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Rare Toast Rack, circa 1880
manufactured by James Dixon & Sons, Sheffield, Yorkshire, England
electroplated metal, ebony
impressed with manufacturer’s facsimile signature Chr. DRESSER, model number 963 AN, electro-plated assay mark EP, maker’s ‘trumpet and banner’ mark and initials J D & S
3 ¼ in. (8.3 cm) high; 3 ¾ in. (9.5 cm) wide; 10 ¼ in. (26 cm) deep
Private collection, Yorkshire
Acquired from the above by the present owner, circa 2005
W. Halén, Christopher Dresser: A Pioneer of Modern Design, London, 1993, p. 184 pl. 210
W. Halén, Christopher Dresser, 1990, p. 184, pl. 210
M. Whiteway, Shock of the Old: Christopher Dresser's Design Revolution, 2004, p. 155, pl. 193
H. Lyons, Christopher Dresser: The People's Designer 1834-1904, p. 7 no. 6

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Alex Heminway
Alex Heminway

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Lot Essay

Christopher Dresser creative career developed in the second half of the 19th Century, a time dominated by the popular and widely spread Victorian style. In stark contrast with the taste of his time Dresser used his sensibility to elevate everyday objects, creating forms characterised by smooth, clean geometric volumes, combined or repeated to obtain striking, graphic designs well ahead of the time. Dresser was a firm believer that an industrial designer “should be an artist in every sense of the word, yet he should be a utilitarian also. He should be able to perceive the utmost delicacies and refinements of artistic forms, yet he should value that which is useful for the very sake of its usefulness.” The sublimely designed objects, which may appear to be simplistic in their construction are in fact rigorously designed to pursue perfectionism in both form and execution. Christopher Dresser’s radical works maintain to the present day their eternal original quality and iconic identity, still unequalled in elegance and sophistication, and the designer celebrated as one of the first and most influential designers of the last centuries.
Beautifully executed by James Dixon & Sons, with which Christopher Dresser started collaborating with in early 1870s, the present lot toast rack was produced, as many of his works, in extremely limited examples, made to order. The design was developed at the end of the 1879s after Christopher Dresser’s return from his travels to Japan, which are now recognised as one of the main influential events in his career. Of the present lot design only three examples are known to exist today; one is part of the permanent collection of the National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne; another example, exhibited in recent years, is believed to be currently held in a private collection; and the present lot.

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