Boy oh Boy: Lowboys and Tallboys (and Highboys)

Mackinnon Tallboy versus Lowboy

Different types of furniture often have interesting names: Pembroke tables, wake tables, hope chests, Windsor chairs, grandfather clocks… the list goes on.  Today we are looking at two distinctly English forms of furniture: the lowboy and the tallboy.

A George II Mahogany Tallboy Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A George II Mahogany Tallboy
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A tallboy is a double chest of drawers, or a wardrobe on a chest of drawers.  (In the US, the chest on chests are often referred to as highboys and wardrobe on chests are referred to as tallboys, but the English typically refer to both types of furniture as tallboys).  Tallboys can feature different types of feet, some more pronounced than others, such as the cabriole legs that were popular on Queen Anne walnut examples.  Tallboys first appeared in England in the late 17th century and remained popular throughout the 18th century.

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A George II Mahogany Tallboy
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

The mahogany tallboy shown above dates to the mid-Georgian period and features a secretaire in the lower section.  The piece stands on bold cabriole legs with carved hairy paw feet.

A George I Burr Walnut Lowboy Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A George I Burr Walnut Lowboy
Mackinnon Fine Furniture Collection

A lowboy, unsurprisingly, differs mainly in height from the tallboy: it stands at normal table height and features drawers beneath the table-top surface.  Lowboys of the 18th century were often made in oak, walnut, or mahogany and typically featured brass pulls and cabriole legs.  The George I burr walnut lowboy shown above is a very fine and rare example of this form.  It features a quarter veneered herringbone-inlaid and crossbanded top with moulded edge and re-entrant corners.  The series of drawers feature the original brass escutcheons and pendant drop handles, and the piece stands on cabriole legs.

We will cover other types of furniture in future blog posts–be sure to send us any requests of specific types you would like to see!

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