Antiques Terms and Glossary 2

Maki-e
(‘sprinkled illustration’) Japanese decorative technique of sprinkling gold or coloured filings onto a design in wet lacquer.
Manierblumen
(‘mannered flowers’) Loose representation of scattered flowers, used on 18th-century European porcelain.
Mannerist style
Decorative style of the late 16th century, employing twisted, exaggerated, and bizarre form often entrapped by strapwork and grotesque.
Mantel clock
A small bracket or table clock designed to stand on a shelf or mental piece.
Marchand-mercier
Dealer in luxury products in 18th-century Paris.
Marotte
Doll’s head mounted on a stick or baton which often plays music when twirled. Produced from the late 19th century.
Marvering
Technique in which threads of softened glass are trailed over an object and rolled on flat surface to smooth them together.
Mason’s mitre
A form of mitre joint where the mitre is carved on the wood rather than being formed by the joint between the two pieces meeting.
Mason’s Patent Ironstone China
Fine, porcellaneous stoneware first made in 1813 in Staffordshire, England, by Charles James Mason.
Matchsafe
American team for vesta box.
Matrix
Hardstone, such as opal or turquoise, embedded in its parent rock. Much used in Arts and Crafts and Art Nouveau jewellery.
Matting
Decorative surface on metal created either by applying acid or using small punches or hammers to create dense patterns of dots or indentations.
MDF
Nedium density fibreboard, made from compressed particles of wood and used in the construction of furniture.
Menuisier
French term for a joiner.
Mercury gilding
Highly dangerous method of gilding, in which an amalgam of mercury and gold in brushed onto a surface the heated until mercury burns off and vapour.
Metal
Term used to describe the fused materials from which glass is made.
Meuble en deux corps
Cupboard made in two sections, enclosing drawers in both the top and bottom.
Mina’i
Enamelled ceramics decorated with figures, made in 12th- and 13th-century Persia.
Ming porcelain
Ware produced during the ming dynasty which ruled china from 1368 to 1644.
Mitten hands or feet
Dolls’ hands or feet stitched in one block, with no separation between fingers and toes.
Mixed twist
Term for the stern of a glass that incorporates as opaque twist with an air twist.
Modernism
Style of the 1920s and 1930s inspired by a need to break with the past and to express the spirit of a new machine age. It rejected ornamentation in favour of geometric forms and smooth surfaces.
Mohair plush
Used to make teddy bear fur and produced from angora fleece.
Monochrome
Single colour decoration.
Monopodium
An ornamental support for a table or stand, usually consisting of three legs which were carved with lions’ heads at the top and lions’ paws at the bottom.
Moon dial/moonphase
Subsidiary dial usually fitted in the arch of a clock or in a watch to show the phases of the moon.
Moons
Ait bubbles in porcelain paste that expand during firing, leaving translucent spots.
Moreen
An inexpensive imitation in wool or cotton of moiré silk.
Mortise and tenon
Type of joints used in furniture the mortise is a cavity in to which the shaped tenon fits and is held in place by dowels.
Mote spoon
Small metal spoon with a pierced bowl used to skim tea leaves, with a tapering, pointed stem to unblock the spout of a teapot.
Motif
A decorative detail often repeated to form a pattern.
Mould blowing
A method of shaping glass objects by blowing molten glass in a mould.
Movement
The entire time keeping mechanism of a clock or watch.
Mudejar
Term for Islamic designs used on Spanish decorative arts.
Muffle kiln
Chamber inside a kiln that prevents ceramic wares with enamel decoration from being damaged by the flames during firing.
Mule chest
Chest with drawers in the base. Forerunner of the chest of drawers.
Muntins
Also spelt minting. The vertical members interposed between the corner posts of a cabinet, or the stiles of a door, to support and enclose panels.
Mystery action
Mechanism that causes a battery-operated toy to turn to the left or right at regular intervals and to pull away from an object after a collision.
Mystery clock
A clock of novel from in which the movement is ingeniously disguised.
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Nailsea
A factory near Bristol famous for novelty glass objects.
Nasrids
The last ruling Muslim dynasty in Spain (1232-1492).
Ne Plus Ultra body
Doll’s body jointed at the knees and elbows and with the thighs forming part of the torso.
Neo-classicism
Mid- to late-18th-century style of architecture and decoration based on the forms of ancient Greece and Rome. Characteristic elements include Classical motifs such as garlands of flowers, palmettes, husks, vases, urns, key patterns, and mythical creatures.
Nest of tables
Set of four occasional tables that slide one beneath the other when not in use. Also known as quartetto tables.
Nigoshide
Extremely fine milky-white ceramic body used to make Japanese Kakiemon porcelain.
Nozzle
Detachable top on a candlestick in which the candle is placed.
Nutmeg grater
Silver or wooden box containing nutmeg and a grater, usually for sprinkling nutmeg on ale.
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Octant
Device made from one eighth of a circle used for measuring angular distances.
