• Glossary
  • Glossary

Glossary

A
Acanthus
A classical decorative motif based on the leaves of the acanthus plant.
Abattant
The French term for a drop lid or fall front desk.
Adam Style
England, c. 1760-92Robert Adam (1728-92) was a Scottish architect and furniture designer. His designs promoted the Neoclassical style in England, Scotland and Russia and influenced development of the Federal Style in America. Common motifs include Roman influences such as framed medallions, vases, urns, sphinxes and griffins as well as flat grotesque panels, swags and ribbons.
Aesthetic Movement
England, United States, c. 1870-1900A design philosophy in literature, fine art, furniture and decorative based on arts for arts sake. An emphasis on Japanese design motifs developed from an increase in trade with the East during the 19th century. Patterns were often assymetrical and restrained, in stark contrast to the Classical revivals of the early 19th century. Furniture is characterized by intarsia, ebonized wood, contrasting materials and Japanese elements.
Almirah
An Indian term for a mobile wardrobe or cupboard made in wood or metal and used to store clothing or valuables. They are often highly decorated.
Ambrotype
This early photographic process used an underexposed glass negative backed with a dark painted surface in order to appear positive. They were produced in sizes and cases similar to daguerreotypes. It was invented by Frederick Scott Archer (British, 1813-57) in the 1848.
Antique
By American law, it refers to an object over 100 years of age.
Arcade
An architectural term to describe a row of arches, freestanding and supported on pillars or piers.
Armoire
A French term for a large freestanding closet for hanging clothes.
Art Deco
International, c. 1925-40This style originated at the historic Paris exposition of 1925 and featured the marriage of art and industry and the rejection of Art Nouveau. It introduced simple, streamlined forms that were interpreted in exotic woods and materials. By the 1930s, the sleek lines and geometric shapes of Art Deco were expressed in furniture, architecture and a wide variety of household objects.
Arts and Crafts
Britain, Canada, United States, Australia, c. 1880-1910A furniture, architecture and decorative arts movement that emerged in reaction to the style revivals prevalent during the Victorian era and the machine made goods of the Industrial revolution. It features simple forms, sparse ornamentation and exposed joinery. Famous proponents were William Morris and John Ruskin.
Art Nouveau
International, c. 1880-1914A French term meaning new art; this was a style of furniture, architecture, art and design. It features highly stylized, curvilinear designs often employing floral and fauna motifs. It is viewed as a bridge between Neoclassicism and modernism.
Aubusson
Refers to tapestries or carpets from Aubusson in central France. It also refers to textiles in the style of genuine Aubussons. Their origins date back to the 14th century and are distinguished by elaborate patterns and a pileless weave.
Azulejos
Spanish or Portuguese tin glazed wall, floor or ceiling tiles found on the exteriors and interiors of churches, palaces, public buildings and residences. They served as ornamentation as well as for temperature control. Their origins date back the 15th century Moors in Spain.
B
Baluster
A vase-shaped turned upright support as in a balustrade or table leg.
Banding
Strips of contrasting wood veneer used around the edges of drawer fronts and furniture surfaces to complement the main veneer.
Baroque
Europe, c.1600-1750 In furniture, this style favored flamboyant carving, painting, and gilding. Typical motifs included acanthus, shells, and elaborate scrolls.
Barred Door
A glass cabinet, secretary, and bookcase door with wood fretwork. Due to the high cost of glass, they were set into an intricate, cutout, lacy wooden framework.
Bed Warmer
An indispensable household item of colder climates, bed warmers were used to warm or dry out a bed before retiring. It consists of a round, metal container resembling a frying pan, to hold coals, fireplace embers or hot water. The hinged lid may be ornately decorated and pierced and the long handle was used to reposition the pan in the bed to avoid scorching the sheets. They were supplanted by hot water bottles.
Berainesque
Refers to the style of Jean Berain the Elder (French, 1640-1711) who was a designer, painter and engraver whose designs were highly influential in royal circles. His designs of light arabesques and playful grotesques figured predominately in the Regènce style and greatly influenced the development of the Rococo style.
Bergère
A French armchair in which the sides, seat and back are completely enclosed with caning or upholstery with an exposed wood frame. It was first designed during the Louis XV era in the early 18th century.
Betel or Paan
In Southeast Asia, the betel nut is cut into pieces with an instrument called a sarota and chewed as a digestive stimulant and mild narcotic. It turns the users gums blood red and rots the teeth. In Hinduism, it is also used as an offering.
Bevel
A slanted edge on any flat surface used for example on the border of a mirror.
Bidri
A metalwork technique unique to India and originated in the city of Bidar in the Deccan. Cast brass objects are engraved and inlaid with silver or copper wire. The item is then oxidized with a mixture of ammonium chloride, potassium nitrate, sodium chloride, and copper sulfate. This changes the brass into a beautiful black color while leaving the contrasting silver unaffected.
