1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Dresser
|←Dress||1911 Encyclopædia Britannica, Volume 8
|See also Welsh dresser on Wikipedia, and our 1911 Encyclopædia Britannica disclaimer.|
DRESSER, in furniture, a form of sideboard. The name is derived from the Fr. dressoir, a piece of furniture used to range or dresser the more costly appointments of the table. The appliance is the direct descendant of the credence and the buffet, and is, indeed, a much more legitimate inheritor of their functions than the modern sideboard, which, as we know it, is practically an 18th-century invention. It developed into its present shape about the second quarter of the 17th century, and has since then changed but little. As a piece of movable furniture it was made rarely, if at all, after the beginning of the 19th century until the revival of interest in what is called “farmhouse furniture” at the very beginning of the 20th century led in the first place to the construction of many imitation antique dressers from derelict pieces of old oak, and especially from panels of chests, and in the second to the making of avowed imitations. The dresser conformed to a model which varied only in detail and in ornament. Its simple and agreeable form consisted of a long and rather narrow table or slab, with drawers or cupboards beneath and a tall upright closed-in back arranged with a varying number of shallow shelves for the reception of plates; hooks for mugs were often fixed upon the face of these shelves. Towards the end of the 17th century small cupboards were often added to the superstructure. The majority of these dressers were made of oak, but when, early in the Georgian period mahogany came into general use, they were frequently inlaid with that wood; holly and box were also used for inlaying, most frequently in the shape of plain bands or lines. A peculiarly effective combination of oak and mahogany is found in the dressers, as in other “farmhouse furniture,” made on the borders of Staffordshire and Shropshire. The excellence of the work of this kind in that district and in the country lying west of it may perhaps explain the expression “Welsh dresser,” which is now no more than a trade term, not necessarily suggestive of the place of origin, and applied to all dressers of this type. They are most frequently found in the houses of small yeomen and substantial farmers, into which fashion penetrated slowly. The dresser is now most familiar as necessary plenishing of the kitchen, in which it is invariably a fixture. In form it is essentially identical with the movable variety, but it is usually much larger, is made of deal or other soft wood, and the superstructure has no back.