Saturday, March 14, 2009

Word of the Day: COMMODE

This is an essential and commonly misused word in antiques.

A COMMODE (pronounced "kuh MODE") is a low "chest of drawers" that typically has two or three drawers, and may or may not have a marble top.

A commode is not a toilet. Trust me, I once rushed into an antique shop and whispered : "I REALLY need to use your commode NOW". It all got very ugly.

This is a commode (18th c. Italian polychrome):

List price: $62,350 USD

A commode is also not a "dresser" or a "bureau" (those mean something else and I'll get to those in my next post).

Sidenote: OK, so if commode is a low chest of drawers, then what's a high chest of drawers called? That's called a highboy (in the U.S,) or a tallboy (in England). It's complicated and gets more so because it's also called a "chest on a chest" or a "chest on a stand" but let's cover that another time.

Hey Buzz, I'm confused (well join the club). If there's a different word for a tall commode, then is there a different word for a mini-me commode? Actually yes, in the antique trade, people call a small commode a bedside cabinet, night stand, bedside table, or, if it's a small Italian commode, then it's termed a "commodino."

Here's an 18th c. Italian commodino:
List price: $49,200 USD

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