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Sarasota antiques Buying Selling Resource Library
A list of words used to help understand the item you are trying to sell.


abattant

French term for "drop lid" or "fall front" as in an abattant secretary

 


acanthus

Stylized carving of the acanthus leaf commonly used to decorate furniture.


Adam Brothers

Robert 1728-1792 and James 1730-1794 were English architects, influenced by the excavations at Pompeii in the 18th century. Characteristics of their style are straight lines,mythological figures, delicate ornaments, classical symmetry, satinwood, marquetry, and inlay.


agate

A form of quartz mineral with a strongly banded composition in which each layer differs in color and translucency. Colors range from reds, browns and yellows to greens, bluish white and white. Used for making jewelry, cameos, and in decorative objets d'art.


alabaster

Generally translucent and white or grey in color, alabaster is a form of the mineral gypsum which can be polished to a smooth and waxy finish. Often used in sculpture, decorative stone panelling, beads, and cabochons.


amboyna

A type of wood native to Southeast Asia typically orange or reddish-brown with a curled and mottled grain. Used for veneers and furniture.


amphora

A large, two-handled earthenware vessel with a narrow neck and usually an ovoid body, originally used in Greece for the storage of grain. Later adopted as a Neoclassical decorative motif.


andirons

Functional supports of cast iron or brass used in open fireplaces to hold logs.


anthemion motif

The classically inspired anthemion, or honeysuckle motif, originated with Greek and Roman architecture and was used extensively on furnishings and decorative arts of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is marked by a stylized flower design of scrolling or radiating form. Famous furniture makers and designers including Gillows of Lancaster, Thomas Sheraton and George Hepplewhite incorporated this motif in their furniture designs.


apothecary jars

Cylindrical or oval shaped covered jars either of glass or china, designed for the storage of medicinal herbs. Some are presently converted to lamp bases or used as ornaments. Also called pharmacy jars.


applied decoration

Relief decoration typically applied to the surface of a ceramic. Often used by Wedgwood to adorn their jasper wares.


apron

A board placed at right angles to the underside of a shelf, chair seat, or table top.


Arabesque

An ornamentation consisting of an interlacing design of foliage, usually designed for a vertical panel, with the sides resembling each other.


arcading

Carved architectural ornament suggesting arches. Often used on chair-backs and applied on panels.


armoire

A movable wardrobe, usually with one or two doors, originating in late 16th century France.


Art Deco

Period from 1925 to about 1935 when designers were influenced by simple geometric patterns.


Art Nouveau

Period from 1889 to 1925 associated with a curvilinear swing design. Inspired by plant and animal forms in nature and frequently incorporating the figure of women.


ash

A highly figured hardwood having a variety of shades from a grayish hue to deep brown. Used chiefly in structural concealed portions of furniture.


assaying

The process in which a piece is examined to determine the amount of precious metal contained. This examination is conducted at a legally appointed assayer's office to insure compliance with legal standards and the piece is officially stamped or hallmarked upon completion.


Aubusson

Flat, tapestry-woven coverings named for the French manufactory in Aubusson, established in 1664. Aubusson fabrics are highly-regarded and of exceptional quality.


ball-and-claw foot

A furniture foot cut to imitate a talon or claw grasping a ball. Of Chinese origin, the motif was greatly used in English 18th-century furniture.


baluster

Turned vase-shaped vertical post supporting the rail of a staircase or splat of a chair.


banding

Strip of veneer used as a border for table tops, drawer fronts, etc.


Baroque

A style of architecture, art and decoration which originated in Italy during the late 16th century and spread throughout Europe. It is characterized by overscaled, bold details and sweeping curves.


Barye, Antoine-Louis

French sculptor and painter of animal subjects, who became a primary figure in the Romantic movement along with his contemporary Eugene Delacroix. Barye received a medal from the Salon in 1831 for Tiger Devouring a Gavial and his talents paved the way for future bronze sculptors, including his student Auguste Rodin. Barye was also an innovative bronze craftsman developing new techniques of casting, chiselling and patination which became the cornerstone of modern bronze work.


Bateman, Hester

(1709-1794) London silversmith who took over the family business after the death of her husband in 1760, transforming the small workshop into a hugely successful enterprise. Possessing exceptional skill and taste, Hester Bateman, along with her sons Peter and John, produced some of the finest domestic and presentation sterling pieces ever created. Highly revered for her restrained decoration, works by this talented smith are highly collectible and exceedingly scarce.


beauvais

A type of tapestry originally made at Beauvais, France. Subjects depicted are usually flowers, fruit, landscapes, and pastorals.


beech

A hardwood which lacks a pronounced grain.


bell turning

A type of turning used for furniture legs and pedestal supports shaped like a conventional bell. Common in the William and Mary style.


Belle Epoque

Curvilinear high style of the later part of the 19th century and early 20th century, combining Victorian electicism and the flowing, sinuous forms of Art Nouveau.


Belleek

A light, fragile feldspathic porcelain cast in moulds finished with a lustrous pearly glaze. Invented c. 1860 by William Goss of Stoke and improved by William Bromley at the Irish factory of David McBirney & Co.in Belleek Co., Fermanaugh. Belleek was also produced at many American factories from 1882-1900 and is known as lotusware by Knowles of East Liverpool.


Belter, John Henry

John Henry Belter stands at the forefront of American cabinetmakers of the Rococo Revival and is widely considered the finest furniture maker of the period. Belter patented an unusual method of cutting through incredibly sturdy laminated wood which allowed him to create extraordinary carvings well-suited to the flamboyant tastes of Victorian America. His work literally defined formal American furnishings of the mid 19th century.


bergere

Armchair with filled-in sides from French designs of c.1725. Early models were caned, later ones upholstered.


bevel

The edge of any flat surface that has been cut at a slant to the main area.


