Toast rack

Designer: Christopher Dresser (British, Glasgow, Scotland 1834–1904 Mulhouse)

Manufacturer: for firm of Hukin & Heath (British, Birmingham, 1855–1953)

Date: 1881

Culture: British, Birmingham and London

Medium: Silver plate

Dimensions: Overall: 5 × 6 3/4 × 4 in., 0.7 lb. (12.7 × 17.1 × 10.2 cm, 0.2948kg)

Classification: Metalwork-Silverplate

Credit Line: Gift of Robert L. Isaacson, 1985

Accession Number: 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.