» Antiques  

Antique Glossary

Search By Alphabetic Order

A rounded foot resting on a wooden disc, rather like the padded foot of an animal, and very similar to a club foot , but less elegant, and usually larger.

A durable and malleable material made from paper or cardboard and glue-size, popular in the C18th and C19th for architectural mouldings, boxes and smaller items of furniture. Also known as Carton Pierre.

when a surface has been partially gilded to highlight features.

Geometric veneered surface decoration of various coloured woods. See Marquetry .

Self-explanatory really, it looks like an animal's paw, and often has claws. There is a variant called a hairy-paw foot, which is similar, but with the addition of, well, hairs!

See Beading .

Basically something that other things stand on, such as a pedestal desk, which has two of them, or a pedestal table which has one. Also a stand for a vase, or sculpture, etc.

A Pembroke table is similar to, but not the same as a Sutherland . It has a wide rectangular top, with narrow, hinged leaves ; usually it has four delicate and fine legs, and is seldom more than three feet in width when extended. Usually rectangular, sometimes, and more desirably, they can be oval or round. First recorded in about 1750, and according to Sheraton, so called because the first one was ordered by the Countess of Pembroke. Chippendale is known to have supplied one with a drawer in 1766, and towards 1790, harlequins began to appear. It was particularly popular in the latter half of the C18th, but was made right up to the end of the C19th.

Actually, not just for finials , this is a general term used to describe any form of suspended (hanging down) decoration. On furniture, repeated pendants beneath a rail may form an apron . It's also occasionally used as another term for a chain . (See finial).

Refers to a piece made at the time when its style first originated.

Resembling a crusty pie-crust, this is the shaped carved/moulded edge of a circular table top (usually a tripod) or of a tray. It was popular from the mid C18th, and copies the shape of earlier silver salvers.

A flat-faced column, usually of a Classical order, and usually projecting from a wall. It was often used decoratively in low relief, and almost never as a means of support.

A term generally applied to a lid, in which four sloping or hipped sides rise to a ridge or flat centre. For obvious reasons, it's called Pyramidal if the slopes meet at a point.

Largely out of use nowadays, this is a term applied to gold and silver vessels, and is not to be confused with " Sheffield Plate ", or electroplated items generally.

The solid board on which some furniture rests instead of feet. Strictly-speaking the term is applied to the square, flat block at the bottom of a pillar or column (or a pedestal for that matter).

Much maligned for being cheap and nasty, which it often is, plywood was first developed by the Ancient Egyptions some 3,500 years ago. Composed of layers, or "plys" of wood laid at 90° to each other, it has two inherent properties important in furniture making; it is extremely strong, and it does not (usually) warp or crack. Its first use in furniture dates back to the mid C18th, when the fashion for fretwork and Chinoiserie came about. Normal wood was useless for the fine patterns required, and ply was used instead.

In furniture, it's the bolt with a rounded or sometimes decorative head which is passed through a drawer front or similar, and which secures a bail handle , thus forming what most people call the handle. When applied to a sword or dagger, it's the terminal piece of the weapon, found at the end of the handle, and is usually circular.

There are two types of porcelain; hard-paste, and soft-paste. The easiest way to learn to tell the difference, is to find some broken porcelain of each type, and to examine it thoroughly. Of course, read the following first! Hard-paste porcelain is fired at a much higher temperature than soft paste, and hence has a very cold feel to the touch. Chips from it are flint or glass-like; it has a hard, glittery glaze which is fused to the paste. Soft paste , fired at a lower temperature, was much less stable in the kiln, figures in particular were difficult to fire. Meissen was one of the factories which perfected this art, and no English figures can compare with them. A file will cut easily into soft paste (I suggest you don't try this at home!) and chips from it are granular. It feels warmer to the skin. Ones mouth is particularly sensitive to this, and with practice, it's quite easy to tell the difference between the two types by feeling them with the lips. Because of the difference in firing temperature, the glaze is softer, and does not fuse with the underlying paste in the same way as it does with hard paste. Glazes, therefore, have a tendency to pool and craze, and early soft paste was prone to discolouration. As a point of interest, soft paste was discovered/developed in the mid C18th by English potters in search of the method of making hard paste porcelain, the secret of which had long been guarded by the Chinese. Soft paste was generally superseded by hard paste, sometime known as "true" porcelain, by the late C18th, when the technique was perfected in Europe.

The name given to the low shelf (or tier) under a dresser or buffet on which flagons and pots were kept.

See Linen Press

See Linen Press:

Sometimes, incorrectly, known by the generic term buffet , this piece is a wholly enclosed cupboard, composed of two parts, the lower of which is entirely enclosed, with doors, and the upper of which is recessed, with either a flat or canted front.

See frieze

Winged cherubs: (singular Putto).

See Pitched top .