Biedermeier

A style of furniture produced in Austria and Germany during the first half of the 19th century. Inspired by French Empire and German painted peasant work. The name was borrowed from an imaginary cartoon character called Papa Biedermeier, an uneducated country gentleman who considered himself a connoisseur of fine and industrial arts. Simple marquestry patterns were used with pressed brass ornaments of Greek inspiration as well as painted motifs of wreaths, urns, and floral, animal and human forms. Woods used were mainly fruitwoods, maple, mahogany and birch.


birch

A hardwood with a close grain and a deep tan hue. One of the strongest cabinet woods grown in America.


bird box

Mechanical singing bird boxes initially appeared in the 1780s as toys for royalty and extremely wealthy noblemen. Today, these wonderful boxes continue to delight and are highly sought after by collectors. Know as tabatière in France (from the French word for tobacco, they resemble tobacco or snuff boxes) each box conceals a richly colored, hand-feathered miniature bird. When the lid is opened, the bird appears and sings a lovely tune, while moving his beak and flapping his wings. When the birdsong is complete, the tiny creature simply slips back into the box and the lid automatically closes behind it. Elaborately ornamented, a painstaking and costly process is required to create just one of these treasures, and each piece is wonderfully unique.


bird's eye

A decorative wood feature most common in maple. It is formed by small depressions in the outermost growth ring of the timber, with the later growth following the contours and forms a series of small concentric circles when cut.


bisque (biscuit)

Unglazed porcelain or pottery commonly used for Neo-Classical reliefs and statuettes since the middle of the 18th century.


black basalts

An unglazed line-grained black stoneware perfected by Wedgwood c. 1769. Decorated with relief, gilding or enamelling.


Black Forest

Furniture carved in and around Bern, Switzerland during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, commonly identified by its use of carved bears and other creatures of the forest, such as deer and birds. Bear furniture originally began as a hobby for the Swiss family of cabinetmakers and wood-carvers named Trauffer. The linden tree was preferred for most furniture as it is easy to carve, but walnut was also widely used.


blackamoors

The first blackamoors were created in Venice in the late 17th century. Later, during the mid 1800s, Venetian artists carved some of the most impressive and graceful examples known, much to the delight of wealthy European families whose demand for fine art and furnishings seemed insatiable. Blackamoor figures ranged from monumental, life-size figures serving as torchieres to diminutive table top figurines used as candleholders.


Blue John

A variety of the mineral fluorspar with distinctive banding of blue, violet, and purple, found at Treak Cliff, near Castleton in Derbyshire, England. Since the Roman era, blue john has been used for the production of decorative wares which were shaped on a lathe.


boiserie

Richly carved woodwork used as panels, especially in 17th and 18th century French decoration.


bombe

A French term, literally meaning "blown out", describing a large outward swelling curve on the front of a piece of furniture.


bonheur-du-jour

A small, light lady's writing desk first made in France in the 1760s. It has a central drawer in front, tiered shelves and cupboards in back, and sometimes a shelf between the legs.


bonnet top

In cabinet work, a top with a broken pediment or arch, or a curved or scroll top wih a central finial motif in the shape of a flame, urn, etc.


Boulle

Decorative type of marquetry in which tortoiseshell, brass, copper and tin were cut and pierced into elaborate floral or curving designs. Originally a 10th century Italian process, Boulle marquety developed in 17th century France and was perfected by Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732).


bracket foot

A stunted cabriole form, with a straight corner edge and curved inner edges.


breakfront

Cabinet piece the front of which has one or more projecting portions.


Britannia silver

A silver alloy introduced after the English Civil War to prevent the melting down of sterling coins to create silver objects. Britannia silver was mandatory in England from 1697 to 1720 and is composed of 958 parts silver in 1000. All Britiannia silver is hallmarked with the figure of Britannia.


bun foot

A furniture support that resembles a slightly flattened ball or sphere. Commonly used in William and Mary case furniture.


bureau

Desk popular in late 17th-century England and France distinguished by its sloping fall-front. The flap is hinged at the base and rests on lopers when open, folding up at an angle when closed. In America, used to described a bedroom chest-of-drawers.


burl

A curly-grained wood surface or veneer cut from irregular growths of the tree, such as the roots or crotches. Very common in walnut.


cabochon

Smooth round or oval raised decoration; or the simplest style of a gemstone; oval, round or teardrop shaped with a rounded top and flat or concave base. This style is used for many opaque stones.


cabriole leg

A furniture leg with a double curve. A stylized form of animal hind leg with elongated "S" shape. Popular in late 18th-century and 19th-century Europe.


cache pot

A French term used to identify a decorative china or metal jardiniere designed to hold a small potted plant or cut flowers.


cameo

A small-scale, shallow relief decoration of carved stone, shell, glass or ceramic typically set against a contrasting colored background developed during the Hellenistic period. Cameos are predominately used in jewelry decoration.


cameo glass

Glass decoration utilizing two layers of glass in which the exterior layer, usually white, is cut away from the underlying colored layer creating a contrasting relief design.


candelabra

A branched candlestick or lamp stand.


caning

A woody stem of rattan or sugar cane used for wickerwork, seats of chairs, summer furniture, etc.


canterbury

Ornamental stand having compartments and divisions for papers, portfolios, envelopes, magazines, etc.


cartouche

Typically oval in shape, a cartouche is an ornamental motif with curved or scrolling edges. Often the cartouche contains a coat-of-arms or an inscription.


cassolette

A vase, usually gilt-bronze, with a pierced lid for burning perfume pastilles made in France from the 17th century on. Some examples often have a cover which reverses to form a candlestick.


casters

(also known as muffineers) Made in sets of three, with a large pierced caster for sugar, a smaller pierced caster for black pepper and a thrid, non-pierced caster for mustard. The mustard caster's top usually features decorative engraving or other decoration.


celadon

A semi-translucent, usually green glaze, used on Chinese stoneware.


cellaret

A portable chest, case, or cabinet for storing bottles, decanters, and glasses, dating from the 18th century.


chaise lounge

A long chair designed for relaxing and semi-reclining, usually upholstered. Adapted from the French 18th-century style, it was often made in two parts: a deep bergere and large stool, which when put together, formed a daytime sofa. Also called a recamier.


champlevé

A type of enamelling in which powdered glass is placed in the hollowed-out areas of a piece before firing.


chasing

A technique used to decorate metal objects, especially silver, which involves the use of shaped punches and a chasing hammer to model the piece.


cheval mirror

A large full-length mirror, usually standing on the floor.


chiffonier

The chiffonier is a sideboard, or cabinet, introduced during the late 18th century with open shelves for books and a cupboard or drawers below.


