The Welsh Dresser

Antiques Atlas
What is it about the Welsh dresser that appeals to us?

Hermitage On The Web
Helen Meserve of Running Battle Antiques answers that question perfectly:
"Why do we respond so emotionally to this one item? For starters, the Welsh dresser conjures up a romantic image of a simpler life more than two hundred years ago.... "

"a farmer’s cottage in Wales with a peat fire burning in the open hearth, a baby asleep in the cradle nearby, the husband sitting on a stool by a table finishing his gruel for breakfast while the wife stands before her high oak cupboard polishing every bit of pewter until it shines like silver, then rubbing the wood with beeswax to a fine patina."

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Carol Glasser's Welsh dresser (above) has inspired me for years. I'll never forget the first time I saw it in a magazine years ago. It spoke to me and I realized that it was precisely the kind of display that I wanted for my dish collection. I did not want my dishes behind glass!

I can't remember if I already had my pine Welsh dresser, or if seeing hers inspired me to find one of my own.
I have had this dresser for 20 years. It is a married piece, which contributes to the rusticness of it.

It is fun to change up the dishes on display, depending on the season or holiday.

I like to think about the history of this piece. Where did it come from?
England? Wales?
I hope Wales, where our son-in-law is from.
Secret: there is a pipe carved into the top of the hutch, signifying who the cabinet maker was.
Kind of like his trademark.

The Welsh dresser at home was a birthday gift from Mr. A.
It is a little finer that the pine one, but still quite rustic, due to the painted back.

There are carved acorns on it. I was told it came from Wales.
But maybe not. "Welsh" dresser is a misnomer as these were made in England, Scotland and Wales.
The Welsh pieces were more elaborate, while the English pieces were more simple.
Perhaps my pine dresser is English and my oak one is Welsh.

Either way, they most certainly conjure up images of a simpler, romantic time.

Wales was a poor country, so these cupboards were made to hold everything from food preparation to storage in the kitchen/diningroom/livingroom.
The top of the dresser displayed the family's prized pewter or china, while underneath, the mixing bowls and serving pieces were stored.

The Welsh dresser was made with whatever wood was available.
Pine, elm, but most were oak. No two were ever alike.

I look forward to visiting Wales someday.
Top on the list of places to visit will be the Museum of Welsh Life, just outside of Cardiff.
It's a living museum with cottages scattered amongst the gardens, each with Welsh dressers and other antiques from the 17th century.

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