The word ‘dresser’ comes originally from the French ‘dressoir’ which literally means from where food is dressed for the table. It originates from medieval times where it was a number of cupboards situated beneath sets of shelves. The cupboards would store any plates or drinking cups and the shelves would outwardly present any gold or silver plate that the family owned.
It was during the 18th century that the whole became part of a superstructure which was permanently fixed together. Like the four poster bed, the dresser could be a status piece of furniture within the family that would be passed down through generations. Ironically, the wealthier the household the less impressive and prestigious the dresser. These houses would keep the dresser, which was for storage rather than show, in the service quarters of the house so it was often fairly plain in appearance. The merchant classes however would place their often quite elaborate dressers in their dining room; and in the working class cottage which often only had a single living room, the dresser would take pride of place. Thus there were many designs of dresser from all walks of life.
The most common wood used in the manufacture of dressers was oak, although pine and elm were also frequently used. The country style of dresser has continued to be made in its traditional form right through from its medieval beginnings to present day, existing in its simplicity alongside revolutions in fine walnut and mahogany cabinet making.
Fine examples of English antique dressers and its many regional variations can be found in dealerships in Lancashire and across the country.
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