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Toast rack
  • Toast rack
    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904
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Toast rack

  • Place of origin:

    Birmingham (made)
    London (designed)

  • Date:

    ca. 1880 (made)
    1878 (designed)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
    Hukin and Heath (maker)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Electroplated nickel silver

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    British Galleries, Room 125, Edwin and Susan Davies Gallery, case 1

This toast rack is a good example of the strikingly original metalwork designs of Christopher Dresser (1834-1904). Although it was made about 1880, its rigorous, stark form anticipates the modernist designs that began to emerge after the First World War (1914-18).
Dresser was perhaps the first independent industrial designer. During his long career he worked for a large and varied number of manufacturers and designed prolifically for many different media. In about 1878 he became art adviser to Hukin & Heath (founded 1855), a Birmingham firm that manufactured silver and electroplated goods. The firm specialised in novelty items for the luxury market and they were anxious to find a new direction. A report in the Furniture Gazette on 23 August 1879 marked Dresser’s arrival: ‘The Firm have secured the services [of Dr Dresser] in order to be reliable in point of design’. Dresser’s designs, such as this toast rack, were stamped with a facsimile of his signature in addition to the Hukin & Heath maker’s mark.

Physical description

Plain, rectangular platform resting on four peg feet which are the continuation of the upright posts at each corner. The uprights to hold the toast are a series ten plain rods, arranged in two rows of five, equidistantly along the two longer edges of the rectangular platform. At each corner, the pole is soldered to the platform while the middle three are riveted on the underside of the base. The handle is a tall, upright rod with a short cross bar soldered at right angles through a ring terminal at the top, the upright rod secured through the centre of the platform by a domed nut on the underside.

Place of Origin

Birmingham (made)
London (designed)


ca. 1880 (made)
1878 (designed)


Dresser, Christopher, born 1834 - died 1904 (designer)
Hukin and Heath (maker)

Materials and Techniques

Electroplated nickel silver

Marks and inscriptions

Manufacturer's mark of H&H and the falcon mark for Hukin and Heath.


The design resgistry mark (kite mark) for 9 October, 1878.

The serial number, scratched on the underside of the base: 13824


Height: 13.5 cm maximum, Length: 11 cm, Width: 8.3 cm

Object history note

Purchased at the sale of the CHRISTOPHER DRESSER METALWORK, THE ANDREW MCINTOSH PATRICK COLLECTION, Lyon & Turnbull, Edinburgh, 19 April 2005, Lot 1. for £4000 (hammer price).

Historical context note

Andrew McIntosh Patrick was the Managing Director of the Fine Art Society, 148 New Bond Street, London W1Y 0JT for 30 years until 2005. Between 1972 and 2005, he acquired a collection of metalwork designed by Dr. Christopher Dresser of approximately 50 pieces which until the sale of his collection by the Edinburgh auctioneers, Lyon & Turnbull on April 19, 2005, was the most distinguished collection of such material in either a public or private collection.

Descriptive line

Electroplated nickel silver, Birmingham ca.1880, made by Hukin & Heath, designed by Christopher Dresser, 1878

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Halén, Widar Christopher Dresser, London, Phaidon - Christie's, 1990 p.157 ill. ISBN 0714880582
Whiteway, Michael and Morello, Augusto eds. Christopher Dresser 1834-1904, Milan, Skira, 2001 pp.84-5 ill. ISBN 8884911028
Whiteway, Michael ed. The Shock of the Old, Christopher Dresser's Design Revolution, New York, Smithsonian, Cooper-Hewitt in association with V&A Publications, 2004, p.144 ill. ISBN 0810966581 (hbk) 0810966603 (pbk)
Whiteway, Michael Christopher Dresser A Design Revolution, London, Victoria and Albert Museum, 2004, p.144 ill. ISBN 18517744289

Labels and date

Toast rack, electroplate, registered 1881, The Andrew McIntosh Patrick Collection. [2004]

Production Note

Reason For Production: Retail


Silver; Nickel silver




Eating; Metalwork; Tableware & cutlery; Scotland

Production Type

Mass produced


Metalwork Collection

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