Every auction has at least one item that stands out above the rest, our upcoming auction on Friday, January 29th is unique for the number of outstanding items. Take for example the Six drawer side lock chest of drawers (more commonly called a dresser) which is in wonderful condition for its 130+ years and a beautiful piece in its own right. The chest is designed in the late Victorian style called Eastlake or Cottage style, which highlighted geometric ornaments, spindles, low relief carvings, and incised lines which was all designed to be affordable and easy to clean. The style was named after Charles Eastlake, who in 1868 published his book “Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery and other Details”, which was very influential in Britain, and later in the United States, where the book was published in 1872.
The interesting thing about this dresser is the unique locking mechanism which flank the 6 drawers and act like architectural pillars in the over all design. This hinged locking mechanism allows for the front of the drawers to be unblemished with the addition of keyholes in the central shields of each drawer, and also means that the user only had to unlock two locks instead of six (one for each drawer). This was very clever, like having one password to open your phone which then unlocks every app. Which comes to the question, why have locks on the dresser in the first place? Well, in the late Victorian age, every respectable household employed at least one servant, and many employed more than one, and as the number of servants increased, so did the risk of potential theft. The beauty of this design meant the owner of the chest only had to unlock two locks to get into the contents of the drawers, and then correspondingly lock up two locks when they were finished. Pure genius, which along with the unblemished face of the drawers adds up to one beautiful piece of furniture.