Biedermeier
Germany, Austria, c. 1815-48This furniture style, popular in Central Europe, was characterized by refined neoclassical designs with simple, clean lines. Ornamentation was kept to a minimum. Furniture makers used local woods including cherry, ash and oak in place of more expensive and heavily taxed mahogany imports. It corresponded with the Regency style in England, the Empire style in France and the Federal style in the United States.
Billet Bar
The horizontal iron rod that extends from the front of the andiron into the fireplace firebox, used to support the wood.
Birdcage Support
A space saving device for tables made of turned colonnettes and double blocked construction which allowed the table top to rotate and tilt.
Bird's Eye
A phenomenon creating a desirable wood feature found mostly in maple but also in Cuban mahogany, American beech, black walnut and yellow birch and white ash. It creates a distinctive pattern of swirling grain surrounding circular eye-like markings.
Block Front
A furniture form from 18th century America often seen in chests where the piece is segmented into three sections, comprising a concave panel in the center flanked by convex panels.
Blue Willow
Developed in England by Josiah Spode at the end of the 18th century. The pattern is identified by a bridge with three figures, a willow tree, boat, teahouse and two birds in the sky. Many companies have used this pattern in their tablewares.
Bocage
Originating from the Norman word boscage, the word bocage is found in both the French and English languages. It refers to a small woodland or decorative grouping of leaves. Early Staffordshire pottery figures are often supported by a bocage and they came to be referred to as bocage figures orgroups.
Boiserie
A French term used to define ornately carved wood room panelling used on walls, doors, shelves, and mural or mirror frames. Boiseries were fashionable in 17th and 18th century France. Examples may be painted, unpainted or partially gilded.
Bolection Molding
An architectural term describing molding that projects from a panel.
Bombé
A French term meaning blown out which refers to the outward curving of a piece of furniture as found in some 18th century Dutch and French furniture.
Bonbonnière
A small box used to store sweets to perfume the breath. Popular in 18th century England and France, these these boxes were often of very high quality in expensive materials of the time, including gold and porcelain. Sugar was also an expensive commodity so owning a bonbonnière was a status symbol.
Bonheur du Jour
A popular 18th century furniture form in France, this small lady's writing desk features a fitted superstructure along the back of the desk surface. The slender legs may be joined by a decorative stretcher that acts as a shelf.
Bonnetière
A tall, narrow, single door cupboard, originally used to store the tall bonnets favored by ladies of Normandy and Brittany during the 17th-18th centuries.
Boulle
First developed in 10th century Italy, this technique was revived by André Boulle (1642-1732) in France. This form of marquetry inlay employs tortoiseshell, copper, brass or tin in elaborate patterns.
Broken Arch
In furniture and architecture, it is an arch with a gap at the apex. This gap is often centered with some decorative finial.
Brass
A metal alloy comprised of approximately 50% copper and 50% zinc.
Bronze
A metal alloy comprised of approximately 83% copper, 13% tin, 3% zinc and 1% lead.
Buffet
A French term for a small dining room sideboard used for dish storage, with drawers and cupboards and a flat surface for serving. The term is often used interchangeably with sideboard.
Buffet à Deux Corps
A French term for a two tiered buffet with the top cabinet being shallower in depth than the bottom.
Bun Foot
A type of furniture foot resembling a slighting flattened ball. A popular form used in the William and Mary period.
Burl
An abnormal growth on a tree such as found in the roots and crotches that produces a beautiful strongly grained wood prized in veneers.
Butter Lamp
Burned daily, this form of lamp is a common ritual object found in Buddhist temples and monasteries. It derives its name from the clarified yak butter traditionally used as fuel.
C
Cabinet Card
These cards were made by the same process as cartes de visites but were larger (W 4.5" H 6.5") allowing for logos and advertising of the photographer's services on the front and back. They were produced from 1866 to the 1920s.
Cabriole Leg
An elongated S-shaped furniture leg first made popular in late 18th century Europe.
Cachepot
A French term for an ornamental container for potted plants. From the wordcacher meaning to hide or conceal.
Cameo Glass
A glass technique using two or more layers of glass in the which the exterior layers are cut away in a low relief design to reveal the underlying contrasting colors. Émile Gallé (French, 1846-1904) was a famous producer of cameo glass.
Capital
In architecture, the capital surmounts the column.
Carte de Visite
This process was patented by André Adolphe Eugène Disdéri (French, 1819-89) in Paris in 1854. It was typically a thin albumen print (W 2.125" H 3.5") mounted on cardboard (W 2.5" H 4"). Its popularity reached Europe by 1859 and the United States by 1860. By the early 1870s it was replaced by the larger cabinet cards.
Cartouche
An architectural or design term to refer to an ornate scrolled frame typically oval in shape, that may contain a coat-of-arms, design or inscription.
Caryatid
A supporting column sculpted in the form of a draped female figure.
Cassapanca
Derived from the Italian cassone (chest) and banca (bench). A mid-Renaissance Italian, long, wooden, hinged-top chest with wooden arms and a back. It functioned as a bench as well as a chest. A prototype of the box settle.
