The most common of all transfer patterns, blue willow was first produced at the Caughley Pottery in 1780 and is still made today. The pattern was derived from the Chinese by Thomas Turner. His busy, crowded composition is a westernization of the sparer, more economical Chinese design (oriental wares made for export were always more heavily decorated than those made for domestic use), and it caught European taste so well that it was widely produce by factories in England, Germany, Holland, Japan, and, later on, America. The pattern depicts three figures, a bridge, a pagoda, birds, and trees in a Chinese landscape. According to legend, it tells the story of a pair of lovers fleeing from an angry father: the gods changed them into birds to enable them to escape him. A nice, romantic nineteenth century story that is purely European in concept: China is a land of arranged marriages, not of romantic love.
Staffordshire was the center of the pottery industry in England, and many factories operated there from the mid-18th century to the present day. The development of transfer printing (see below) allowed these potteries to become among the earliest mass manufacturers, and their affordable products rapidly swept pewter and treen off the tables of the English and American middle-class households. From the 1780s, Staffordshire factories produced huge quantities of transferware for the domestic and export markets. To protect these profitable industries, English colonial laws forbad the development of ceramic factories in America, so shiploads of blue and white crossed the Atlantic. Blue was the most popular color, partly because cobalt was the easiest pigment to fire, but transferware was also produced in green, magenta, and black. Designs that required fine lines, such as a ship's rigging, reproduced most clearly in black.
A delftware dish decorated with a border of blue brush strokes.
A decorative heat treatment applied to metal weapons which also protect from rust.
Repeated bell-turning, in the form of bobbins, one on top of the other. It looks a bit like a stick made of balls and was much used on C17th furniture, on legs and stretchers .
A raised and rebated moulding , projecting beyond the face of the frame into which it is inserted, and which was often used to cover a joint between two surfaces.
A style common on Dutch furniture, and cabinet furniture of the Rococo period, this is characterised by the vertical swelling of concave and convex curves on the fronts and/or sides, giving a bulbous appearance.
Porcelain made by the addition of large quantities of bone ash.
An ornament, generally carved and most often circular, which applied over joints or used decoratively at the top of legs etc.
Foliate and figural marquetry of tortoise-shell (which is actually almost always turtle-shell) and brass (and sometimes pewter, mother-of-pearl and ivory) made fashionable in France (but not invented) by the maitre ebiniste Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732). Boulle work is called premiere-partie is used when the ground is brass, and contra-partie when it is tortoise-shell; such pieces were often made in "pairs".
So called because of the bow-like appearance the slightly convex or segmental shape gives to the front of a cabinet or chest In the C18th, this was often referred to as 'sweep-front'.
A type of spring-driven clock, designed to stand on a surface.
A flat two-piece (usually symmetrical) foot, used on cabinet furniture, set at a corner (usually the front) and shaped like a right-angled bracket.
A fancy name for an Inscrolled foot , also known as a Knurled foot, and a Spanish foot.
A term usually applied to cabinets, chests, bookcases etc. of which the ends are recessed in relation to the middle, therefore making the middle part protrude. Where the centre is recessed, the piece is known as a Reverse break-front. (Also known as a Wing bookcase).
A small movable table with drop leaves or rectangular tilting top on a tripod base.
An alloy of tin antimony and copper, used during the 19th century as a substitute for pewter.
A nickel alloy which was used in the mid C19th as a substitute for silver, until it was superseded by the much cheaper electro-plating process. Pieces made in British Plate often carry fake hallmarks intended to make the item appear to be genuine silver.
So called because one of its primary purposes was to provide a surface for brushing down clothes, this is a wooden slide found in some chests of drawers, whch pulls forward/slides out of a slot in the top, to provide extra working surface.
This is a term loosely applied to any furniture composed of more than one tier, whether or not the resultant sections are enclosed. Some such furniture has specific and correct names. See Court cupboard ,Press (cupboard) and Livery cupboard , for example. As with all these very early pieces, the terms are rather loose, and often the descriptions found in early inventories etc. are rather vague.
A C17th foot, similar to the ball foot also in use at the time, but where the "ball" appears to be slightly squashed. Quite often found on Victorian pine furniture.
A piece of furniture, with drawers, performing the function of a desk. It has either a fall-front , which slopes at 45 degrees, a cylinder front, or a tambour front.
Another name for burr, principally used in the US.
A term usually applied to a type of veneer , or perhaps more properly the marks in the veneer itself. The veneer is cut from a knot or other protruding growth on the tree, and as a result displays highly attractive graining. Walnut is especially popular for this, and bird's eye maple is another, particularly well-known type of burr veneer.
A simple glue joint between two surfaces, joined with no overlap, tenons , or shoulders.