Oeil de perdrix
(‘partridge eye’) Pattern of dotted circles in enamel or gilding, introduced at the Sevres porcelain factory from the late 1760s.
OG (ogee) clock
Type of mass-produced American wall clock with an ogee-moulded wooden case.
On glaze
Any porcelain decoration painted in enamels or transfer printed on top of a fired glaze.
Onion pattern
Popular decorative pattern in blue underglaze employed at Meissen and other Continental factories from the 18th century.
Opaque twist
A white or coloured twist of glass contained in the stem of a drinking glass.
Open back
Jewellery setting where the back of the gemstone is exposed.
Open head
Open-crowned head covered with a pate (either cork or cardboard) with wig attached. Found on most bisque dolls.
Open mouth
Parted lips of a doll which are really open (as opposed to an open-closed mouth).
Open work
Pierced decoration.
Orders
The most important elements of Classical architecture. An order comprises a base, shaft, column, entablature, and capital in one of the following styles: Doris, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, or Composite. Used on all the decorative arts, particularly from the 18th century.
Ovolo
A quarter circle shaped moulding.
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Paisley
A soft woollen fabric with a stylized design based on pniecones.
Palladian style
Classical style of architecture as interpreted by the Italian architect Andrea Palladio (1508-80) in his seminal work Quattro Libri. Palladianism was introduced into England in the 1730s by Lord Burlington and William Kent.
Palmette
Stylized palm-leaf motif.
Pancheon
Deep, usually earthenware, bowl traditionally used for the mixing and rising of yeast dough.
Paper mache
Paper pulp combined with glue used to make small objects such as boxes and trays also applied over a metal frame to make larger pieces of furniture.
Paper plush
Type of plush fabric used in the manufacture of soft toys, made from nettle plant derivatives due to a lack of mohair and other quality materials in the 1920s.
Paperweight eyes
Realistic glass dolls’ eyes with white threads running through the irises, giving an impression of depth.
Papier-mache
Combination of moulded paper pulp, whitening agent, and glue, used during the 19th century for the construction of dolls’ head and bodies, furniture and domestic objects.
Paraison
Bubble of molten glass on the end of a pontil rod and blowpipe that has been partially inflated.
Parcel gilt
Wood that has been partly gilded.
Parchemin panel
Also called parchment panel. A decorative feature used in the early 16th century consisting of two ogeeshaped ribs set back to back, with carved flowers or grapes filling in the background.
Pardah
A rug which is suspended in a tent doorway.
Parian
A semi matt type of porcelain produced with feldspar and that does not require a glaze.
Parisienne
See fashion doll.
Parure / demi parure
A jewellery set usually comprising a matching necklace earring a pair of bracelets and a brooch a demi parure is typically just two items such as a necklace and earrings.
Parquetry
Decorative veneers of wood laid in a geometric pattern.
Pashmina
A fine shawl made from the fine under belly hair of Himalayan mountain goat.
Paste
The mixture of ingredients that make up porcelain. Also a compound of glass used to make imitation gemstones.
Patchwork
Textile made by piercing together scraps of fabric, often used for making quilts.
Pate
Crown piece found under the wig that covers the hole in some dolls’ heads; made from cardboard, cork, or plaster.
Pate-de-verre
(‘glass paste’) Translucent glass created by melting and applying powdered glass in layers or by casting it in a mould.
Pate-de-crystal
Glass that is crushed into fine crystals and then bound together so that it can be moulded rather than having to be worked in its molten state.
Pate-sur-pate
19th century Sevres porcelain technique, much copied, of applying coloured clay decoration to the body before firing.
Pave
Setting that has been paved with snugly fitting gemstones, so that little or no metal shows through.
Peachbloom
Ceramic glaze derived from copper, ranging in hue from pinkish red to cloudy green, first seen in Chinese wares in the Qing Dynasty.
Pearlware
Fine English earthen ware developed by Wedgewood. Identified by its blue tinted glaze.
Peg doll or peg wooden
Early wooden doll with simple, peg joints.
Pegged furniture
Early joined furniture constructed by a system of mortises (slots) and tenons (tongues), held together by dowels (pegs).
Pendant
A general term applied to any kind of drop ornament pointing downwards.
Pendulum
A wooden or metal rod with a weighted end that controls the timekeeping of clocks.
Penny toy
Small and simple toys made from a variety of materials and designed to be sold for a penny.
Penwork
Type of decoration applied to japanned furniture, principally in England in the late 18th,early 19th century. Patterns in white japan were applied to a piece which had already been japanned black, and then the details and shading were added using black Indian ink with a fine quill pen.
Petit-feu
Low-fired enamel decoration on ceramics. The palette in much broader than the earlier grand-feu colours.
Petit point
Finely worked embroidery with stitches that only cross one wrap or weft thread
Petit sonnerie
Clock that strikes the hours and the quarters only, but usually repeats grande sonnerie.
Petuntse
The Chinese name for a Chinese stone.
