Tallboy - Encyclopedia




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TALLBOY (partly a translation and partly a corruption of the French hautbois), a double chest of drawers. Whereas the chest of drawers in its familiar form (sometimes in the 18th century called a "lowboy") contains three long and two short drawers, the tallboy has five, six, or seven long drawers, and two short ones. It is a very late 17th-century development of the smaller chest. The early examples are of walnut, but by far the largest proportion of the many that have survived are of mahogany, that being the wood most frequently employed in the r8th century for the construction of furniture, especially the more massive pieces. Occasionally the walnut at the beginning of the vogue of the tallboy was inlaid, just as satinwood varieties were inlaid, depending for relief upon carved cornice-mouldings or gadrooning, and upon handsome brass handles and escutcheons. The tallboy was the wardrobe of the r8th century, but it eventually gave place to the modern type of wardrobe, which, with its sliding drawers, was speedily found to be not only as capacious as its predecessor but more convenient of access. The topmost drawers of the tallboy could only be reached by the use of bed steps, and the disappearance of high beds and the consequent disuse of steps exercised a certain influence in displacing a characteristic piece of furniture which was popular for at least a century.

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