Chest of Drawers as a piece of furniture occupies a important place in people’s hearts.
In fact generations were raised with the expression “top drawer” to indicate things of the best quality or provenance, as well as “bottom drawer” is referring to a young woman’s collection of napery, silver or bedclothes that she would use after wedding.
The History of Antique Chests
Like other furniture, chests are adapted to changing tastes, styles and techniques of makers through the 17th century to the 19th century that spans the reigns of a dozen monarchs. The first examples show the influence of continental Europe that was prevalent during the period of Charles II (1660-1685) after the restoration of the monarchy. They reflect the final flourishes of English Baroque. It was during this time that we see the transition from joining to cabinetmaking.
Charles II brought artisans from Europe who brought continental techniques that utilized readily available woods like pine and oak for the carcass. They after that, they veneered it with the finer walnut, or similar wood, often with marquetry panels.
The chest of oak is enhanced by yew wood bands and pieces of hardwood species laid out in a geometric design. It could have been constructed in two pieces to facilitate the ease of transport and mobility in a house and could be delivered to a manor home or similar.
The antique chest of drawers are built with large sides that can accommodate the runners on the sides and big nails to keep them together, with the bottom also attached.
Within a quarter of century, changes in the furniture industry were evident also, and as we progress through the reigns of William and Mary (1689-1702) and on to the reign the reign of Queen Anne (1702-1714) what a difference! things have changed.
Chests on stands were removed from popularity and were replaced with chests on chests or tallboys.
They generally included a cornice that was flat, and a mid moulding that covered up the gap between two sections, which were separate in the upper and lower. Utilizing veneers has been a norm for furniture made from cabinetry and the bulkiness in the drawers was diminished to a sleeker design which was decorated by designs of veneers, instead of mouldings that were applied and panels.
The most typical example of the change is the Queen Anne period chest with the patterns using oyster veneers of laburnum. This is because when two successive cuts made from the branches were laid in a book-like in a book-like fashion, the pattern made resembles the inner marks of an oyster. Straight feet from the corner stiles in the earlier chest were replaced by bun feet that were turned, with drawer sides that were previously nailed which are now secured by dovetailed joints.
The change also occurred in the way that the drawer’s bottom was held. In the past, it was secured using clout nails top boards have been cut into the sides, back and the front of the drawer thus, the bottom edges function as runners.
In the 18th century, around mid-century, French Rococo pieces, featuring a bulbous shape of wavy fronts and sides known as bombe chests were popular. In England we frequently see huge, elaborately decorated and carved serpentine commodes presses, or chests, in a variety of designs, including Chippendale’s Director, as well as Ince along with Mayhew’s creations however, in this case we are seeing the more light-hearted appearance that is typical of George Hepplewhite or Shearer’s designs.
English examples of the time were less slack and had a simple front.
In the middle of the 1800s, it was more common to have the grain on the bottom of the drawer to extend from side to side instead of from the traditional front-to-back layout that it used to be. Cockbeading, which is a thin lip on the front of the drawer was a well-loved moulding that was popular in the 1760s.
The Age of Mahogany
The next technological advancement was the drawer bottoms that were able to slide in from the rear of the drawer, in an opening that was cut in the side. The transition from mahogany to walnut slowly took place.
In around 1730, the mahogany had been becoming increasingly exported from the Caribbean and was accompanied by more varieties of exotic woods coming from South America.
The chest dates back to in the 3rd quarter century This straight-fronted chest is decorated with the top of the crossed with rosewood, adding the cache. It also do a pull-out brushing slide beneath the top, and over the drawer on top. Bun feet have been replaced with bracket feet, with modern swan neck handles.
Its purpose, whether it was for an office or reception space isn’t clear however the fast-growing consumer demand for durable furniture of high quality was immense, and there were centers of excellence in manufacturing located in numerous cities.
The Secretaire Chest
As we move closer to 19th-century, I’m impressed by the creativity of artisans. Employing hand tools and candles they were able to insert a myriad of characteristics into an item.
This would’ve made delight to hear the conversation between patron and maker during George III’s reign , maybe requesting the purchase of a chest, but also needing a space to write within it too. This was not a bureau not an actual chest!
So the cabinet of secretaire drawers came into existence. It was a combination of both needs and features the top drawer featuring an opening that opens on hinges to reveal the writing surface lined with leather, an arrangement of drawers with satinwood veneers as well as pigeon holes in the back. The drawers were positioned on delicate, splayed brackets that were joined by a bow-shaped Apron. The obround-shaped veneer panels look extremely attractive and establish the date of the last decade of the 18th century.
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