The antique dresser was a piece of furniture that in its history has been more generally owned rather than a piece purely for the wealthy elite. From country cottages to terraces and townhouses, anybody who entertained would own a dresser, where their most treasured possessions were put on display.
The piece was medieval in its origins and its name comes from ‘dressoir’, and it was from here that food was dressed for the table. It appeared in its more common form during the 17th and18th centuries when cupboards and shelves were brought together to form the dresser.
Ironically the finest of antique dressers were usually owned by people further down the social scale. In large country houses, utilitarian versions of the dresser were kept out of general view in the kitchens. However in the houses of farmers and merchants, the dresser was prominently placed in the dining room, and in small cottages, it was the main piece in the house.
Unlike fine case furniture, the dresser remained less affected by changing styles although there were a variety of features utilised in its construction. They also tended to be made mainly from oak instead of walnut or mahogany although many pine dressers were also made. The ‘Welsh dresser’ tends to have open bases and shelving where northern built dressers had backboards. However revival pieces don’t necessarily stick to these definitions and Victorian taste also produced many historical pastiches of this traditional piece of furniture.
Dressers are still popular today and are able to provide useful storage and display in modern homes. When looking for dressers and antique cabinets, Lancashire dealers provide a good selection of pieces.
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