A rare, early-18th century, oak, dressing chest of drawers with a box top

September 18, 2019 2:36 pm Published by

The box top with original hinges, moulded edge, and front re-entrant corners. The frieze with three long drawers, with original handles, locks and escutcheons, and faced with an applied moulding. The sides with moulded panels. Standing on stile feet. The drawers lined in oak, with a repair to one backboard. Excellent original colour and patina. English, second quarter of the 18th century. 4037852.

Reference : The lifting top with a well below, an arrangement characteristic of travelling coffers of an earlier date. The Dictionary of English Furniture , figure 10, page 31 for an earlier example.

This unusual and fine piece is stylistically extremely rare. It also has the added advantages of being in original condition and displaying excellent original colour and patina.

In his Complete Tradesman of 1726, Defoe states that the manufacture of chests of drawers was centralised in London, but oak specimens were also made, and among these some interesting archaic examples are found. This unusual and rare piece clearly illustrates his statement, incorporating both the 17th century box top and stile feet, at a time when the chest of drawers was becoming subordinated to commodes reflecting the craze for French fashions at the time.

Ordinary bedroom chests of drawers at this time exhibit no features that call for notice and, although simply decorated, were not illustrated in contemporary trade catalogues but undoubtedly were made by fashionable cabinet makers. Many of the top drawers were fitted with boxes, trays and small compartments affording greater facilities for the Georgian beauty than the small dressing tables of the time.

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