1834 Dresser is born July 4 in Glasgow.
1847 He enters the Government School of Design, London, where he said he was “an earnest student of Oriental art.”
1853 His first fabric design—Ladies’ Smock for Liddiard & Co.—is manufactured and registered.
1854 He marries Thirza Perry, with whom he will eventually have thirteen children.
1855 He is appointed botany lecturer at the Government School of Design, where he lectures on botany and art botany until 1869.
1857–58 He writes a series of eleven articles for Art Journal called “Botany as Adapted to the Arts and Art Manufacturers.”
1858 He designs his first carpet for Jackson & Graham and his first wallpaper for Wm. Woollams.
1859 Jena University confers a standard doctorate on Dresser.
1861 He first publishes “Art of Decorative Design” as an article in The Building News.
1862 He publishes The Art of Decorative Design as well as Development of Ornamental Art in the International Exhibition, an analysis of design at the World’s Fair held in London that year. Dresser is designing for Minton.
1863 He lectures on Japan at the Architectural Association. He assists Owen Jones on the decoration (in situ) of the Oriental Courts at South Kensington.
1867 He creates designs for Wedgwood, cast iron for Coalbrookdale, and carpets for Brinton & Lewis. All are exhibited at the Paris Exposition of that year.
1869 He designs 158 silk damasks for Wards, Halifax, and 67 carpets for Brintons, Kidderminster.
1870 He designs the total interior decoration for Allangate, Halifax, including ceilings, stained glass, and almost all of the furniture. His Principles of Decorative Art [Design] begins as a series of articles in the Technical Educator.
1872 He begins designing for Benham & Froud.
1873 He publishes Principles of Decorative Design in book form, addressing it to workingmen.
1874 He designs Bushloe House, Leicester, for his solicitor, Hiram B. Owston.
1876 He publishes Studies in Design.
1876–77 He travels to the United States, where he visits the Centennial Exhibition in Philadelphia, retailers in Chicago, and San Francisco. He spends three months traveling and studying in Japan.
1877 He presents a collection of British Art-manufactures to Japan as the official representative of the South Kensington Museum, and he is appointed Official Advisor to the Japanese Government on Trade with Europe. One of at least two of his designs for cruets is posted to Hukin & Heath. He also applies for wallpaper design patents in the United States.
1879 Dixon & Sons first enters his metalwork in its workbooks. Linthorpe Art Pottery begins production. The Dresser and Holme Japanese art importer showroom opens.
1880 The Art Furnishers Alliance forms with Dresser as Art Superintendent. He is appointed editor of The Furniture Gazette.
1880–86 He designs for Old Hall Pottery.
1881 This is the only year for which some sketches of designs in his account books survive.
1882 He publishes Japan, Its Architecture, Art, and Art Manufactures, a detailed account of his remarkable visit of 1876–77.
1883 His Perry & Co. Kordofan candlestick design is registered. The Art Furnishers Alliance closes (possibly at the completion of Dresser’s contract) with very respectable sales figures of more than £25,000 over two years. Liberty & Co. expands and adopts a similar approach and range of goods.
1885 Annotated Dresser designs appear in the Elkington archive for the first time, though he may have worked for the firm since the early 1860s.
1886 He publishes Modern Ornamentation.
1888 The Clutha glass trademark is registered by James Couper & Sons.
1890 Ault Pottery produces Dresser’s designs from molds bought from the Linthorpe Art Pottery disposal sale.
1893 He signs a three-year contract with Ault.
1898 The Studio magazine describes him as “a pioneer” in several fields.
1904 He dies in his sleep while on a business trip to Mulhouse, France.