Campagnola
Taken from Italian meaning country. In antique furniture it refers to a more rustic, informal type of furniture found in more rural areas of Italy.
Cascadian
United States, 1915-40See National Park Style.
Celadon
A semi-translucent glaze used on Chinese stoneware pottery, typically a pale gray-green color.
Cellarette or Cellaret
A portable chest, case, or sideboard cabinet for storing bottles, decanters and glasses; its form originating in the 18th century.
Celtic Revival
Britain, Ireland, United States, late 19th century-20th centuryA revival of Celtic ornament that was influenced by the rise of Irish nationalism, Art Nouveau and the Arts and Crafts movement. Ornamentation includes stylized interlacing designs and Celtic knots. American architect, Louis Sullivan's designs often include Celtic Revival motifs influenced by his Irish heritage.
Ceramic
A product of baked clay, porcelain, pottery, tile, or earthenware.
Chambu
A common spherical vessel, usually made of copper or brass and is used in Southern India by pilgrims to store a small sacred waters of the Ganges. These vessels are usually associated with the oldest city in India, Varanasi (Banaras/Benaras). In Northern India it is called a lota.
Champlevé
Is a technique of enamel decoration on metal objects, where the area is hollowed out by incising, filled with colored enamel and fired.
Charpoy
The British name for a (Manjaa) bed used in India consisting of a frame woven with rope and traditionally slept on without a mattress.
Chasing
A metalwork technique where the metal is shaped from the front side which is the opposite of repoussé and the two techniques are often used together.
Chiffonnier
In the period of Louis XV, it refers to a tall narrow chest with five drawers. In 19th century England, the term is applied to a sideboard with two doors below enclosing shelves. Sometimes there were shelves at the back and top of the sideboard to hold decorative pieces.
Chippendale
England, c. 1749-79Thomas Chippendale (1718-79) was a English designer and cabinet maker. The term Chippendale now identifies a type of furniture which draws from the styles of French Rococo, Gothic and Chinese designs. The furniture is heavier than the preceding Queen Anne style and includes design elements such as cabriole legs and ball and claw feet. The style was followed by American furniture designers during the Colonial period.
Cire Perdue
A French term for lost wax or lost mould casting in metalwork. The process involves making a mould in wax or another material of an artist's sculpture and casting the object in brass or bronze. The mould is destroyed or "lost" to reveal the casting.
Cloisonné
A technique of enamel decoration on metal objects where metal filaments are fused to the surface of an metal object in a decorative pattern. The area is filled in with enamel paste and fired.
Colonial
United States, c. 1620-1780This period encompasses Jacobean, Queen Anne and Chippendale styles.
Compass Seat
The seat of a chair is shaped like a horseshoe, rounded in front with in-curving sides.
Commode
A term for a low cabinet or chest of drawers, typically raised on short legs or feet originating in 17th century France. It also describes a bedroom cabinet to store a wash basin or chamber pot.
Console Table
A table meant to be displayed against a wall. It may be attached to the wall with only two front legs or freestanding on four legs.
Cornucopia or Horn of Plenty
A classical motif in the shape of a goat's horn with vegetables, fruit and flowers spilling forth. It is a symbol of abundance and fertility. A popular motif during the Rococo and Baroque periods.
Court Cupboard
A 16th or 17th century sideboard popular in the Elizabethean and Jacobean periods for displaying pewter, plates and other decorative objects, consisting of open shelves and sometimes a small cupboard in the upper section.
Crazing
A close network of very fine cracks on the top surface as in the glaze of ceramics.
Credenza
A sideboard or buffet used for storage, typically with drawers above cupboard doors and without legs.
Crystal
A type of fine quality glass created in 17th century England, that is highly transparent containing a larger proportion of lead oxide. The percentage of lead required to be defined as crystal varies according to the country. In the USA for example, it is considered crystal with a 1% lead content, while in Europe 10% is required.
D
Daguerreotype
An early photographic process where the image was captured on a light-sensitive silver coated metallic plate. It was first sucessfully produced in 1839 by Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (French, 1787-1851). Although the images were very clear they required a lengthy exposure and only one image could be made.
Dorje or Vajra
A symbolic ritual object used in Buddhism, Jainism and Hinduism. In Tibet it is called a dorje meaning indestructible and in India it is called a varje, meaning both thunderbolt and diamond. It is said to represent firmness of spirit and spiritual power. It is held in the right hand and used in conjunction with a ghanta in the left hand.
Davenport
A small writing desk usually with a sloped surface, gallery top, with drawers on one side and faux-drawers on the other. The name is believed to possibly originate from the English furniture firm Gillows who created this model for a Captain Davenport.
Delftware
Refers to the tin glazed earthenware produced by several factories in Delft, Holland beginning in the 16th century. The designs were greatly influenced by the popularity of the Chinese Exports arriving in Europe from the East India Company in the 17th century. Unique characteristics of Delftware are multiple glazings and a brilliant sheen.
Demilune
Half moon or crescent shape sometimes used to describe a furniture shape as in a demilune console table.
