Here we have a piece of furniture called a Tallboy. We’d love to know why they’re called Tallboys but that can wait. Anyway this is a well preserved example of a style of furniture called Utility Furniture. This piece is about 75 years old. In Britain during the Second World War many people lost their homes & the home’s entire content including furnishings to enemy bombing. And amongst other privations there was a shortage of timber. This was caused by two main factors. These were a severe curtailment of timber imports and the use of timber for military purposes. The government realised that the deprived populous urgently needed replacement furniture and thus developed the Utility Furniture program. A range of furniture that used less timber was developed by top designers of the time. These designs were then made available for use to furniture manufacturers nationwide. The range of Utility Furniture was the only one that could be manufactured. It was ‘bought’ from a catalogue by people who had a demonstrable need with coupons.
Interestingly many of the traditional construction techniques that had been used prior to Utility Furniture were still used on it. We can see on this drawer side dovetail jointing. Contemporary furniture tends to use mechanical fixings. You’ll also note the use of dark stain which would hide the true lighter colour of the real timber. This was necessitated because, in general, the public believed dark hardwoods made for ‘better’ furniture.