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In Furniture, what is a Highboy?

By Sheri Cyprus
Updated May 16, 2024
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A highboy is a tall chest of drawers that is usually made in two separate pieces. The bottom piece is much like a lowboy, a short chest of two or three drawers with long legs. The upper part of a highboy has drawers that vary in size and number depending on the piece. The name highboy is from the French bois, meaning wood and haut, meaning high. The type of wood and style used for highboys varies.

Colonial style highboys may have eight or more drawers. They were often made of cherry and the top section may be slightly narrower than the bottom. The William and Mary style is one of the earliest American highboys. The legs on these highboys are often less curved than those on later highboys.

The Queen Anne highboy was very popular in the Early American period of the mid-18th century. These highboys were often made from mahogany and elegantly carved. The drawers were usually flat fronted and featured many ornamental brass drawer pulls. Many Queen Anne highboys had cabriole, or curved legs. They also often had a bonnet top made of added arches of wood on the top of the highboy, usually featuring carved posts in the design.

A highboy may be called a chest-on-chest or a double chest. In the United Kingdom (UK) it may be referred to as a tallboy. While some highboys feature drawers all the same length, many have an assortment of drawer lengths. Some highboys even have drawers of different depths such as two deeper drawers near the bottom of the piece.

A Shaker style highboy is, in keeping with the Shaker style of furniture, quite unembellished with straight lines. It is more like an armoire, or tall shelving unit with doors, as it often doesn't have legs and usually has cupboard doors near the top of the piece. A Shaker highboy may also be made in one piece like an armoire and unlike the other types of highboys. Drawers of different lengths may be featured near the bottom of most Shaker style highboys.

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