Chippendale

Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779 was one of the great cabinet makers of the 18th-century England. His work shows a refinement of Georgian styles, influenced by the Gothic, Chinese, and French rococo. First of his era to extensively use mahogany rather than walnut, the prevailing wood in the Early Georgian period. In 1754 he published "The Gentlemen's and Cabinetmaker's Drectory," illustrating the styles of the day.


cloisonné

A type of enamelling in which compartments separated by thin strips of metal are filled with powdered glass prior to firing.


cockfighting chair

Chair for reading and writing or viewing sports events used by straddling the seat and facing the back. The back has a small shelf. Popular from Queen Anne to Chippendale periods.


commode

French form of low chest-of-drawers , originally intended for the drawing room, dating from the mid 17th-century and very popular in the 18th century. Became a term for bedroom cupboards in the 19th century.


console table

A small table that can be attached to the wall in the back having two legs in front or can be free-standing against the wall.


cornucopia

Classical motif in the shape of a goat's horn out of which spills fruit, vegetables, and flowers. A symbol of fertility and abundance popular during the Baroque and Rococo periods. Also horn-of-plenty.


coromandel

A very hard wood similar to ebony.


crackle

A network of cracks in the glaze of some Chinese porcelain, deliberately introduced as decoration.


crazing

Tiny surface cracks in the glaze of porcelain or on a painting.


creamware

A lead-glazed and cream colored earthenware with a light body consisting of pale clay. Creamware was perfected in Staffordshire in the mid-18th century.


credenza

Sideboard with doors surmounted by drawers, used for storage.


cruet

A cruet is a small bottle used for oils, vinegars and other condiments. Its earliest use was ecclesiastical for wine, oil and water. A few medieval examples exist today. In the late 17th century, cruets were used domestically and were made of glass imported from Italy and adorned with silver or silver-plated mounts. Cruets were grouped together on a stand in a frame or rack typically with a central vertical handle and supporting feet. The number of bottles could vary from two to six or more and were often combined with casters.


crystal

Fine, high-quality glass containing lead oxide invented in 17th century England. The lead oxide is attributed to providing the glass with extraordinary qualities of brillance, sound and a suitable texture for cutting or engraving. Some of the finest crystal ever made is from Baccarat in France (est. 1816) and Waterford in Ireland (est. 1729).


cut glass

Any glass whose surface has been cut into facets, grooves and depressions aided by a large, rotating wheel. Wheel cutting glass decoration was developed in the 8th century BC, but the technique of faceting wasn't perfected until the 18th century in England. Although cutting glass is a costly and difficult process, the brilliant effects are extraordinary.


damask

A linen, cotton, rayon, or silk fabric with a reversible jacquard weave and a lustrous surface.


Delft

Earthenware made in The Netherlands, known for its heavy glaze. A blue underglaze decoration on conventional patterns with town and landscape scenes on a white background.


Directoire

A period of design in France after the Revolution, from 1795 to 1804. Characterized by Roman motifs and named for the Directory, the government at the time.


dovetail

A term in carpentry used to designate a method of joinery. A tenon or tongue that flares outward in the shape of a dove's tail that interlocks with alternating similar grooves or projections from another piece of wood. Frequently used to join corners of drawers and cabinets.


dumbwaiter table

A serving table, consisting of three or four circular trays on a central shaft with the smallest being at the top and the largest at the bottom. Also known as a tier table.


earthenware

All pottery except for stoneware


ebonizing

The staining of wood to black to resemble ebony, a common decorative technique used in Louis XIV furniture.


ebony

The name given to several different woods that are very dark in color, sometimes dark brown or green to black in color.


elm

A uniform and fine textured wood with a light brownish-red color tinged with darker brown ring marks.


embossing

A process of stamping, hammering or molding a material so that a design protrudes beyond the surface.


enamel

A painted porcelain decoration in vitreous colors that fuse to the glazed surface during low temperature kiln firing. Enamel sinks deeply into soft-paste porcelain but is not absorbed by hard-paste porcelain.


engraving

The process of cutting or carving lines into a surface.


epergne

An ornamental centerpiece usually of glass or silver or a combination of both. Two or more vase-shaped holders are branched upward from a decorative base to hold flowers.


escutcheon

Metal plate fitted around a keyhole for protection and decoration or to which a handle or knob can be attached.


espagnolette

(French) decorative bronze bust of female form, typically found on French rococo furnishings


Estate

An estate is the net worth of a person at any point in time.


Estate jewelry

Estate in the term Estate jewelry does not refer to jewelry coming from the estate of the deceased but refers to the fact it was previously owned.


etagere

Set of free-standing or wall shelves used to display objects, sometimes with drawers or doors.


etchings

Prints from a copper plate upon which a drawing or design has been made by a metal tool.


etui

French term for case.


 

Faberge

Extraordinary jeweled works of art by Peter Carl Fabergé, legendary jeweler to the Czars of Russia.


faience

Richly decorated and colorful pottery produced first in Faenza, Italy and at Rouen, France about 1644. Small flowers, cornucopias and arrows are typical motifs done in blue, green, and yellow on a cream white background.


Fairyland Lustre (Wedgwood)

Daisy Maekig-Jones’ arrival at the Wedgwood factory came at a most opportune moment in that company’s illustrious history. For centuries, Wedgwood had been a leader in innovation and design, but by the early 20th century, they teetered on the brink of financial ruin. The public had tired of the classic motifs and muted colors of traditional Wedgwood, instead seeking something more vibrant and uplifting, no doubt to distract them from the hardships brought on by the First World War. When Maekig-Jones’ introduced her dazzling designs and cutting-edge glazing techniques in 1915, it proved to be the perfect antidote for the ailing Wedgwood factory. Her fantastical fairies and enchanted forests filled with butterflies, dragons and playful pixies captivated the public and led many to believe she was delightfully and brilliantly mad. Maekig-Jones‘ Fairyland Lustre line single-handedly pulled Wedgwood back to profitability. Maekig-Jones retired in 1931, leaving behind an amazing body of work that continues to enchant and entice collectors today.


fauteuil

French open-armed chair with upholstered seat and back.