Piano Baby
Collectors term for all-bisque porcelain figures of crawling or seated children, made by the Heubach factory in Thuringia and intended for display on a piano.
Pile weavings
Rugs and carpets made with knots, clipped to create a pile.
Pinchback
Alloy of copper and zinc, invented c 1720 as a substitute for gold and widely used in jewellery.
Pinion
A small toothed wheel that acts a gear in the clock movement.
Pitch
The black or dark brown sticky substance made by distilling tar or turpentine, used to fill the base of thinly gauged silver candlesticks to give them weight and stability.
Phiale mesomphalos
An ancient Greek metal vessel used for pouring libations and also for making offerings at religious sanctuaries. The mesomphalos is the raised central boss.
Pietra dura
Italian term for hardstone, applied to a mosaic pattern of semi-precious stones and marble.
Pique
Technique in which a material such as tortoiseshell is inlaid with metal decoration.
Planishing
Technique of producing a smooth finish on metal work by gently hammering or rolling the surface.
Plank seat
Originally American, this type of seat was adopted by some makers of English Windsor chairs. The seat was made of a single piece of wood and, unlike the English Windsor seat, had no bottoming shape adzed out of it, although most designs had a rolled edge at the front.
Plastic
Synthetic material with a polymeric structure, which can be easily moulded when soft and then set.
Plate
A generic term for gold and silver vessels not to be confused with Sheffield plate or plated wares.
Platform base
Three- or four-cornered flat table bases supporting a central pedestal and standing on scrolled or paw feet.
Plique-a-jour
Enamelling technique in which a structure of metal strips is laid on a metal background to form enclosed areas which are then filled with transparent enamels. When the backing is removed, a transparent ‘stained glass’ effect is achieved.
Plumbago
Another word for graphite.
Plum pudding
Type of figuring in some veneers, produced by dark oval spots in the wood. Found particularly in mahogany.
Plush
A fabric with a long cut pile used to make teddy bear fur.
Plywood
Form of laminated wood with the grain of the alternate layers set at right angles.
Point-de-gaze
Type of lace developed in Belgium in the latter half of the 19th century, so-called because of its light, gauzy appearance.
Pole screen
Small adjustable screen mounted on a pole and designed to stand in front of an open fire to shield a lady’s face from the heat.
Polychrome
Decoration executed in more than two colours.
Pontil iron
Rod attached to the base of a glass object to support it while it is finally shaped.
Pontil mark
Mark left on the base of a glass object by the pontil iron.
Porringer
A two handled dish sometimes with a lid for holding porridge or broth.
Portrait doll
Doll intended to represent a particular person sometimes similar only in name. The term is used to describe early Jumeau dolls.
Post- modernism
Reaction against Modernism, which began during the 1950s and promoted and promoted the reintroduction of bright colours and decorative, often with architectural-style components.
Potash glass
Strong type of glass made from potash, lime and silica. Also called verre de fougere or Waldglas.
Pot board
Lowes shelf of a court cupboard or open dresser.
Pounce box/pot
Cylinder or bottle with sprinkler for ‘pounce’, a powder used to dry ink before blotting paper was invented.
Poured wax
Term for dolls with hollow or shoulder heads, made by repeated dipping into molten wax until a substantial shell is achieved, which is then painted.
Powder-blue
Mottled blue ground achieved by blowing dry pigment onto a ceramic body through gauze.
Powder flask
Device for measuring out a precise quantity of priming powder, suspended from a musketeer’s belt or bandolier and often ornately decorated. Sporting flasks are often made of antler and carved with hunting scenes.
Powder horn
Cow horn hollowed out, blocked at the wide end with a wooden plug and fitted with a measuring device at the narrow end, used by musketeers for dispensing a precise quantity of priming powder.
Prattware
A type of cream ware decorated with a high fired palette of blue green and yellow.
Prayer-rug
Usually small rug on which Muslims kneel to pray. Many incorporate a mihrab or arch.
Premiere-partie
The upper layer, normally of brass, of Boulle work; the pattern to be cut was attached to it.
Pressed wax (solid wax)
Term for dolls with solid carved-wax heads, made prior to the introduction of poured wax.
Press-moulding
Technique that involves pouring molten glass into a metal mould and pressing it to the sides using a metal plunger. Also refers to the moulding of ceramic figures or applied ornament by pressing clay into an absorbent mould.
Pricket
Metal spike on a candlestick for securing the candle.
Prie-dieu
Chair with a low seat and a tall back designed for prayer. Usually dating from the 19th century.
Printie/printy
Circular or oval hollow cut into glass for decorative effect, sometimes called a lens.
Prochous
Ancient Greek pitcher.
Protome
Ancient Greek head and shoulders bust, often with a flat back.
Proto-porcelain
Early high-fired stoneware that preceded true porcelain, developed in China as kilns became more efficient and capable of reaching higher temperatures.
Provenance
The history of an object. This might include when, where and by whom it was made and its previous owners. Good provenance can add interest and value to a piece.