Design Registry Number
A comprehensive English design patent numbering system for the decorative arts that was established in 1842. A diamond shaped mark was used from 1842 to 1883, after which it was replaced by a six digit number. Not every piece registered is necessarily marked. Further, the registry date refers to the design patent date which may not necessarily be the year of manufacture as popular designs could be made for many years following registration.
Deutsche Blumen
A German term literally meaning German flowers and refers to a painting style of naturalistic flowers on porcelain and faience used by factories in Europe and England. It was first made popular by the Meissen factory around 1740 and was based on botanical illustrations of the period replacing the more stylised earlier floral images.
Die
The space between the cap and base of a pedestal. Also, a rectangular block on the top of a furniture leg.
Directoire
France, c. 1795-99A design period popular during the time of rule by the Directory characterized by Greco-Roman design elements inspired by recent excavations at Pompeii. This style transitioned between Louis XV and Empire periods.
Dovetail
A furniture making term to describe a joint that fits two pieces of wood tightly together. The wedge-shape resembles a dove's tail and is used to join corners of case pieces and drawers.
Drabware
A type of pottery named for its dark colored clay base which creates a distinctive putty color when fired. Staffordshire potters began producing a saltglaze drabware around 1720. Wedgwood drabware has a distinctive olive brown color and was introduced around 1811 primarily for tablewares. Other English potteries used this style of pottery including Spode and Ridgway.
Drop-Leaf
A space saving furniture device where hinged leaves drop to the side of the table when not in use.
Duchesse Brisée
A French term for a chaise longue with a separate footstool.
E
Eastlake
England, United States, 1870-1900Named for English writer and architect Charles Eastlake (1836-1906), who greatly influenced American design with his book Hints on Household Taste in Furniture, Upholstery, and Other Details (1868). Complex geometric shapes and patterning were made possible by modern machinery of the era. The spindles, low relief carvings and incised lines were designed to be more affordable and low maintenance than other Victorian Revival furniture. This style evolved during the late Victorian period and was also called Cottage Furniture.
Ebonized
A process of staining and polishing wood black to mimic the costly wood ebony. Popular during the Louis XIV period.
Edwardian
England, 1901-10Refers to the style of furniture during the reign of Edward VII. It is less ornate than the previous Victorian style but like the Victorian period it looked back to earlier styles as inspiration, in particular Chippendale and Hepplewhite. At this point mass production was in full force. Most pieces were veneered and banding was popular. The period was characterized by delicate and simple furniture designs.
Eglomisé
Refers to unfired painted glass panels, painted on the back so that the design shows through. These panels are then used as decorative inserts on mirrors, clocks and furniture pieces.
Empire
France, 1804-15A style of architecture and furniture popular during the rule of Napoleon I (1769-1821) based on Roman design elements. Its second phase was known as Directoire. Mahogany, ebony and ormolu mounts were common materials.
Enfilade
A French term used to refer to very long buffet that was popular in the 18th-19th centuries. It generally possesses four or more cupboard doors and sometimes includes drawers.
Escutcheon
The metal plate surrounding a keyhole to protect the wood.
Espagnolette
A decorative furniture mount, usually in the form of a female bust or mask but can also be male. It is cast to follow the curvature of the furniture surface.
Étagère
A French free standing, light piece of furniture or wall shelf used to display objects, made extensively in the late 18th century. It may also have drawers and cabinet doors. In England it is referred to as a what-not.
Étui
A French term for a small case, that is typically ornamental and designed to hold such objects as needles and scissors.
F
Faience
Named after its place of origin, Faenza, Italy, this earthenware features colorful opaque glazes. It is synonymous with majolica.
Fauteuil
A French open-armed salon chair with upholstered back and seat originating in the mid 18th century.
Federal
United States, c. 1780-1820Refers to a style of furniture, architecture and decoration characterized by an interpretation of classical decoration combined with typical American design elements. It incorporates Hepplewhite, Sheraton and Classical styles. The style is refined and rectilinear, often with veneering and inlay. Brass feet, casters and brass-ring drawer/door pulls are also common design motifs.
Fer Forgé
New methods of forging ironwork that developed after World War I in France. These ironworking techniques along with Art Deco style became known as Fer Forgé.
Filagree
Refers to a metalwork technique using open or backed wire work to create elaborate designs. The wire is typically gold or silver.
Flashed Glass
Invented during the Gothic period, this is a technique where the glass has a thin layer of another color glass fused onto the exterior. It can then be scraped or etched to create a decorative design.
Fleur-de-lis
A stylized iris flower with three leaves used on the coat of arms of the French monarchy.
Fluting
A decorative motif formed by parallel concave grooves. In classical architecture fluting appears on columns and pilasters.
Foo or Fu Dog
These guardian lions are believed to have powerful protective powers in Chinese mythology. Traditionally they have stood protectively in front of Chinese Imperial palaces, temples, government offices, and homes of the wealthy from the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), until the end of the empire in 1911. They are created in pairs with the male playing with a ball and a female with a cub.
