Interesting side-lock dresser discovered
By Dr. Anthony Cavo
Most people cringe when they enter a home that is crowded with years of collected furnishings, knick-knacks, carpets, and textiles donning a protective layer of dust.
Collectors and lovers of everything antique, however, are not most people – they are a unique breed who thrive in just such a milieu. When you open a nineteenth century drop-front desk to find fifty Victorian glass shoes, inkwells, and assorted fountain pens or rummage through bookcases filled with Canton Ware or shoe boxes filled with antique costume jewelry no amount of dust or creepiness will deter you.
In just such a house I recently encountered a gem in the furniture world.
This side-lock dresser, also known as a Wellington Chest by more seasoned antique collectors and dealers, is quite an interesting piece of furniture. They were dubbed Wellington Dressers after Arthur Wellesley, first duke of Wellington who reportedly had a side-lock chest he carried on his military campaigns.
They are also known as “boarding house dressers” because the side lock could protect the contents from residents of some of the less respectable residences. The term side-lock dresser or chest is probably the most accurate, if not descriptive, name for these pieces. The number of drawers range from six to twelve and some were produced in the United States but most are English in origin.
This particular side-lock chest is made of walnut with walnut burlwood panels. It has heavy, decorative brass pulls and the top opens to reveal a mirror; the mirror is cloudy and elbow hinge is in need of repair otherwise this piece is in good condition.
Twenty years ago these chests could easily sell in the $2,000 range; however, today, prices vary on these pieces, which sell in the $800 to $1,200 range depending on the region and venue in which it is offered.