Folk Victorian Dresser?

by John Werry on May 20, 2008

folk victorian dresser Folk Victorian Dresser?

Without digging out every book in my library, I have not run into any materials that help me identify and date this particular piece. The seller is describing this as Folk Victorian but none of my books document this style of furniture. It is obviously 19th century, but the C-scrolls, finials and bracket feet are throwing me for a loop.  Any wisdom out there on where to find out more about this style of furniture?  More pics at the listing.

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

1881victorian May 21, 2008 at 8:42 am

It sure looks like the maker put a little bit of everything into that dresser. My first guess was that it might be a transitional empire/rococo piece, but the little spoon carvings & the base (in general) looks more 1870s than 1850. Also, the narrow vertical supports that join the “big top” to the “big bottom” (at the mirror pivots) do look pretty “folkish”.

My best guess is 1880s and home-made. I wouldn’t be surprised if the maker married a lot of pieces together (rococo c-scrolls, turned finials at the shoulders & top, etc) to come up with this unconventional (yet more or less balanced) form. Looks like a 1870s drop-well dresser for a base with some applied c-scrolls and maybe even applied half-turnings from another pieve around the narrow dresser drawers. The mirror (by itself) is non-descript. Everything (or pieces/components) above the narrow dresser drawers looks like it might be from a sideboard (?). Seems strange to see scalloped candle shelves on an otherwise rectilinear piece (those shelves look like pieces from an etagere or sideboard).

If it isn’t a collection of pieces, then it was a very interesting “vision” that the maker brought into being. I don’t think that you will find this in a reference book. For unknown reasons I get a bit of a Swedish-immigrant vibe from the overall design…it looks kind of like Upper Peninsula Michigan rosemaling come to life.

– Jason

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drew49 May 21, 2008 at 11:49 am

This is an interesting piece. It is plausible that it is a one-off piece as 1881 victorian suggests. Another possibility is that it is possibly a one-off by a Canadian builder or could it even be Estonian?

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1881victorian May 21, 2008 at 4:53 pm

…just thinking a bit about rosemaling…you have a lot of Dutch in PA…maybe this piece has some Dutch-immigrant taste that drove its overall design.

I’d still wager that it is a one-off piece (maybe one of two or three, depending on whether or not the kids & neighbors really wanted one).

– Jason

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1836 May 22, 2008 at 4:00 pm

Another vote for an 1880s assemblage based on the latest of its features: the folksy carving to the left and right of the mirror and in the strange carving at the top (an unlikely combination of an exuberant American Classical headboard crossed with the florid late 19thC applied C-scroll and foliate motives seen in Sears Roebuck grades of golden oak furniture.)

It’s a piece that wants a looking at in the flesh to see how it fits together. The drawer fronts are interesting, with the richly figured mahogany or exceptional walnut, the fine cockbeading, and then the rather late Federal clipped corner raised panels all in contrast to the clunky, elephant ear carved applied pulls (notched to shove them against the wood escutheons, as necessary), all raising the question of whether an earlier piece was salvaged for a later, more fanciful vision. It would be interesting to look for evidence of earlier pulls, and also to see if the wood at the upper part of the piece really is reddish whereas the woods on the base look much browner. And why is the top to the four drawer base articulated as three pieces?

With so much variety in the appearance and quality of its parts, it’s a curious pastiche of things.

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