Frailero
A Spanish Renaissance monk's chair usually made of walnut, with plain legs and a broad front stretcher. Decorated nails heads secured the leather seat to the two side rails and the back panel between the two uprights. These were usually capped with finials. The arms were wide and simple. The frailero was probably the most typical chair of the Spanish Renaissance period.
French Arch
An architectural term describing a flat arch having voussoirs inclined to the same angle on either side of the keystone.
French Ivory
Refers to a synthetic ivory made of plastic that was created by the British Xylonite Company in 1866. Synonymous with Celluloid, Ivoride, Ivorine, Ivorite and Pyralin.
French Polishing
A laborious process where a shellac is dissolved in alcohol and applied to furniture by hand polishing with a dampened cloth in successive layers producing a deep lustrous finish.
French Provincial
France, 17th-18th centuryA style of furniture and architecture characteristic of the provinces in France, based in turn on a more simple interpretation of the Parisian style. Furniture is made from local woods, often painted and is more utilitarian.
Fretwork
An elaborate form of geometric openwork decoration created using a long narrow saw known as a fretsaw, first used around 1860.
Frieze
An architectural term to refer to a plain or decorated horizontal band between the architrave and cornice or the upper part of an interior room wall.
G
Gallery
An ornamental railing in wood or metal around the edge of table surface.
Ganga-Jumna
An Indian metalware technique where copper and brass are used together on one object. The name derives from the River Ganges (Ganga) and its confluence to its largest tributary river, Jumna (Yamuna) in Northern India.
Georgian
Britain, c. 1714-1820The furniture style developed during the reigns of George I (1714-27), George II (1727-60) and George III (1760-1820). Walnut was replaced by mahogany as a favored wood. The legs are elaborately carved and ball-and-claw or pad feet are common. Chippendale, Hepplewhite and Adam worked during this so called Golden Age of Furniture.
Gesso
A mixture of glue and either chalk or plaster of Paris applied as a base or coating to surfaces that are then gilded or painted. Gesso can also be layered, molded into relief designs, or carved.
Ghanta
A ceremonial hand held bell used in Tibetan buddhist and Indian hindu rituals (Puja). It is used in conjunction with a dorje/vajra.
Gilt
Also known as gilding, it is a process where the object is decorated with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf or gold foil. This technique is used on glass, ceramics, furniture or picture frames.
Girandole
A late-17th and 18th-century lighting device consisting of a multibranched wall sconce to hold candles, often with a mirrored backplate. In the 19th century, the term described a circular mirror, often convex, with or without a candle sconce. In American designs, the mirror was often capped with an eagle. In the mid-19th century, a girandole was a Bohemian glass, prism-hung candlestick, often used in pairs on fireplace mantels.
Glue Chip Glass
A popular Victorian technique for decorating windows where glass is etched and covered in warm, wet hide glue. As the glue cools, it attaches to the rough glass, shrinks and removes thin shards off the surface in a random fern-like pattern. The glass is finished by etching to seal the surface.
Guéridon
A small ornamental stand, pedestal or table popular in the late Queen Anne period, adopted from France, where it appeared during the reign of Louis XIII and used to hold candelabras.
Guilloche
A geometric classic band or border pattern of overlapping or interlacing circular forms. The circles are sometimes filled with ornamental designs. It was used often in Renaissance and Victorian Renaissance Revival furniture.
Gustavian
Sweden, c. 1771-92Refers to a design period under the reign of the Gustavus III (1746-1792). It was influenced by the design ideas of Louis XVI period in France. However, the Gustavian Neoclassical style features cleaner lines and less ornateness that its French counterpart. The Gustavian style was more in keeping with Scandinavian tradition included painted furniture crafted from local soft woods and pale upholstery.
H
Hallmark
An official mark or stamp applied to a precious metal, impressed by an assay office to attest to a level of purity.
Hassock
A tightly stuffed upholstered cushion used as a foot stool.
Hepplewhite
England, c. 1775-1800George Hepplewhite (1727?-86) was an influential English designer and cabinet maker who followed the Adam and neoclassical style but with slimmer lines and less angular shapes. Prince of Wales feathers and shield shaped chair backs were common motifs.
Huastec
An indigenous people of Mexico, historically settled in the states of Hidalgo, Veracruz, San Luis Potosi and Tamaulipas. Their history is believed to date back to 10th century B.C.
Hickory
A hardwood tree that grows in the eastern half of the United States. It is a very tough and heavy wood used on furniture requiring strength and thinness such as veneers and woven seats.
Highboy
A tall chest of drawers on a legged base.
Hookah or Huqqa
A traditional Indian water pipe, smoking instrument where the tobacco smoke is first passed throught a water container to cool and purify the smoke.
Homme Debout
A French term that translates literally to standing man and refers to a tall, narrow and deep cupboard with two doors split by a central drawer that was used to house men's garments.
