What Is a Highboy Dresser: All You Need to Know about This Classic Furniture Piece

What Is a Highboy Dresser?

A highboy dresser, also known as a tallboy, is a type of double chest of drawers that originated in England in the late 1600s.

It is a chest-on-stand or chest-on-chest piece of furniture that typically consists of two separate sections.

The lower section features three drawers of the same size, while the upper section consists of a set of three smaller drawers on top.

The highboy dresser stands approximately seven feet tall and is characterized by its turned legs and wide molding cornice.

It often includes decorative brass handles and keyholes.

The highboy dresser is known for its elegance and provides ample storage space.

It is associated with the William and Mary style, which was popular during the reign of the co-monarchs of England from 1689 to 1702.

The Queen Anne style, influenced by French Rococo, also incorporated highboy dressers with carved finials and curved cabriole legs.

The highboy dresser remained popular in England and colonial America throughout the reign of Queen Anne from 1702 to 1714.

Key Points:

  • Highboy dresser is a tall double chest of drawers
  • Originated in England in the late 1600s
  • Consists of two separate sections: lower section with three drawers and upper section with three smaller drawers
  • Approximately seven feet tall with turned legs and wide molding cornice
  • Often includes decorative brass handles and keyholes
  • Associated with the William and Mary and Queen Anne styles

Did You Know?

1. The term “highboy” in relation to furniture originated in the 18th century and was derived from the British term “bibo,” meaning a tall drinking glass. Highboy dressers were named for their tall and slender design resembling the silhouette of this glass.
2. Highboy dressers are also known as tallboys or chest-on-chests. The name “tallboy” is derived from the Old English word “tallboi,” which means a chest of drawers on top of another. It accurately describes the structure of a highboy dresser, with a smaller chest of drawers sitting on top of a larger one.
3. What makes highboy dressers unique is their combination of a chest of drawers with a legged base. The lower section, also known as the lowboy, features four legs, while the upper section expands vertically and usually includes more drawers or a cabinet.
4. The highboy dresser became popular during the Queen Anne and Chippendale periods in Colonial America. These periods embraced a shift towards more elegant and refined furniture styles, which were characterized by the use of carved details, cabriole legs, and intricate hardware.
5. Highboy dressers were often used in bedrooms during the 18th century due to their functionality and storage capacity. They provided ample space to store clothing and personal items, while their vertical design allowed them to fit neatly into smaller rooms.

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1. Definition And Origin Of Highboy Dresser

The highboy, also known as a tallboy, double chest of drawers, or chest-on-stand, is a beloved furniture piece that originated in England in the late 1600s during the William and Mary style era. The term “highboy” is derived from the French word “bois,” meaning wood. It gained popularity in colonial America and has remained a staple in furniture design ever since.

  • The highboy is an elegant and versatile furniture piece.
  • It originated in England during the late 1600s.
  • The term “highboy” comes from the French word “bois,” meaning wood.
  • It gained popularity in colonial America.
  • The highboy has stood the test of time and remains a staple in furniture design.

“The highboy is a beloved furniture piece that has stood the test of time.”

Characteristics And Features Of Highboy Dressers

A highboy dresser is known for its tall and slim design, reaching up to seven feet in height. It consists of two parts: a base chest of drawers and a narrower chest of drawers placed on top. The lower section provides three drawers of the same size, offering ample storage space. On the upper section, there is a set of three smaller drawers, creating a visually pleasing composition.

Key design elements of highboy dressers include turned legs, which can be scroll-shaped or trumpet-shaped, adding elegance and sophistication to the piece. The highboy dresser often features a cornice, which is a wide molding that sits on top of the upper section. Some highboy dressers have an inserted slide shelf for extra convenience, while others have flat-fronted designs or serpentine-shaped versions, adding a touch of uniqueness to the piece.

Different Names For Highboy Dressers

The highboy dresser is a versatile furniture piece known by various names, including tallboy, double chest of drawers, chest-on-stand, and chest-on-chest. These names reflect the different characteristics and variations of this classic piece.