Federal

An American period 1780-1830 influenced by English Adam, Sheraton, Regency, Hepplewhite, French Directoire, and Empire. Mahogany was used extensively but cherry, pine, and maple were also used. The most common ornament on this period of furniture was the eagle.


feldspathic glaze

The glaze on hard-paste porcelain which fuses into a type of natural glass at a very high temperature.


filigree (metal)

Decorative technique using open or backed wire work. The fine wire is typically gold or silver and is worked into an intricate design.


finial

An ornmant used as a terminating motif usually in the form of a ball, flame, flower, acorn, pineapple, or vase.


fleur-de-lis

The conventionalized iris flower used by the former kings of France as a decorative motif symbolizing royalty.


flip-top

A table having two leaves, one on top of the other.


fluting

Decoration formed by making parallel, concave grooves. In classical architecture they are commonly seen on column shafts and run in a vertical direction.


French ivory

Synthetic ivory. An artificial plastic produced to imitate ivory first produced by the Xylonite Company in 1866. Other names include Celluloid, Ivoride, Ivorine, Ivorite and Pyralin.


French polish

A durable finish of high gloss created by applying successive layers of shellac varnish to wood. The degree of shine may vary froma subtle gloss to a mirrored gloss. The name is used because it is believed to have been first used in France in the late 1600s.


french provincial

Furniture style created by craftsmen in the French provinces. Local woods were generally used for pieces that were practical for the home. Tended to be simpler versions of the Louis XV style


fresco

A painting done on plaster before it dries, generally in mural decoration.


fretwork

Elaborate form of pierced decoration in wood created by using a fretsaw.


fu dogs

The Fu Dogs or Guardian Lions in Chinese mythology symbolise protection and their figures, usually sculptures, were often positioned outside temples, palaces, tombs and official buildings.


gadroon

Applied series of small vertical, diagonal or twisted flutes commonly used as a border decoration on silverware.


Galle, Emile

(1846-1904) French glassmaker, potter and cabinetmaker renowned for his stunning Art Nouveau pieces which revitalized the decorative arts industry at the turn of the century. Galle's design interests reflected the contemporary taste for botany and entomology, and his techniques were innovative and quite productive. In 1874, Galle established his own glass shop in Nancy creating pieces that amazed the public at several Exposition Universelles in Paris. He introduced his glasswares in 1878 and his complex marquetry furniture pieces in 1889. Galle's talent was widely recognized and he was elected to the prestigious Legion d'honneur in 1900.


gallery

The ornamental metal or wood railing around the edge of a table or desk.


Georgian

A period of design in English furniture from 1714 to 1795. Among the best known designers were Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Chippendale, and the Adams Brothers. Mahogany and walnut were the chief woods used.


gesso

A prepared plaster of chalk and white lead which may be cast to make repeating ornamental forms in relief to be applied to wood panels, plaster surfaces, etc.


gilding

The decoration of an object with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf or gold foil.


Gillows

Founded in 1703 by Robert Gillows, the Gillows firm operated successfully as a family-owned business well into the 19th century. Operating from Lancaster, England, Gillows was especially noted for their quality and innovative designs.


girandole

Elaborate candelabra associated with Rococo and Neoclassical design. Also refers to heavily carved or glided sconces or wall brackets with mirrored backplates to reflect the candlelight.


glaze

A shiny, glassy surface coating that also seals porous bodies of porcelain and pottery. Glazes can be translucent, opaque or colored. Lead and salt glazes are applied to pottery and soft-paste porcelain, feldspathic glazes to hard-paste porcelain.


Greenaway, Kate

Victorian children's book author and illustrator, Kate Greenaway (1846-1901) stole the hearts of young and old with her charming depictions of young children. Several of her images were reproduced by prominent silver companies during the Victorian era for figural napkin rings, which are now the most highly sought after figurals.


gueridon

A small table or pedestal with a circular top dating from the 17th and early 18th centuries. Originally used to support candelabras.


hallmark

A mark or stamp applied to a precious metal by a legally appointed official denoting quality of a piece after assaying, examining to determine the amount of precious metal contained in a piece.


hard-paste porcelain

Hard-paste (or true) porcelain is compounded of china clay (kaolin) and powdered felspathic rock (china stone or petuntse). It is glazed with petuntse which fuses into a form of natural glass under intense heat.


hassock

A tightly stuffed, upholstered cushion used as a footstool or seat.


Hepplewhite

An English designer in the18th century who frequently co-operated with the Adams Brothers. He wrote "The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer's Guide."


highboy

Tall chest of drawers supported by cabriole legs and usually crowned with cornice moldings or a pediment. Popular in 18th-century America.


Imari

Heavily decorated Japanese porcelain with overglaze enamels and gilding. Popular in the first half of the 18th century.


incised

A pattern or carving produced by cutting into a stone, wood, or other hard surface. The reverse of relief carving.


inlay

Form of decoration used in furniture and ceramics, inlay is when part of a surface is removed and replaced with a contrasting material.


intaglio

A decorative technique in which a design is cut into a hard surface. Intaglio is also the Italian word for carving.


Irish Furniture (18th-Century)

During the 18th century, very few Irish families were wealthy enough to afford luxurious furnishings. With middle-class demand virtually non-existant, almost all Irish furniture was of exceptional quality and crafted exclusively for the tiny aristocratic population. Though talented 18th-century Irish craftsmen produced only a relatively few pieces, their work is considered among the finest ever. Today, Irish furniture is highly sought after by collectors, though few pieces are found on the market.


ironstone china

Created to imitate porcelain, Ironstone china was first made in England in 1813 by Charles James Mason of Staffordshire and was known as "Mason's Ironstone." Ironstone china is very hard, opaque and pale-bodied.


Jacobean

Period in English design from 1603 to 1688, characterized by practicality and a tendency toward Baroque. Early American furniture is based on this period. Box-like and architectural in style.


jacquard

Type of weave done on a loom invented by Joseph Marie Jacquard in 1801, making possible a variety of intricate patterns. Demasks, brocades, and tapestries can be woven on jacquard looms.