Hooved Foot
A type of foot resembling an animal hoof which are sometimes found on cabriole chair legs of the William and Mary and Queen Anne periods.
Hundi
A hand blown glass bell hall lantern suspended by a smoke cap, chains and metal collar, designed to hold a candle. This form of light was used in the early 19th century in British Colonial India where it was called a hundi and in American Colonial homes where it was called a bell jar lantern. They are found in a variety of colors and may display etched decoration.
I
Inro
A small Japanese stacked, compartmentalized box most commonly used to hold seals or medicinals. It hangs from the waist sash (obi) of a kimono by a cord and is tightened with an ivory bead (ojime) and is secured with a decorative toggle/netsuke.
Intaglio
A printing process which is printed from an incised plate design. The ink is transferred from the recesses to the paper by pressure. The paper is dampened to allow it to be squeezed in the press leaving the printed lines standing in relief and platemarks on the paper.
Intarsia
Originating in 13th century Italy, it is a highly sophisticated form of marquetry, where pictures are executed in wood veneers and inlays creating a 3-dimensional effect. Natural wood grains of different colors are employed to create pattern rather than by dyed or stained wood. Sometimes ivory inlay is also used. Marble intarsia is known as pietra dura.
Ironstone China
A pottery made to imitate porcelain with a hard, opaque, white body. It was patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason in Staffordshire, England.
J
Jackfield
A small village in the Ironbridge Gorge in Shropshire, England. Jackfield pottery wares originated around 1740 to 1780 and are characterized by a thin walled gray to purple-black earthenware clay with a glossy, black lead glaze. Jackfield glazes were imitated by a number of potters in Staffordshire including Thomas Whieldon. The term Jackfield has come to generically refer to any pottery with a black, shiny glaze and were revived during the Victorian era.
Jacobean
England, c. 1603-60An early Renaissance style of furniture and architecture established during the reigns of James I (1603-25), Charles I (1625-49) and the Commonwealth rule (1649-60). Until 1660, Puritan rule influenced simple, practical but uncomfortable furniture design. Plain bobbin turnings and gate-leg tables were popular as well as plain leather seats affixed with heavy brass studs. It is noted for its box-like architectural style. Early American furniture draws inspiration from this period.
Japanning
The process of covering a furniture piece with paint, gesso, varnish, gold powder, and/or gold leaf in order to imitate a Japanese lacquered finish.
Jardinière
A French term for ornamental pot or stand for plants.
Jasper Ware
A delicate type of earthenware introduced by Josiah Wedgwood in England around 1775. Jasper ware often displays neoclassical motifs in vogue at the end of the 18th century inspired in part by the excavations of Herculaneum and Pompeii. Jasper ware is found in a variety of colors including green, blue, black, lilac or white which is the natural base color. Generally, the ground is colored with ornament applied in white in relief to give a cameo effect. There are two classes of jasper ware, solid jasper and jasper dip. Jasper dip is only colored on the surface while solid jasper is colored throughout. Jasper dip results in a more delicate effect and was used after 1780 on items that required translucent effects such as drapery on classical figures.
Jugendstil
Germany, Austria, c. 1896-early 20th centuryTranslated from the German as youth style. A decorative arts and architecture style influenced by French Art Nouveau and Japanese prints. Characterized by hard, precise edges in opposition to the naturalistic style of the time.
K
Kalasha
An important symbolic pot used in Indian Hindu rituals. It may be filled with water, coins, gold, rice or other grains (Purnakumbha) or may support a coconut balanced on the mouth encircled by mango leaves. It can be made of clay, copper, silver, gold or brass and is a squat, bulbous shape with a small neck and wide mouth.
Karl Johan
Sweden, 19th century This style is named for the monarch Carl XIV Johan (1818-1844) and was influenced by the German neoclassical Biedermeier style and often incorporated Neopoleonic motifs and native blond woods.
Kingwood
A Brazilian wood sometimes called violet wood from the violet streaking and used in fine cabinetry making. It was favored by the French monarchy in the 18th century.
Klismos
A classical Greek chair which features saber legs, of which the front legs curve forwards and the back legs curve back. The chair rail has a concave shape.
Kneehole
A flat desk surface supported on two drawer columns flanking a space for the sitter's legs.
Kommode
The German word for commode or low chest of drawers.
L
Lacquer
A resin derived from the sap of the lacquer tree, applied on furniture in multiple layers to great a high gloss finish. Popular during the 17th century in Europe and fashioned after Chinese lacquered furniture, it was sometimes inlaid with mother-of-pearl and metals.
Lambrequin
A valance board for draperies. Usually a horizontal, stiff covering for curtain or drapery headings, as well as the rods, hooks, and other hardware. It is also called a pelmet or palmette. Originally the lambrequin was a fabric unit, but it was often reproduced in carved wood panels with applied moldings, or metal work decorations.
Lavabo
A washbasin comprising a basin and fountain to supply water.
Limoges
Home to a number of porcelain manufactories in France since the mid 19th century. Kaolin, a key ingredient for porcelain was discovered in the area in the 18th century leading to the development of the industry. It is noted for fine quality pure white porcelain and is still produced today.
