Christopher Dresser (British, 18341904)
Silver plate; H. 4 5/16 in. (11 cm)
Gift of Robert L. Isaacson, 1985 (1985.311)
This toast rack, or letter rack, implicitly demonstrates Dresser's mission to create easily manufactured, functional, and novel designs. He was also interested in making affordable yet well-designed products for the growing consumer market. Constructed from a series of simply produced elements with exposed rivets, the toast/letter rack could be easily manufactured and its electroplated silver surface appealed to the middle-class pocketbook.
Founded in 1855, the silversmith and electroplating firm of Hukin & Heath in Birmingham sought to improve business by hiring Christopher Dresser as art advisor around 1878. While the company's records were destroyed in the 1950s, Dresser's designs for Hukin & Heath survive as they were registered with the Patent Office. The company continued to manufacture Dresser's designs through the end of the century.