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The small wheels also were useful in moving heavier pieces small distances around the floor for cleaning purposes. Carpeting and area rugs have been in general use for most of this century so the floor thing is no longer a valid reason for wheels.
The truth is, I think, wheels just became a stylistic item with no real function other than to emulate earlier period styles.
When hand planes were used to smooth woods, they more often than not left some sort of uneven surface.One of the mysteries of the universe to me is “Why do so many 20th century pieces of furniture have wheels or casters on them?” A clue of sorts can be found in the generic name of many early 20th century items, those that are known as “Colonial Revival.” These pieces are modern replays of generally 18th century North American furniture originals, which in their own right often owe their existence to earlier European styles, but that’s another story.Stop and look at this exquisite 1890's gentleman's dresser. Seven drawers total, top drawer is a shallow, glove drawer with diamond escutcheon pulls. The Mirror is deeply beveled and can be tilted back and forth.The ornate hardware is alluring against the burled veneer drawer fronts. Flanking the Central Mirror are Long Beveled Side Mirrors.