MANLY ANTIQUE CENTRE
USED IN THE WATER DIVINER
This is a rare piece to find in Australia and because of this fact it was hired by the set decorators
who worked on the latest Russell Crowe film The Water Diviner(which we believe to be excellent
haven't had a chance to see it yet but are looking forward to it).
Apparently they required an impressive and old display piece for I think the Turkish side of the film and were
having difficulties finding something suitable until they saw our gorgeous dresser and Bingo! a star was born.
You can see the right side of it in an 'on-set' photo on ABC's web page for The Final Cut dated 18 December 2014.
Our Welsh dresser dates to the last quarter of the 18th century (about when Australia was 'discovered').
The previous owners were collectors of 18th century oak furniture and purchased it from one of
the premier Antiques Dealers in Sydney in the 1970s and had it in their home from then til recently.
We were fortunate enough to acquire a number of items from them when they downsized but this
fabulous dresser was definitely the pick of the litter.
The base has had restoration work done to it over the centuries to keep it in functional condition,
particualarly the three large drawers which look to have had most of their secondary timbers replaced
at some point and most likely the handles have been replaced as well - very few pieces like this
that were used all day everyday survive to this day with their original handles.
Although not in absolutely original condition for something that is 250ish years old, its pretty good.
Made from English Oak and usually referred to as a Welsh Dresser because they originated in Wales
but most of the UK produced their own version of these very functional and fashionable dressers for their homes
through most of the 1700s and well into the 1800s.
We feel this dresser was a country-made piece rather than an upmarket London version.
It's non-stardard design and the crossing banding on the drawers using the same timber as
carcass are both reasons we think its a country piece. Most London based cabinet-makers would
have used a more expensive timber for the cross-banding, probably Mahogany, to offset the oak.
It also has a unique configuration of compartments and drawers so we surmise it was a made to order
job for someone's specific requirements.
It is it's row of small drawers in the base of the plate rack section with a the small central
cupboard dividing these drawers that makes it stand out from the 'standard' dresser design.
These unusual features not only increase it functionality but looks great too.
The drawers could well have been for spices and the small cupboard, which had a lock in it
once upon a time, was probably the Tea Caddy so their precious stash of tea wasn't pilfered
by 'the help' as tea was a very expensive luxury item at this point in time.
The quirky mix of decorative styles also reflects it's country-cousin origins.
The mix of a very formal Dental molding on the pelmet and the lovely detail of
cross banding around the drawers are non-essential elements that added cost to the purchaser.
In combination with these formal design elements is the far less formal (but lovely) shaped canopy
just below the dental molding which is pine and stained to match the rest of the dresser
(using pine here would have been a cost and labour saving decision).
The secondary timbers in the drawers and backboards are also pine, standard practice to keep costs down.
Overall a rare, fine Georgian oak piece perfect to display whatever you wish but looks fab covered
with china, old pewter or brass items or whatever you like really.
Its nice to think it possibly started life in South Wales and ended up in New South Wales.
It measures 198cm wide and 230cm high.
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