Full Chisel Blog

September 29, 2008

Coffee Barrel

Filed under: Historical Material,Of Interest,Restoration,Uncategorized — Stephen Shepherd @ 5:32 am

This is an interesting artifact I picked up at a local swap meet.  I think I paid $25.00, they were asking more but I would pay their asking price.  When I first saw it it was behind some stuff and I thought it was shorter.  Finding a shipping container this old was quite fortunate as most of them were used up and eventually burned.

It is made of Chestnut cut in thin sheets and banded and clinch nailed together.  The bands have thin sheet iron on the ends.  It is about 30″ tall.


There is writing on the bottom in packing box script, done with paint and brush, showing the initials and destination.  The barrel is about 18″ in diameter.

Packing Box Script

It contains MOKASHA Coffee.


Here is a close-up of the product label.  There is a stencil on the barrel band ‘__________ CITY’?

Product Label

This is the top of the barrel, tongue and groove with a batten on the back, all nailed with square cut nails and sprigs.  There are power planer marks on this piece so it is mid nineteenth century.

Barrel Head

This is an additional label on top of the barrel.  I wonder if Mr. Jackson is missing some coffee?

Additional Label

This is an interesting piece, there is a bit of damage to the bottom which should be easy to repair and the head needs some attention, but all in all a very interesting bit of period packing material that didn’t get thrown away or burned.

 So this barrel contains: 4.4 Cubic Feet, or about 3 and a half bushels. (I had help with the math, thanks Mr. P.)  I think modern coffee bean bags are between 150 to 180 pounds each.  Of course this barrel would have contained green beans (they are actually berries) as they store and transport better than roasted coffee.  Also green beans are smaller than roasted beans so they would take up less space.



  1. Doesn’t it say “MOKASKA”? Anyway, thanks for sharing it. My great great grandfather was a cooper, so I’m fond of old barrels, too.

    Comment by Joe Cottonwood — September 29, 2008 @ 12:25 pm

  2. Joe,

    I think you are right on that one, I took a closer look today. Old barrels are interesting in that they were the disposable packing container of the time period. Most were burned, those with iron hoops were salvaged for the blacksmith and the staves and heads burned. I feel fortunate that I found this one. I am sure there is some coffee boutique that would love to have this one.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — September 29, 2008 @ 5:10 pm

  3. Um, Stephen… weren’t you just saying the other day how you already have an unwieldy amount of ‘stuff’? 🙂


    Comment by Metalworker Mike — September 30, 2008 @ 3:43 am

  4. M.Mike,

    Yes, but I already had this barrel, it was sitting back in a corner of my shop, Now it is out and cleaned up, I will do a little restoration on it then sell it. Although it can hold a bunch of stuff, it is just too bulky to keep around.

    I didn’t need another chisel either but I bought a New Japanese Chisel at Wood Craft on Sunday to experiment with, so far so good. And I didn’t have a piece of Pink Ivory so I bought a chunk of that and then there was that nice slab of lignum vitae.

    My Name is Stephen and I have a problem.


    Comment by Stephen Shepherd — September 30, 2008 @ 5:39 am

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