Linen Fold
A decorative element carved or molded to imitate folded cloth. Likely Flemish in origin, it was used in the 15th and 16th centuries in furniture and paneling.
Lion Monopodia
The head, single leg and paw of a lion, originally used by Roman makers to support stone, metal tables or seats. The motif was revived in the late 18th and early 19th centuries and used on tables, armchairs, sideboards and bookcases.
Lolling Chair
A term coined in the Federal Period for an upholstered high-backed, open armchair. In the later 19th century, the lolling chair was called a Martha Washington chair. The lolling chair was rarely produced outside of the New England states.
Lota
A common spherical vessel, usually made of copper or brass and is used in Northern India to store a small amount of milk or water or is used in sacred rituals or for cleansing purposes. In South India it is called a chambu.
Louis XIII
France, 1610-43A style of furniture and architecture influenced by Louis XIII's mother Marie de Médici's native Italy. Furniture is typically massive and solidly built, ornamented with cherubs, scrollwork and grotesque masks.
Louis XIV
France, 1643-1715Also known as Baroque, furniture of this period was veneered, inlaid, boldly carved, gilded and typically elaborately ornamented by shells, satyrs, garlands, dolphins and mythological heroes. Principal woods included ebony, walnut and oak.
Louis XV
France, 1723-74Also known as Rococo, this French style of art, architecture and decorative arts was characterized by a profusion of assymetrical ornamentation, foilage and scrolls. Inlaid decoration and bronze mounts were prevalent.
Louis XVI
France, 1774-93Also known as Neoclassicism, this French style of art, architecture and decorative arts was created as a reaction to the excesses of the Rococo period and inspired by the excavations at Pompeii and Herculaneum. It features architectural inspired ornamentation, rectilinear lines and classical symmetry. Mahogany was the wood of choice and was often decorated by parquetry inlay.
Louis Philippe
France, 1830-48Louis Philippe (1773-1850) fashioned himself as a King of the people which led to a less lavish style of furniture favored by his predecessors in the French court. Furniture focused on the natural beauty of the wood and simple, clean lines and curves.
Lowboy
A low chest of drawers raised on legs.
Lustreware
A metallic or iridescent pottery finish made by adding a metal oxide to the glaze. It was created in Staffordshire by Hancock but perfected by Josiah Spode and was initially inspired by Persian wares. Available glazes include silver, copper, pink and gold metallic and the shapes imitated silver forms and thus referred to as poor man's silver. Most of these wares bear no maker's marks. Copper lustre was the least expensive and most readily available glaze and was made by a number of English potteries from 1800-60. Silver lustre is considered the most desirable glaze.
M
Majolica
Italian or Spanish low fired pottery with a tin enamel glaze and typically brightly colored. The glaze is opaque and conceals the clay base.
Malachite
A bright green hard mineral often marked by concentric banding.
Mani
An uniquely Buddhist spiritual device, the mani, chos-kor or khorten prayer wheel holds a sacred mantra written thousands of times on a scroll held on the wheel. When the wheel is spun clockwise, the mantra is said to spread over everything as a type of blessing.
Mantel
An ornamental facing surrounding a fireplace. Also refers to the protruding shelf surmounting a fireplace surround.
Marlborough Leg
A straight leg, often with a simple block foot attached.
Marchepieds
A French term for stools.
Marquetry
A pattern made by setting contrasting materials flush into a veneered surface. Inlays includes wood, tortoiseshell, horn, metal and mother-of-pearl. Popular in the Renaissance period and also in 18th century France and England. Marquetry includes Boulle work, inlay or intarsia.
Marquise Chair
Developed at the end of the 17th century, it is a French furniture form of a wide chair designed to accommodate two persons.
Married
A term in the antiques trade to describe when furniture is composed of parts that were not originally made together.
Mid Century Modern
International, c. 1918-60Refers to a style of furniture, product design and architecture that followed World War II. The style features clean lines and organic forms using materials such as plastic, wood and metal. The style flourished in Europe and Scandinavian designers were particularly influential during this period.
Millefiori
From the Italian meaning thousand flowers. In glassware it refers to a technique where multi-colored canes are combined and cut so that the cut cane ends resemble flowerheads. These canes are used fused with clear glass to make decorative objects such as paperweights.
Mission Style
United States, 1900-16A generic term used to refer to American design styles of American Craftsman and Prairie School. Mission style was inspired by the Arts and Crafts movement in England at the turn of the century. Like Arts and Crafts, it featured a simplicity of designs and materials. The work of Gustav Stickley embodies this style.
Molding
A shaped strip (concave, convex, half round, quarter round, ogee, cyma, etc.) used on projecting or receding features of buildings, walls, or furniture. It produces interesting patterns of light and shade.
Monteith
A vessel with a notched rim used to cool wine glasses.
Mother-of-Pearl
Refers to the iridescent lining of certain shells such as oyster or mussels used as a decorative inlay in furniture and smaller decorative items.