Prunt
Blob of glass applied to the stem of a drinking vessel both as decoration and to stop the glass from slipping in the hand. Sometimes impressed with a decorative stamp to form a ‘raspberry’.
Puce
Purple-red colour formed from manganese oxide, which was used on ceramics.
Pummel
Also spelt pommel. There are three meanings: (1) a type of finial often called a poppyhead found on a pew or a bench end; (2) the rounding off of a piece of turned part with the square; (3) a type of handle.
Pumpkin head
Type of wax-over-papier-mache doll with moulded hair, popular in Britain and Germany in the mid-19th century.
Punch bowl
Large bowl on a stepped or moulded foot.
Punch’ong
Type of greyish-green celadon stoneware, with stamped decoration filled with slip. Made in Korea from the 14th to the 20th century.
Puzzle jug
Jug with a globular body, openwork neck, and between three and seven spouts.
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Qianjian palette
Range of light brown colours used in the decoration of Chinese ceramics.
Qilin
Chinese mythical beast. Also spelt kilin.
Qingbai
White ware produced by potters in the Jingdezhen are of China throughout the Song dynasty.
Quadrant
A quarter circle marked with degrees of a circle and with a weighted line or pointer used as a navigational aid.
Quaich
Type of silver drinking bowl with flat handles, originating in Scotland.
Quatrefoil
Shape or design incorporating four foils or lobes.
Quartetto tables
A set of four graduating matching tables that can be stored inside each other.
Quarter-veneered
Four consecutively cut, and therefore identical, pieces of veneer laid at opposite ends to each other to give a mirrored effect.
Queens ware
Alternative name given by Wedgwood to its cream ware made in honour of Queen Charlotte who commissioned a cream ware tea service from the company in 1765.
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Rack
The structure comprising several shelves at the top of some dressers.
Rail
A structural member that joins the vertical stiles of a framework or carcase; also the horizontal members enclosing a panel.
Raising
Process of making hollow-wares by hammering sheet metal over a stake or anvil. The metal in annealed to make it easier to work.
Random width
Boards are of random width when the widths are different from each other.
Rat-tail
Tapering rib strengthening the bowl and stem of a spoon.
Redware
Stone ware generally unglazed and often decorated with applied motifs in relief.
Re-entrant corner
A corner that curves back on itself.
Refectory table
Term used to describe the long rectangular table of the 17th century and later.
Reformation
Religious and political movement in 16th-century Europe that began as a attempt to reform the Roman Catholic Church and resulted in the establishment of the Protestant churches.
Regence
The forerunner of the Rococo style in France, characterized by symmetrical, heavy forms typical of the Baroque but with elaborate scrollwork. It takes its name from the regency of Philippe, duc d’Orleans (1715-23).
Register plates
Scale of a barometer against which the mercury level is read.
Regulator
Extremely accurate clock, used as a standard by which other clocks may be set.
Reign marks
Four- or six-character marks on Chinese porcelain or bronzes denoting the name of the emperor and, on six-character, the dynasty. They do not necessarily indicate the period of manufacture as they were often copied.
Religieuse
Early clocks of the Louis XIV period in France, influenced by the sober Protestantism of the Dutch taste.
Repeat work
Device that enables a clock to repeat the last hour or quarter-hour when a cord is pulled or a button depressed.
Repousse
(‘pushed out’) Term for embossing. More precisely the secondary process of chasing metal that has been embossed to refine the design.
Reproduction
A piece which is a copy of an earlier design.
Reserve
Space within a ground, left blank for decoration.
Restoration
Re-establishment of the monarchy in1660 in Britain; also the reign of Charles II (1660-85). Also the reestablishment of the monarchy in France under Louis XVIII (1814-24) and Charles X (1824-30).
Reticulation
Intricate pierced decoration on thin walled porcelain.
Revocation of the Edict of Nantes
The Edict of Nantes, promulgated by Henry IV in 1598, granted freedom of religion to French Protestants. Its revocation by Louis XIV in 1685 led to many French Protestants (Huguenots) fleeing religious persecution and settling in England and The Netherlands.
Ribbon plates
Plates with pierced borders through which to thread ribbons for hanging on a wall.
Right
Dealers term for something which is genuine and authentic as opposed to wrong which means it is faked altered or restored.
Rinceaux
Type of scrolling foliage ornament.
Ring method
Wooden animals for arks and farmyards, made in Germany in the 19th and early 20th centuries using the ring method. A large circle of wood was turned to produce the animal in cross-section. The animals were then cut from the ring in slices. The legs were separated and details, such as the ears and horns, were added.
Riven
Refers to timber that has been split along its grain by inserting a riving iron or froe at one end and hitting it with a hammer. As the only alternative was laborious pitsawing this method was employed whenever possible, especially as the timber so produced was as strong as it could be.
Robin’s-egg glaze
Speckle dark blue and turquoise glaze developed in China during the 18th century.
Rocaille
Shell and rock motifs found in Rococo work.
Rod bear
Early type of Steiff teddy bear with metal rod jointing.