Japan patterns

Japanese-inspired designs on English pottery and porcelain (for example, Worcester)


Japanning

Term used for European techniques to imitate designs from the Far East.


jardiniere

A plant or flower container


jasper dip and jasperware

A fine-grained unglazed stoneware perfected by Wedgwood in 1775. This white stoneware could be stained with different colors, usually blue, lilac, sage green and black. From about 1780 on the coloring could be on the outer surface only and is known as jasper dip.


joinery

The craft of assembling woodwork by means of mortise and tenon, dovetail, tongue and groove, dowels, etc.


jubako

Japanese picnic box


kalaga

Embroidered Burmese tapestries. Kalagas were orginally developed in Burma (now Myanmar) at the Mandalay court (1850-1885) to serve as wall hangings, curtains, room partitions, coffin covers and theatre backdrops. These traditional Burmese tapestries depicted scenes from various legends as well as events of religious importance.


kaolin

(china clay) - A fine white granite clay used in hard-paste porcelain.


kingwood

A Brazilian wood, also called violet wood from the color of its markings, used in fine cabinetwork. Given its name because it was preferred by the kings of France in the 18th century.


kneehole desk

Desk with a solid lower portion but with an opening for the knees of a person seated at it.


KPM porcelain paintings

Few other mediums afford artists the expression of such luminous beauty than porcelain. The smooth, cool surface gives paintings an almost translucent quality, as thought the light is refelcted from within. KPM porcelain represents the crème de la crème of this art form and signed pieces are highly sought after and rare.


lacquer

Oriental varnish obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree. Gave a high-gloss finish to furniture in Europe in the 17th century. Mother-of-pearl, coral, and metals were often inlaid in the lacquer to create a decorative effect.


Lalique

A luminous, transparent glass introduced in the early 20th century by Rene Lalique of France. Most of his designs have a sculptural quality achieved by pressing and alternating a dull with a polished surface.


 

laminated wood

Perfected by American cabinet maker John Henry Belter, wood pieces made up of thin layers are frequently bent and moulded to create curved shapes such as bed footboards, headboards or pierced furniture decoration.


lavabo

French term meaning "wash bowl"


Linke, Francois

Francois Linke was the most celebrated and influential ebeniste(cabinet maker) of his time. His work has long been admired for its exceptional quality and innovative interpretation of the Louis XV and Art Nouveau styles.


Louis XIV

Known as the Sun King, he reigned in France between 1643 and 1715. Influenced the Baroque style in furniture during the earlier part of the reign which later developed into the Regence style. Mahogany and oak were widely used. Baroque was large, masculine, and symmetrical. Regence was characterized by its use of curves and introduction of Chinoiserie. Ornamentation was usually done with rocks, shells, and flowers.


Louis XV

He reigned in France between 1715 and 1774. The style of furniture was essentially Rococo with soft, flowing lines, shell and flower ornamentation, rich upholstery, inlaying and painted furniture.


Louis XVI

Reigned in France between 1774 and 1793. Characteristics of this style were rectangular lines, architectural ornamentation, classic symmetry, marquetry, and the predominant use of mahogany.


lowboy

Chest of drawers mounted on short legs. Usually about three feet high.


lustre

A metallic, sometimes iridescent, form of decoration.


lyre back

Design commonly used by Duncan Phyfe on the backs of chairs. A representation of lyre figures carved from wood with brass wires used to represent the strings.


mahogany

Straight grained hard wood with silky texture, ranging in color from salmon-pink through bright red and when newly cut, changes to a golden or deep brown red.


majolica

A 19th century type of earthenware featuring colored lead glazes.


malachite

An opaque green mineral with very pronounced and often concentric banding. It's surface is hard enough to be polished and malachite has been used for beads, cabochons, decorative items and pietre dure.


Mallard, Prudent

Born in Sevres, France, Prudent Mallard emigrated to America in 1829. After finding New York unsuitable, he travelled by steamship to New Orleans, where he set up shop on Royal Street, the city's most prestigious avenue, catering to the needs of a very wealthy clientele. Known for his palatial furnishings, Mallard is one of the most important Southern cabinet makers.


mantle clock

Clock that was designed to be displayed on the projecting shelf surmounting a fireplace.


maple

Light reddish-brown wood with uniform texture. Grain is usually straight execpt when different veneers are used.


marks

Porcelain and Pottery usually have signs of origin applied to the piece either in underglaze blue, impressed, incised, or painted above the glaze which generally indicate the manufacturer. Some pieces also contain marks denoting the artist and date of the piece.


marquetry

A flush pattern produced by inserting contrasting materials in a veneered surface. Rare, grained, and colored woods are usually used, but thin layers of tortoiseshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, and metals are also seen. If the pattern is of a geometric nature,it is called parquetry.


medallion

A circular or oval frame having within it an ornamental motif.


Meeks, J. & J. W.

The family-owned J. & J. W. Meeks company, based in New York with outlets in New Orleans and along the Atlantic coast, was a major competitor to John Henry Belter. Because they employed similar styles, much of Meeks’ outstanding work had long been mistakenly identified as Belter. Today, experts are correcting the confusion and the Meeks’ name is now synonymous with the superior quality of the Rococo Revival


Meissen

Manufacturers of true porcelain whose wares remain unrivaled in terms of innovation and beauty. Meissen is the name of the small town in which alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottger was imprisoned by the King of Saxony where he remained for several years until 1710 when he finally discovered a formula for true (hard-paste) porcelain.


meridienne

Sofa with one arm higher than the other.


millefiori

A type of glassware in which multi-colored glass pieces are put in rosette or floral designs and embedded in clear glass. The word literally means "a thousand flowers" in Italian.


mosaic

A decorative technique in which square or rectangular pieces of stone, glass, ceramic tile (also known as tessare) are set in mortar in and artistic motif. Tiny mosaics are referred to as micromosaics.


mother-of-pearl

A term used to reference the hard, iridescent inner lining of certain mollusk shells such as oyster and mussel. Used as a decorative inlay in furniture and objets d'art.


mount

An ornamental attachment typically of gilt-bronze on high-quality porcelain.