Key points about the highboy dresser:

  • It is a tall and elegant storage solution for clothing and other items.
  • The design typically includes a chest of drawers placed on top of a lower base or stand.
  • The height of the dresser provides ample storage space without taking up too much floor area.
  • It often features multiple drawers, offering organization and convenience.
  • The highboy dresser is commonly made of high-quality woods like mahogany or oak.
  • Its design and craftsmanship make it a popular choice for both traditional and modern interiors.
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The highboy dresser combines functionality with style, making it a timeless addition to any bedroom or living space.

So, in summary, the highboy dresser is a versatile and elegant furniture piece that offers ample storage and adds a touch of sophistication to any room.

  • Tall and elegant design
  • Chest of drawers on top of a lower base or stand
  • Ample storage space
  • Multiple drawers for organization
  • Made of high-quality woods
  • Suitable for traditional and modern interiors

Design Elements Of Highboy Dressers

Highboy dressers are recognized for their intricate design elements. One notable feature is the curved or swan-necked pediment, which crowns the top of some highboys, adding a graceful touch. Additionally, the highboy dresser often has curved ogee feet or S-shaped feet, which enhance the overall aesthetic appeal.

Decorative elements are also prominent in highboy dressers, including embellished brass handles and decorated keyholes. These details not only serve a functional purpose but also contribute to the overall visual appeal of the piece.

Highboy Dressers In Colonial America

During the late 17th and early 18th centuries, highboy dressers experienced a surge in popularity in colonial America. Often viewed as a status symbol and a sign of wealth, these tall, elegant pieces of furniture were widely desired by households throughout the colonies. The prevalence of highboy dressers in furniture collections of the time speaks to the strong influence of English design on American homes during this period.

Influence Of Queen Anne Style On Highboy Dressers

During Queen Anne’s reign in England and Scotland from 1702 to 1714, the Queen Anne style emerged, greatly influencing highboy dressers. This style is known for its elegance, simplicity, and refined curves. Highboy dressers incorporated Queen Anne design elements such as carved finials and curved cabriole legs, which enhanced their aesthetic appeal.

Additionally, the French Rococo style also had a significant impact on highboy dressers during the same period. This influence brought about a more ornate and decorative touch to the pieces, incorporating intricate carvings and exquisite details.

  • In summary, highboy dressers are a timeless furniture piece that originated in England during the late 1600s.
  • They have a tall and slim design, offering ample storage space.
  • Highboy dressers exhibit various design elements such as turned legs, cornices, and decorative handles.
  • They gained popularity in colonial America and were influenced by the Queen Anne and French Rococo styles.

The enduring appeal and classic elegance of highboy dressers make them a cherished addition to any home.

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Frequently Asked Questions

What makes a dresser a highboy?

A dresser is considered a highboy when it possesses a distinct height that sets it apart from other furniture pieces. Unlike conventional dressers, the highboy stands tall, often towering over seven feet. Its towering stature provides an elegant and grand presence that showcases its exceptional design and craftsmanship. With its commanding height, the highboy not only offers ample storage space but also becomes a statement piece that adds a touch of sophistication to any room.

What is the difference between a chest and a highboy?

While a chest is a low storage piece, a highboy is a tall chest of drawers consisting of two stacked case pieces. The term “highboy” is a colloquial expression used to refer to this type of furniture, which is also known as a “chest-on-chest” or a “chest-on-stand.” The key distinguishing factor between a chest and a highboy lies in their height and composition.

What is the difference between a tall boy and a dresser?

While both a tall boy and a dresser serve the purpose of storing clothes, their main difference lies in their height. Tall boys are intentionally designed to be taller than contemporary chests of drawers, allowing them to take up less floor space while providing additional storage at a height that may be less convenient for some individuals. If you find yourself in need of a storage solution that is taller than a standard chest of drawers, opting for a tall boy may be the ideal choice for you.

Why are they called tall boy?

The term “tall boy” originated from the distinct characteristic of these larger cans towering over their smaller counterparts, often referred to as “shorties.” These cans, also known as king cans or pounders, hold 24 ounces (710ml), surpassing the traditional standard of measure set at 16 ounces. As a result, the term “tall boy” emerged as a catchy and descriptive name for these elongated containers, distinguishing them from their shorter counterparts.

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