Romayne
A decorative feature consisting of small heads in profile enclosed in a medallion; popular in the early 16th century.
Rose Pompadour
French term for the rich, deep-pink glaze introduced at the Sevres porcelain factory as a group colour. Named after Louis XV’s famous mistress, the Marquise de Pompadour.
Rosso antico
Red-bodied ware developed by Wedgewood in the late 18th century.
Rouleau vase
Type of Chinese vase of cylindrical shape with a rolled over rim.
Roundel
A term generally applied to any circular decorative feature or motif; thus it includes medallions, paterae, and plaques.
Rule joint
A joint used along the meeting edges of the flap and the bed of a flap and the bed of a flap or gate-leg table.
Rummer
19th-century English low drinking goblet.
Runner
Name given to long, narrow rugs, generally c.2.6m long by 1-1.2m wide.
Runners
Strips of wood on which drawers slide.
Ruyi
Chinese presentation sceptre.
Ruyi clouds
Cloud-like decorative feature often used as a design in Chinese art.
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Sabot
French term for the gilt-bronze ‘shoe’ at the bottom of furniture legs.
Sabre leg
Outward-curving leg, shaped like the curved blade of a sabre, that became fashionable on late-18th- century Empire and Regency chairs.
Sacque
18th-century woman’s dress with drapes failing in long pleats at the back.
Safavids
Dynasty that ruled Persia (now Iran) from 1501 to 1732.
Salt
Collectors’ term for a salt-cellar.
Salt glaze
Thin, glassy glaze applied to some stoneware and produced by throwing salt into the kiln at the height of firing. The glaze may show a pitted surface, known as ‘orange peel’.
Salver
Flat, round dish, sometimes with feet, similar to a tray but smaller and without handles.
Sampler
Needlework picture incorporating different stitches and designs.
Sancai
Three-colour decorative feature often used as a design in Chinese art.
Sangam
Korean celadon wares inlaid with black-and-white clays.
Sang-de-bouef
Bright red glaze used extensively on Chinese ceramics during the Qing Dynasty.
Sautoir
A long chain with gems or pearls set at intervals along the length.
Savonnerie
French rug or carpet with a dense pile, named after the French carpet manufactory established in Paris during the early 17th century. The term is sometimes also applied to similar carpets made elsewhere in Europe.
Scagliola
Decorative material imitating marble or hardstone and made from hardened and polished plaster and chips of marble.
Scale pattern
Ornament of overlapping scales. Also called imbrications.
Scent bottle
A small portable flask often of flattened pear shape.
Schnelle
German term for a tall stoneware tankard with tapered sides made in the Rhineland, especially in Sieburg during the second half of the 16th century.
Schwarzlot
German term for black lead enamel painting on porcelain and glass used from the second half of the 17th century.
Scratch
More properly, a scratchstock. A sharpened metal blade which was gripped in a wooden handle and shaped to the profile of the required moulding. It was then drawn along the part requiring to be moulded.
Scratchweight
Note made of the weight, in ounces and pennyweight troy, of a silver article at essay, usually handengraved lightly on the base or reverse.
Seams
Visible joins in metalwork that has been cast in several pieces.
Seat rail
Framework that supports the seat of a chair and holds the legs together.
Secessionist
Movement formed in opposition to established artistic taste, which emerged in Munich, Berlin, and Vienna toward the end of the 19th century. It advocated a purer, more abstract style of design.
Secretaire
Writing cabinet with a fall front that lets down to provide a writing surface.
Secretaire a abattant
Type of writing cabinet with a fall front and resting on a chest of drawers or small cupboard.
Sennin
Japanese immortal.
Settle
A long wooden seat with a back and arm and possibly a box seat.
Sextant
Navigational instrument formed from one sixth of a circle.
S. F. B. J
Societe de Fabrication de Bebes et Jouets; association of doll makers founded 1899 by the merger of Jumeau.
Sgraffito
Form of ceramic decoration incised through a coloured slip, revealing the ground beneath.
Shagreen
Untanned leather, originally the skin of the shagri, a Turkish wild ass, but now used to include sharkskin.
Shaker furniture
Made by an American religious sect, more properly known as The United Society of Believers. Their leader, Mother Ann Lee, said ‘Do all your work as though you had 1,000 years to live, and as you would if you knew you must die tomorrow’, and this philosophy produced some of the most functional yet beautiful furniture ever made.
Shakers
Religious communities in North America, noted for their simple, pareddown furniture and artifacts.
Shako
A 19th century military cap of conical or cylindrical shape with a peak.
Shakudo
Japanese term of on alloy of copper and gold.
Shamshir
Indian sword.
Sheffield plate
Silver substitute used from c. 1740, made by binding and fusing together sterling silver and copper.
Shelf clock
American term for a bracket or mantel clock.
Shellac
Resinous varnish obtained from the lac insect and used in japanning.
Shibayama
Japanese term for lacquer applied with semi-precious stones and ivory.
