry, gay rights, any ideas?

        • …and we’ve been tantalized with the dream of finding a very old and expensive chest filled to the brim with riches, we’ve been sold, so we read the stories and played along. Ask yourself what is Forrest really writing about? Same with Eric Sloane, people thought he was writing about old farm implements and stuff. What is the allegory, hidden theme, or purpose/cause being sold under the lure of a treasure hunt?Smelling the sunshine along the way is nice but secondary to the real purpose.

          • It’s called Castle doctrine. Forrest is playing “Defend the Castle”. Get close to the treasure and you will understand what I mean.

  33. There is a major difference in the weight of the 2 chests. The Detroit Museum is saying theirs weights 40 lbs.

    • If the museum ‘casket’ is empty than it must be lined with metal instead of wood. Or it’s made of a metal that is twice as heavy as Fenn’s. Or the museum made (another?) mistake.
      You might ask for clarification if you are still in correspondence with them inthechaseto.

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