Nanking Cargo

In 1752 a large Dutch trading vessel, the Geldermalsen, sunk into the Atlantic Ocean carrying the largest single shipment of blue and white porcelain ever to leave China. 150,000 pieces of china from this ship were salvaged in 1985 by Captain Michael Hatcher and then sold during a four day sale at Christie's Amsterdam in 1986. The pieces in our collection were acquired from the original purchaser at that sale and are the only Nanking Cargo pieces that we know of on the market anywhere.


nef

The nef, developed during the Middle Ages, is a vessel in the form of a ship that was used at the dining table. Its earliest known use, recorded in 12th century France, was most likely as a drinking vessel and was made of materials other than silver. By the 15th century, the nef was used as a receptacle for salt, goblets, napkins, eating utensils, and meat. By the 16th century, it evolved into an elaborate table ornament, from the form of simple boats to fully and accurately rigged ships often peopled with tiny figures. Nefs were often paraded at feasts in the courts of Europe and given as presents to royalty and aristocracy.


neo-classic

Refers to the second revival of classic design for interior decoration in the 18th century.


nephrite

Often called greenstone, nephrite is a creamy greenish colored mineral often used by Faberge.


nesting tables

Group of tables, usually three, constructed so that one fits under the other.


niello

A black inlay in a metal surface, typically silver, copper and lead. Developed in ancient Roman times the technique resurged up until the Renaissance in Western Europe and is still common in Eastern Europe, Russia and the Middle East.


oak

Wood varies from light tan to deep leathery brown with black spots. Variations due to differences in climate and soil.


obelisk

Tall, square stone monumental shaft with pyramidal top used in ancient Egypt. The form, on a small scale in alabaster, is used as a decorative ornament in Directoire, Empire, and contemporary interiors.


occasional table

Generic term for decorative, small tables such as end tables, coffee tables, lamp tables, etc.


Old Paris (Veaux Paris)

A generic term used to describe the products of numerous factories and decorating establishments in around Paris from 1780-1840. Paris blossomed as a center of excellence after the French Revolution and porcelain factories began to mulitply. Unfortunately, due to intense competition, smaller factories left many of their pieces unmarked. Typically, Old Paris porcelain is a combination of Greek, Roman and Egyptian influences accented with bright colors and gilding.


orchestral music box

Introduced in the 1870s, the orchestral music box revolutionized the industry. The addition of an organ to the drums, bells and castanets provided a new level of sound production and served to invigorate the industry even though their production was very costly and they were generally only available to the very affluent. The more elaborate examples allowed the listener to customize the sound of the music box by turning off one or many of the added instruments.


ormolu

Derived from French for ground gold, the term refers to gilded bronze or brass mounts.


ottoman

A low, upholstered seat without backs or arms. Sometimes used as a foot-rest.


overglaze

Decoration applied to a piece of pottery or porcelain after it has been glazed.


oyster veneering

Oyster veneering, a technique indicative of William & Mary furnishings, was achieved by transversely cutting or slicing the smaller branches of certain trees such as walnut or olive. These small, rounded veneers, with their circular striations, resembled the inside of an oyster and when pieced together produced a most dramatic effect.


pad foot

Club foot resting on an integral disc.


palette

The group of colors used in a particular style or by a particluar factory or decorator.


Paraiba Tourmaline

The Paraiba tourmaline was first discovered in Brazil in 1989 and stands today as one of the world’s rarest and most vibrant gemstones. Characterized by an electric-blue color, the finest examples have the distinction of having the incredibly rare “neon” coloration.

Paraiba tourmalines are now found in two places in the world: Brazil and Africa. The gems of Brazil possess the greatest fire and brilliance while the African variety tends to be more green and muted. The gems owe their unique coloring to the presence of copper in the stone. Due to the specific mineral composition of the stones found in the Brazilian mine, nature has created a gemstone that stands out among all others, and is considered even more rare than diamonds.


parquetry

Inlay of geometric design, used for decorative flooring.


paste

The composite material from which porcelain is made.


pastiglia

A technique used to decorate small gilded items made from a white powder derived from lead. Often used during the Italian Renaissance for decorating tiny caskets, it was much too fragile for use on larger items.


pastille burners

Popular from 1820-1850, pastille burners were containers often in the form of cottages, churches, or summer houses, with detachable lids for burning cassolette perfumes (incense).


pate-sur-pate

A type of 19th century porcelain featuring low-relief designs carved in slip and applied to a contrasting body.


patination

The change of color of a metal surface due to a chemical reaction between the metal and its environment. A patina can be created naturally or artificially.


pedestal

Tall, narrow base which supports a statue, lamp, vase or any decorative object. Usually treated with moldings at the top and a base block on the bottom. Without moldings it is called a plinth.


pediment

Broad triangular or curved space above a portico, doorway, window or cabinet. Can have segmental, scroll, and broken forms.


Pembroke table

A drop-leaf table.


Petit, Jacob

Jacob Petit owned one of the most important and well-known porcelain factories in France. He rose from humble beginnings to become a major producer of Rococo ornamental ware in the 1830s. Jacob Petit's highly decorative porcelain was enormously popular in both England and France. His heavily molded and somewhat eccentric style has proven to be well-made and designed to endure the test of time. Petit's peices are normally clearly marked with the letters J.P. in underglaze blue.


Pearls
A pearl is a hard object produced within the soft tissue of a living shelled mollusk.

pewter

Alloy of tin and lead which has a dull gray appearance and is used for the making of tableware and ornaments. Originally it was intended as a substitute for silver but its value diminished in the 17th century with the advent of chinaware for everyday use.