Shibuichi
Japanese term of an alloy of copper and gold.
Shiraz
Centre of distribution in central iran for nomadic rugs decorated with simple geometric designs
Shishi
Budhist mythical beast, a lion-dog, used on Oriental porcelain.
Shoe
Projecting piece rising from the back rail of a chair seat into which the base of the splat is fixed.
Shoulder
Outward projection of a vase under the neck or mouth.
Shoulder plate
Area of a doll’s shoulder-hear below the neck.
Shou symbol
Chinese decorative motif, symbolizing longevity.
Shoulder-head
Term for a doll’s head and shoulder below the neck.
Shoulderplate
Area of a doll’s shoulder-head below the neck.
Show-wood
A term usually applied to upholstered furniture to define wood that is exposed to view, as opposed to those parts covered by upholstery.
Shu fu
Opaque white Chinese porcelain with a greyish-white glaze and incised with the characters shu and fu, meaning ‘Privy Council’.
Side chair
Chair without arms, designed to stand against the wall.
Signer
A guitar never used by a famous musician but signed by and associated with him or her due to its make.
Silvered brass
Brass that is coloured silver by the application of a silvering compound.
Silver gilt
Silver with a thin layer of gold.
Silver resist
Decorative technique normally found on pearlware ceramics c 1800-20, whereby a design is painted in wax onto an object and then silver lustre is applied to the surface. When the wax is burnt off in the kiln, the painted design appears on a silver lustre ground.
Singerie
French term for ornament featuring monkeys (singes), popular during the 18th century combined with chinoiserie decoration.
Siphon tube
U-shaped tube fitted into wheel barometers where the level of mercury in the short arm is used to record.
Skeleton clock
Clock with pierced or fretted frame revealing the mechanism.
Skiver
The sheepskin leather inset found in the top of writing tables and desks.
Slab-building
Early method of forming ceramics objects by assembling slabs of clay and luting them together.
Slat-back chair
Type of 17th-century chair with slats across the back.
Sleeping eyes
Eyes that can move from open to closed, mainly found on French bisque dolls.
Sleeve vase
Tall vase of long thin tubular shape.
Slip
A smooth mixture of clay and water used to decorate pottery and in the production of slip cast wares.
Slip casting
Method of manufacturing thin bodied vessels by pouring slip into a mould.
Slip trailing
Application of slips to a ceramics form to decorate the surface.
Slip-in seat
See drop in seat.
Slip ware
Type of red-bodied earthenware decorated largely with slip in contrasting colours.
Slit head
Type of wax-over-papier-mache doll made in Britain in the early 19th century.
Slop-bowl
Bowl for tea rinsings.
Slot dovetail
A form of dovetail joint used to join claw legs to the central pillar or support of a tripod table.
Snuff-box
Hinged box, often highly decorated, used from the early 18th century for storing snuff.
Snuffer
Cone shaped metal implement used to extinguish candles
Socket head
Type of doll’s head in which the base of the neck is rounded so that it fits into a cup shape at the top of the body.
Socle
Block or slab that forms the lowest part of the pedestal of a sculpture or decorative vase.
Soda glass
Formed by the addition of soda to the batch to produce a light glass with a yellow or brown tint.
Sofa table
Rectangular table with two hinged flaps at the ends designed to stand in front of a sofa.
Soft paste porcelain
Porcelain made from kaolin made from kaolin powdered glass soapstone and clay.
Solder
Lead applied to repair cracks and holes in silver.
Solid wax
See pressed wax.
Soumakh
A type of flatwoven textile made by the weft-wrapping technique, used especially in the Caucasus and north-western Persia.
Spade foot
Tapering foot of square section.
Spade hands
Crude hands with little detail, found on early German wooden dolls.
Spandrel
The triangular bracket found at the top of legs.
Spadroon
Cut and thrust sword.
Sparrow-beak jug
Jug with a simple triangular spout.
Spelter
Zinc alloy, an inexpensive alternative to bronze. Used in the production of figures.
Spindle
Term used to denote object in the shape of a spinner’s spindle. Specifically the upright of a spindle-back chair.
Split turning
The wood block to be turned is split centrally lengthwise and the halves are glued together with a piece of paper interposed. The glued-up block is turned when the glue has set, and the two halves afterwards separated to give split turnings.
Sponging
Application with a sponge of colour or a glaze to a ceramic piece after firing to produce a mottled appearance.
Sprigged ware
Pottery decorated with ornaments applied with slip.
Spring
Applied or relief ceramic ornament, not necessarily consisting of springs of foliage, made by pressmoulding.
Squab cushion
Loose flat cushion on the seat of a chair.
Square joint
Early form of joint used on the flaps of flap and gate-leg tables.
Staining (glass)
A method of colouring glass with metal oxides which are painted on and then fired
Stampino
Italian term for blue-and-white stencil decorations, used on porcelain made at the Italian factory of Doccia factory.
Standard
Required amount of pure silver in an alloy.
