Until the mid-19th century, the standard chest had either four long, or three long and two short drawers. Rarely were there any exceptions to this rule. A chest with three drawers, or a series of small upper drawers, purporting to be Georgian, will probably have been converted from a chest-on-chest or tallboy. It is true that the 18th century commode often contain two long deep drawers, but this was a much grander and more decorative piece altogether, intended for drawing rooms, not bedrooms, and in any case was usually made to stand on legs. The standard chest of drawers continued to be made throughout the 19th and early 20th centuries (some Edwardian pine chests even had bracket feet), but variations were introduced during the mid-Victorian period, with some chests having seven or more drawers usually a deep hat drawer and smaller glove compartments. Chests with barley-sugar twist or split bobbin-turned supports date from the mid-19th century.
Learn about Wellington Chest
This type of chest was first seen in the 1820's and is characterised by their tall narrow shape, and usually with a locking flap on one side, which when closed, prevents any of the drawers from opening. They continued to be made in the Victorian period in mahogany, walnut and rosewood. Some had a fitted secretaire occupying two drawer heights, but these are not considered as desirable as the all-drawer model. Due to their compact size, Wellington chests are keenly sought and command high prices. Because of the price differential, be aware that some secretaire versions may have been converted back to full-drawer models, the give-away being the new drawer linings in two of the drawers. Wellington chests were also made in Continental Europe, and these are usually in decorative timbers, with gilt metal mounts, without a side locking flap.
Victorian mahogany Wellington chest, the rectangular top above a bank of seven drawers within moulded pilasters with truss capitals, one side lockable, raised on a plinth base, height 110 cm width 53 cm depth 42.5 cm
A small 19th century English rosewood Wellington chest, six graduated drawers, plain design with carved corbels and small turned wood handles. Minor faults and lock and key missing. 58 cm x 36 cm x 180 cm
A Victorian cedar secretaire Wellington chest. Later 19th century, the chest with six drawers of differing depths, one with a faux front serving as a fold down writing plane and concealing two half width drawers and four pigeon holes, with acanthus carved
A fine mahogany Wellington chest, 19th century, the seven drawer chest having a plain extended top above seven full width drawers of graduating depth and supported on a plinth base, with a lockable vertical hinged flap, decorative corbels and turned knob h
A Victorian mahogany secretaire Wellington chest c.1870-1880. The chest has six drawers, with two interior half size drawers. The third drawer has a pull-out secretaire hinged front, with tooled leather writing surface. Height 118 cm; width 61 cm; Depth 41
A Victorian mahogany miniature Wellington chest, seven drawers, turned wood knobs, on plinth base, drawers all locked in place by a hinged panel to both sides, one panel with lock and key. 37.5 x 26 x 51 cm
An Australian cedar Wellington style chest, circa 1850, of unusual proportions, the rectangular top above four short and three long graduated drawers with turned handles and brass escutcheons, raised on later bun feet, 67 cm wide, x 41 cm deep x, 109 cm hi
A fine quality Victorian figured walnut table top small Wellington chest, the four full width drawers with small bun handles, mahogany lining and adjustable sections, locked by the traditional vertical right hinged panel with fine ebony moulding, matching
A Victorian rosewood secretaire wellington chest, labelled A. Lenehan, the rectangular top above a short drawer, full front double drawers enclosing a writing slide, pigeon holes and two short satinwood veneered drawers with ivory handles, above three furt
Two Louis XVI style mahogany Wellington chests, circa 1890 the rectangular top with thumbnail edge and three quarter brass gallery above a dentil moulded freize and eight graduated drawers flanked by fluted pillasters, raised on square tapering feet. Width
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