Phyfe, Duncan

America's most famous cabinetmaker 1768-1854. His work was greatly influenced by Sheraton, Dreictoire, and Empire design. He used mostly mahogany with finely carved ornaments. Known for federal design.


pie-crust table

A small, round table having a top with its edge carved or molded in scallops. Common in 18th-century English furniture.


pier glass

Tall, narrow framed mirror originally placed between two windows to enhance light coming into a room. Often an accompaniment to a low table or consol.


pierced work

Decorative technique used on precious and non-precious metals, created by perforating the metal sheet. Some extraordinary pierced work was achieved by the noteworthy Goldsmiths and Silversmiths of London during the 18th and 19th centuries.


pietre dure

An Italian phrase which means "hard stones," pietre dure is often used to describe sculptural or decorative use of hard stones. This technique was used to decorate furniture, cameos, vases and decorative panels.


pilaster

Architectural term for a flattened column attached to a facade for decoration rather than structural support.


pine

Wood that is uniform in texture but sometimes strongly marked with annual rings. It dries easily and does not shrink or swell greatly with changes in moisture content.


polychrome

Decoration using three or more colors.


poplar

Even-textured and straight-grained wood, it is available in lumber as well as in thin stock suitable for cross-banding and face veneers.


porcelain

Translucent white ceramic body made from kaolin and petuntse (hard-paste) or another ingredient that induces translucency (soft-paste) fired at high temperatures.


porphyry

Rock sunstance composed of crystals of quartz, used during the reign of Louis XIV for table tops.


pottery

Generic term for all ceramic wares except for porcelain.


putto

cupid or cherub commonly used as a decorative motif.


Queen Anne

A period in English furniture design from 1702-1714, characterized by adaptation of Baroque and the extensive use of the cabriole leg. Walnut was the dominant wood.


Queen's Ware

Cream-colored earthenware improved and marketed by Josiah Wedgwood from 1765. It was named Queen's ware in honor of Queen Charlotte, the wife of George III.


recamier

A long chair designed for relaxing and semi-reclining, usually upholstered. Adapted from the French 18th-century style, it is also called a chaise lounge.


Regence French

Transitional period in French furniture design between Louis XIV and the Rococo style developed by Louis XV. Named for the time frome in France from 1715-1728 when Philip, Duke of Orleans, reigned. Characteristics are graceful curves, the cabriole leg, and ornamentation copied from nature rather than mythology. Bright veneers of rosewood and satinwood were widely used.


Regency English

Period of severe neoclassicism from 1810-1820 influenced by the French Empire.


Renaissance

Revival of interest in classical design, beginning in Italy during the 14th century and continuing to spread throughout Europe until the 17th century. Design is simple in structure with a generous use of classical ornament, such as the acanthus leaf, animal forms, and pilasters.


repousse

A decorative technique in which sheet metal is punched and hammered from the back, usually follwed by chasing from the front as a finishing touch. Another word for repousse is embossing.


Rococo

Period in French design originating in the 18th century following the Baroque era. An assymetrical motif, it was often overly ornamental. The name is derived from the French words rocaille (rock) and coquille (shell), which are prominent rococo decorative elements.


rosewood

Prized for its exotic and beautifully figured appearance, rosewood was a favorite among upscale cabinet makers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Unlike more common woods, rosewood is exceptionally dense, rich in color and very receptive to a high polish. Hailing from tropical forests of India and Brazil, rosewood got its name not from its appearance, but from the aroma of the freshly cut trees. Neo-classical furniture makers like Thomas Chippendale preferred rosewood to any other variety for his incredible furnishings. Brazilian rosewood was the preferred choice of 19th-century furniture makers as well. Today, rosewood pieces are highly sought after by antique connoisseurs.


rosso antico

The name given by Wedgwood to his red stoneware.


Roux, Alexander

Alexander Roux emigrated from France to New York and opened his first shop in 1837. He used his Parisian background and training to his advantage, imparting his designs with a decidedly French flair. By 1855, Roux employed 120 workers, reaching the peak of his success in the 1870s with more than a half million dollars in annual sales. Roux’s genius lay in his ability to excel in the creation of the popular styles without sacrificing quality or the spirit of innovation.


salon set

Complete set of matched furniture for a specific room. Also called a suite.


samovar

An urn with a spigot at its base used especially in Russia to boil water for tea.


sarcophagus

A rectangular, coffin-shaped box tapering to a smaller size at the bottom. Can be used as a cellaret or tea caddy.


satinwood

Pale in color and silky in appearance, satinwood became increasingly popular in Britain during the 1770s, replacing mahogany as the wood of choice for smaller pieces of furniture. A brilliant yellow wood with a high lustre, stainwood often has a rippled or quilted feature from which its name is derived. Typically, satinwood is used as a veneer and it remained popular in England throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries.


scallop shell

A semi-circular shell with ridges radiating from a point at the bottom. This ornamental motif was common in furniture design during the Queen Anne and Georgian periods in England and America. It was also extensively used in the easrly Spanish Renasisscane.


sconce

A bracketed wall-light comprising a decorative backplate and candleholders. Very fashionable from the late 17th century. Rococo versions are often called girandoles.


scrimshaw

A folk art dating from the 17th century in which whale teeth, whale bones and walrus tusks are engraved or lightly carved with a picture or design.


scroll pediment

Broken pediment with each half shaped in the form of a reverse curve, and ending in an ornamental scroll. Usually a finial is placed in the center between the two halves.


secretary desk

An 18th-century tall piece of furniture with drawers at the bottom, a bookcase on top, and a desk with a drop-llid in the center.


serpentine

Furniture decoration shaped like an s-curve


serpentine curve

Winding and curving design often used in furniture legs or on the front of cabinets or desk.


shagreen

A leather created from various species of sharks, rays and dogfish, particularly the stingray. This nodule-laden leather was commonly used during the 18th and 19th centuries to add decorative features to items such as jewelry boxes, needle cases, sword handles and opera glasses.


Sheraton, Thomas

Sheraton 1750-1806, an English cabinetmaker who name has been given to a school of design in English furniture. Using mahogany as his dominant wood, he followed the classic, simple design in the wake of Adam and Hepplewhite.


shield back

A chair back fashioned in the shape of a shield. Common in Hepplewhite designs.


sideboard

A long, large piece of dining-room furniture with a flat top, and sometimes a superstructure for displaying china and glass. The body is a storage unit, compoased of drawers, sometimes flanked on each side by cabinets with doors.