Stereograph
Photograph made of two images taken from slightly different viewpoints to give the impression of depth.
Stile
The principal vertical members of a framework in panelled construction.
Stiles
Back uprights on a chair and other pieces of furniture.
Stipple engraving
Method of decorating glass by tapping a hard steel or diamond point against the surface to build up a pattern of small dots.
Stippling
Technique of creating intricate painted designs on ceramics by applying dots of colour with the point of a brush.
Stirrup cup
Silver or silver-gilt cup used for drinking prior to making a journey or going hunting. Usually shaped as the head of an animal.
Stock
The wooden part of a firearm to which the metal barrel and firing mechanism are attached.
Strap hinge
A hinge with a long arm or band; used during the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries.
Strapwork
Decorative ornament resembling a series of thongs, rings, and buckles, used mainly in the 16th and 17th centuries and revived in the 19th century.
Streamlining
Style with flowing curved lines and aerodynamic form, prevalent in American design of the Art Deco period.
Strike/silent
Lever or hand on the dial of a clock that enables the striking mechanism to be shut off.
Strip quilt (‘strippy’)
Quilt composed of alternating strips of different fabrics, either solid colours or prints. Very often used as the back of a patchwork or floral quilt.
Studio pottery
Pottery or glass that has been individually designed and crafted.
Stumpwork
Raised needlework on a ground of cotton or cotton wool, formed as three-dimensional panels and often mounted as pictures. Popular during the 17th century.
Stuff-over
Descriptive of upholstered furniture where the covering extends over the frame of the seat.
Stumpwork
Embroidery which incorporates distinctive areas of raised decoration, formed by padding certain areas of the design.
Subsidiary dial
A secondary dial set in the main that indicates seconds or the date.
Sugan
Twisted lengths of straw referring to a type of Irish country chair that has a seat of this type.
Sulphide
Small, opaque-white medallion made of china clay or glass paste enclosed in transparent glass.
Sumptaury laws
Laws forbidding the import, ownership, or manufacture of luxury goods.
Susani
Central Asian hand-embroidered bridal bed-cover.
Sussex chair
Chair with an ash frame and rush seat, based on a traditional country design and popularized by William Morris in the 19th century.
Swags
Decorative ornaments similar to a festoon made up of fruit flowers husks or nuts or a loop of cloth.
Swan-neck cresting
Type of broken pediment with two S-shaped curved, one of which is reversed.
Swan-neck handle
Curved handle, popular in the 18th century.
Swivel head
Type of doll’s head made separately from the shoulders and fitted later, allowing the head to swivel.
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Table ambulante
French term for a small portable occasional table.
Tablet back
Also called tablet top. Any chair in which the top back rail is in the form of a rectangular panel.
Taffeta
The name given to a variety of fine silk fabrics, usually plain but sometimes patterned. A gum-like substance was applied to some teffetas to give a shiny finish.
Takamakie
Technique used in Japanese lacquerware in which the design is built up and modelled in a mixture up and modelled in a mixture of lacquer and charcoal or clay dust, and then often gilded
Tallcase clock
See long case clock.
Taotie
Chinese mythical animal that devours wrong-doers.
Taperstick
Small candlestick for holding a taper (thin candle) for lighting piper and melting sealing wax.
Tassie
Cameo portraits made from a glass paste cast in a mould, produced in Scotland in 1766.
Tavern clock
Weight-driven wall clock, with a large dial and long trunk.
Tazza
Wide but shallow bowl on a sterm with a foot; ceramic and metal tazzas were made in antiquity and the form was revived by Venetian glassmakers in the 15th century. Also made in silver form the 16th century.
Teapoy
Piece of furniture in the form of a tea caddy on legs, with a hinged lid opening to reveal caddies, mixing bowl and other tea drinking accessories
Tear
Tear-drop-shaped air bubble in the stem of an early 18th century wine glass, from which the air-twist evolved.
Tenmoku
Japanese term for a molasses-coloured glaze, made from iron oxide.
Tenons
See pegged furniture.
Terracotta
A red earth ware which fired and usually unglazed.
Tester
Wooden canopy or ceiling over a bed, supported by two or four posts hence full tester or half tester.
Tete-a-tete
Tea or coffee set for two people.
Theodolite
Sophisticated form of surveying instrument used to measure angles of elevation and horizontal angles.
Thrown ware
Hollow vessels made by hand on a wheel.
Throwing
The technique of shaping ceramics vessels by hand on a rotating wheels.
Thrown chair
Chair constructed from turned pieces of wood, made in Britain from the 16th century.
Thumbpiece
Flange attached to a hinged lid, which, when pressed by the thumb, raises the lid.
Thuyawood
Reddish-brown wood with distinctive small bird’s eye markings, imported from Africa and used as a veneer.
Tiki
Symbol of the procreative power of the Maori god tane.
Timepiece
Clock that does not strike or chime.
Tin glaze
Glassy opaque white glaze of tin oxide re-introduced to Europe in the 14th C by Moorish potters; the characteristic glaze of delftware faience and maiolica.
