A Welsh dresser is a common piece of furniture used to store and display crockery, dishes, and silverware. In America is is more often referred to by the general terms sideboard or china hutch, although a Welsh dresser is actually a clever combination of the two. In some parts of the UK it might simply be called a dresser, or if one is in a precise mood, a high dresser.
From the 1400s on through the 1800s, the word 'dresser' generally referred to a table or sideboard which was used for 'dressing' (preparing) food before it was served. This dresser would hold the serving platters and utensils, and have a flat surface on which to set pots and dishes. In some cases a dresser might look like a modern American clothes dresser, but the more common design was essentially a tall table with a row of drawers beneath it. Many had a set of shelves above, for further storage and display.
A Welsh dresser most often has shelves, cabinets, or drawers below, and a large set of open-fronted shelves above. They are comparatively heavy-duty dressers, with lots of storage space and large open shelves to show off china platers, jugs, or other alluring kitchenware. They are not identified by a uniform design, however, but rather because they were considered an important part of life in Wales. In the 1600s and 1700s a large dresser might serve as a centerpiece of a small farmhouse, containing and displaying a significant part of a family's finery. A dresser was often considered an essential part of a woman's dowry, and as you might expect, fine dressers were much in demand. Welsh dressers were generally more ornate and better crafted than were English dressers at the time, simply because there was more of a market for flashy dressers in Wales.
In modern times, of course, nice Welsh dressers can be manufactured in any part of the world, and even if you go shopping for an antique Welsh dresser, you might well end up with one crafted in Yorkshire or Shropshire. Welsh dressers are simply a generic term for a large, nice-looking sideboard with shelves.
In the Welsh language a Welsh dresser is called a Tridarn, and may still be referred to as such today. The Cwpwrdd Tridarn, or 'three-part cupboard', is commonly used to refer to a specific type of Welsh dresser which has a set of large cabinets beneath, a set of smaller cabinets in the center, and a display shelf above.