Smith, Benjamin

Benjamin Smith. Benjamin Smith's (1764-1823) extraordinary genius garnered him accolades from his contemporaries and established him as one of history's most important and respected silversmiths. He, along with other master smiths like Paul Storr and Matthew Boulton, were most influential in elevating the silver artform during the period. Boulton was so impressed with Smith's talent, he entered into a partnership with him. Later, Smith found himself in the same circles as the legendary Paul Storr, and his talent soon gained the attention of the Royal Family. Indeed by 1803, just a year after arriving in London, Smith's work had found its way into the Royal Household and his distinctive style put him in the same stellar league as Storr and Boulton, a most exclusive group. Examples bearing the hallmark of Benjamin Smith are especially rare and sought after among collectors who recognize the superior technical and artistic merit of his work.


soft-paste porcelain

Porcelain compounded mostly of white clay mixed with a glassy substance.


Solon, Marc Louis

Marc Louis Solon is the most renowned pate-sur-pate artist. Solon was forced to leave the Sevres porcelain factory in France and move to England due to the onslaught of the Franco-Prussian war. In 1870 Solon began a long and prosperous relationship with the Minton porcelain factory in Stoke-On-Trent, becoming the premier pate-sur-pateartist.


spinel

Gemstone which occurs in a variety of colors including deep reds, blues and greens. Significant sources of spinels include Burma, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Kenya, Pakistan and Vietnam.


splat

Central flat support between a chair's seat and the top-rail.


splat

The flat central support on a chair's back


sprigged ware

Ceramics which have ornamental decoration applied to its surface. A sprig mould is used to produce a relief decoration with a flat back in order for it to be scored and slipped ("sprigged") for application. Wedgwood jasper ware features sprigged decoration.


Staffordshire pottery

Pottery made in Staffordshire County, England. Provincial in shape ornamentation and coloring. The better grades are usually known by the individual names of their markers.


Sterling

A term used in connection with silverware, indicating that the silver is 92.5 percent pure.


stoneware

A hybrid of earthenware and porcelain, made of clay and a fusible substance, such as sand or flint. It is not porous after firing.


Storr, Paul

Paul Storr (1771-1844) - The most celebrated and prolific silversmith of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Storr captured the attention of the world's aristocracy particularly the Prince of Wales, the future King George IV. His works graced palaces and mansions all over Europe.


stretcher

Strengthening or stabilizing rail which runs horizontal between furniture legs, often forming X, H, or Y shapes.


student lamp

Desk lamp of metal, usually brass, having a tubular shaft and either one or two arms. Shades are of opaque glass usually in dark green or white.


tallboy

Called a chest-on-chest until the 18th century, this high chest-of-drawers has more drawers below than on top.


tantalus

The Tantalus is a cellarette with decanters tucked inside, their contents visible but not obtainable without a key. The name derived from the Greek myth of Tantalos, son of Zeus and King of Lydia. Tantalos was admitted to the society of the gods, but his abominable behavior aroused their anger leading Zeus to condemn him to suffer eternally in Tartarus. As punishment, Tantalos was forced to stand neck-deep in water, which receded from him when he would attempt to drink. Over his head hung the bough of a fruit tree that the wind wafted away whenever he tried to grasp them. It is from his name that the word tantalize also originated.


tapestry

A heavy hand-woven fabric panel, often used as a wall decoration. Aubusson weavers are renowned for their fine tapestries.


tazza

Also knowns as a stem bowl; a bowl or large deep dish raised on a tall, usually figurative foot.


tea bowl

A small Oriental cup without a handle, also made widely in Europe (with a saucer) in the 18th century.


tea caddy

A decorative box created for storing tea leaves, many with two compartments one for black tea and the other for green tea. Some of the finest tea caddies created in England were crafted of exotic woods, adorned with tortoise shell, ivory and mother-of-pearl.


teakwood

Wood from Burma, Java, the East Indies, Siam, French Indochina, and has been planted successfully in the Philippines. A strong, tough wood, it ranges in color from light tawny yellow to dark brown. Slightly oily.


Tiffany's Chrysanthemum

One of the most popular designs created by Tiffany and Co.'s Charles T. Grosjean in 1880. Though it was the most expensive pattern to produce for tea services and flatware, it soon became the most highly prized and luxurious of all Tiffany patterns.


tin glaze

An opaque white glaze containing tin oxide used on faience, delftwares and majolica.


Toby jug

An 18th or 19th century jug representing a seated Englishman with three-cornered hat and mug of ale.


tortoiseshell

Often used as an inlay or a decorative overlay on wood surfaces, tortoiseshell is a mottled, nutty brown shell material with a spotted, striped, or sometimes even speckled pattern.


underglaze

Decoration or mark applied to a ceramic ware underneath a transparent glaze.


veilleuse

Derived from the French word veiller (to keep a night vigil), veilleuse initially referred to any night lamp. Eventually the word became used for any food or drink warmer intended for bedside use. Also referred to as tisaniere.


wedding cup

German Jungfrauenbecher meaning "maiden's cup." The wedding cup originated in Germany during the 16th century, but only a few examples survive from that early time and is now often referred to as the wedding cup for the role it plays in nuptial feasts. The bridegroom drinks a toast out of the larger cup and then rights the figure, without spilling the wine in the smaller pivoted bowl, which is then to be drunk by the bride. The Jungfrauenbecher has also been known as the "wager cup" - the challenged having to drink from both cups without spilling the contents of either.


Wedgwood & Bentley

In 1768 Josiah Wedgwood partnered with Thomas Bentley establishing a factory named 'Etruria' for making ornamental wares.


Wedgwood Fairyland Lustre

Daisy Maekig-Jones’ arrival at the Wedgwood factory came at a most opportune moment in that company’s illustrious history. For centuries, Wedgwood had been a leader in innovation and design, but by the early 20th century, they teetered on the brink of financial ruin. The public had tired of the classic motifs and muted colors of traditional Wedgwood, instead seeking something more vibrant and uplifting, no doubt to distract them from the hardships brought on by the First World War. When Maekig-Jones’ introduced her dazzling designs and cutting-edge glazing techniques in 1915, it proved to be the perfect antidote for the ailing Wedgwood factory. Her fantastical fairies and enchanted forests filled with butterflies, dragons and playful pixies captivated the public and led many to believe she was delightfully and brilliantly mad. Maekig-Jones‘ Fairyland Lustre line single-handedly pulled Wedgwood back to profitability. Maekig-Jones retired in 1931, leaving behind an amazing body of work that continues to enchant and entice collectors today.
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