Tin plate
Toys made from thin steel covered with a coating of tin to guard against rust which could then be painted or decorated with lithography.
Toadback moulding
The section of this moulding appears as two shallow ogee mouldings joined by a beading; it was sometimes used for chair legs in the late 18th century.
Togidashi
Japanese lacquer technique in which further layers of lacquer are added to hiramake ( QV ) then polished flush with the original surface.
Toleware
Items made from tinplated sheet iron which is varnished and then decorated with brightly coloured paints.
Tooled
Gilding that has been worked with a tool into a decorative pattern.
Tombak
Alloy of copper and zinc.
Topsy-turvy dolls
Rag doll that has two torsos, each with a different head, one hidden beneath the reversible skirt.
Torchere
Candlestand.
Tortoiseshell ware
Creamware decorated with mingled glazes to produce a variegated effect.
Tosei Gusoku
Japanese term meaning modern equipment used to describe a new style of armour introduced in the late 16th century.
Touch
Maker’s mark stamped on much, but not all, early English pewter. Their use was strictly controlled by the pewtere’s. Their use was strictly controlled by the pewterer’s company of London: early examples consist of initials, later ones are more elaborate and pictorial, sometimes including the maker’s address.
Toys
Small, inexpensive items, such as buckles and buttons mass produced in silver and brass in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Also small porcelain novelties.
Trafalgar chair
Type of dinning chair with sabre legs and a ropetwist bar, made during the regency period to commemorate the battle of Trafalgar.
Trailing
Method of decorating glass by laying molten glass onto the body in a line, spiral, or lattice pattern. The trails are sometimes combed to create festoons.
Train
A set of cog wheels and pinions in a clock.
Transfer printing
A method of decorating ceramic objects.
Transitional
In French furniture-making, style created from the fusion of Neo-classical decoration with Rococo forms.
Trefoil
A motif incorporating three lobes to the vessel.
Treen
Small wooden domestic objects sometimes in the shape of fruit.
Trefid
Spoon with a broad, flat stem ending in a trefoil shape.
Trefoil
Decorative motif shaped like clover, with three pronounced lobes.
Trelliswork
Geometric decoration in the form of trellis.
Trembleuse
French term for a cup and saucer with a raised rim that holds the cup steady too avoid spillages.
Tripod table
Small table with a round top supported by a three-legged pillar, originally made for serving tea.
Trompe l’oeil
Pictorial decoration intended to deceive the eye.
Trophy
An arrangement of either weapons or armour, or both; or in some instances groups of musical instruments. They were carved, inlaid or painted as ornamental compositions.
A la troubadour
French version of the Gothic Revival style.
Trumeau
Section of wall between two openings a pier mirror.
Trunk
Middle section of a longcase clock, either solid or glazed and usually with a door at the front.
Tsuba
Guard of a Japanese sword, usually consisting of an ornamented plate.
Tube lining
Type of ceramic decoration in which thin trails of slips are applied as outlines to areas of coloured glaze.
Tudric
Range of Celtic-inspired art Nouveau pewter of high quality designed for mass-production by Archibald knox and others, and retailed through liberty & Co.
Tumbler cup
Round-bottomed drinking vessel weighted at the base so that it will always return to an upright position if upturned.
Tunbridge ware
Objects decorated with pictures or designs made from bundles of differently coloured wood cut in sections.
Tureen
A large bowl on a foot used for serving soup.
Turned furniture
Pieces made by turning on a lathe.
Two-faced doll
Doll with a revolving head, showing different expressions or colours at the front and back. Three-faced dolls were also made.
Tyg
Three-handled mug.
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Up/down dial
Subsidiary dial commonly found on marine chronometers, which indicates how much time remains before the clock must be wound.
Upholstery spring
Properly known as a double cone spring and in use from the late eighteenth century.
Ushabti
Literally answerer. Ancient Egyptian ceramic figure placed in a tomb to work in the afterworld in the place of the dead person it represented.
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Vaseline glass
Type of opalescent glass developed in Britain in the late 1870’s and designed to resemble 15th and 16th centuries Venetian glass.
Vase parlant
Glass vase of art Nouveau design engraved or decorated in cameo with verses from French poetry.
Verge escapement
Oldest form of escapement, found on clocks as early as 1300 and still in use in 1990. Consisting of a bar(the verge) with two flag-shaped pallets that rock in and out of the teeth of the crown or escape wheel to regulate the movement.
Vernier scale
Short scale added to the traditional 3 in (7.5cm) scale on stick barometers to give more precise readings than had previously been possible.
Vernis Martin
Type of Japanning or imitation lacquerwork invented by the Martin family in Paris in the 18th century.
Verre eglomise
Painting on glass. Often the reverse side of the glass is covered in gold or silver leaf through which a pattern is engraved and then painted black.
Vesta case
Ornate flat case of silver or other metal for carrying vestas, an early form of match. Used from the mid 19th century.
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