Mosharabi (mashrabiah, mosharabia, or mousharabieh)
A Moorish architectural term for carved wooden lattice screens used to allow light, air circulation and privacy.
Muntin
The central vertical part of a door which divides the panels above and below the middle or lock rail. A vertical strip between two panels. The horizontal strip is called the lock rail. Also used to identify the wood strips that hold the panes of glass in a glazed door or window.
N
Nanmu
In China, a silvery-brown softwood prized for fine cabinet construction, houses and boats. Once dry, the wood does not warp or split, and can be sanded to create a smooth, hard surface, making it ideal for furniture making.
Napoleon III
France, 1848-70Also known as Second Empire, this style of furniture borrows elements from preceding styles. Dark woods were favored and also new materials such as papier-maché, cast iron, mother-of-pearl, faux bamboo and gilt bronze.
National Park Style
United States, 1915-40Also known as the Cascadian or Oregon Rustic Style; this architectural and decorative arts style uses heavy stone and timber construction in conjunction with other craftsmen arts such as ironwork, weaving or wood working. Furniture is hand crafted, rustic and favors log or bent-twig forms.
Netsuke
A small toggle as a small sculpture in wood or ivory. These were used in Japan to fasten a cloth bag to a kimono sash (obi).
Niello
An ancient decorative metalwork technique where a black metal oxide is inlaid and fused to a metal base, possibly originating in ancient Egypt.
O
Oak
The more common name of several hundred trees and shrubs of the genus Querus. It's durability lends itself well to furniture making. The wood color varies from light tan to deep leathery brown with black grain. Variations are due to differences in the soil and climate.
Ogee
A decorative molding characterized by a double S-shaped elongated curve.
Oregon Rustic Style
United States, 1915-40See National Park Style.
Ormolu
From the French meaning ground gold. It refers to furniture mounts of gilded brass or bronze and finished by hand chasing. Commonly seen on 19th century Empire furniture. Also called bronze doré.
P
Parchin Kari
An Indian Mughal term to describe a fine inlay of colored marble, semi-precious and precious stones to create an image or design. Parchin Kari was used extensively to great effect in the Taj Mahal in Agra and became a center for parchin kari artisans. This technique was developed in Italy in the 16th century and named pietra dura and reached India by the early 17th century where it was reinterpreted with traditional native designs.
Partner's Desk
A desk deep enough to accommodate two people facing each other with drawers on either side.
Pastille Burner
A metal, pottery or porcelain incense burner often in the shape of a cottage, house or church and used to burn small incense cones (pastilles). The pastille smoke would rise from the building's chimney for a charming effect. They were designed to combat unpleasant odours of the Victorian home. Pastille burners were made by many English porcelain manufacturers in a range of qualities and were most in demand from around 1820 to 1850.
Pediment
A wide triangular or curved element above a window, doorway or piece of furniture.
Patina
A greenish coating on the surface of bronze or copper that develops with age. Also, the mellowing of age on any object or material due to exposure, handling or repeated waxings and polishings.
Pembroke Table
A small occasional table with drop-leaf sides and a drawer end. Likely named for England's 9th Earl of Pembroke (1693-1751).
Pewter
An alloy of tin and lead that produces a metal with a dull gray appearance. Used for tablewares and other small objects copying silver forms. It was later replaced by chinaware.
Pewter Marks
A number of different marks may appear on a piece of pewter. Touchmarks refer to the maker's trademark which may contain the maker's name or initials. Pewter may also have a smaller series of hallmarks, which are sometimes called pseudo-hallmarks because they are reminiscent of silver hallmarks. Further, pewter may also have quality marks. In England a crowned rose was used from the mid 16th century to indicate quality. A verification mark of a crown over a monarch's initials over a number may be present. This mark signifies that the measure complied with the ale capacity standard during the reign and the number indicates the town or county where the measure was checked. American pewterers followed this convention and created a pseudo-quality mark of a crowned X however there were no regulations enforcing the use of marks.
Pier Table
A side table initially designed to stand in the narrow wall space between two windows or doors.
Pier Mirror
A tall, slender mirror often placed over pier tables between two windows to fill the narrow space and reflect light from the windows.
Pietra Dura
An Italian term meaning hard stones referring to fine inlay of a variety of hardstones such as jasper, agate and marble as well as semi-precious and precious stones. It was used to decorate furniture and other small decorative objects.
Pilaster
An architectural term for a rectangular column that partially projects from the attached wall and holds only a decorative function.
Pipkin
An English term for a metal coal container used fireside.
Piqué
This is a metwalwork technique used to embellish tortoiseshell with a fine inlay of gold or silver. The tortoiseshell is heated to soften it allowing fine wires of silver or gold to be pressed into it. Once the tortoiseshell cools it hardens and secures the metalwork.
Polychrome
Made or decorated in many or various colors.
Pooja or Puja Mandir
A portable shrine canopy used to display a Hindu figure in a home temple, for daily rituals.
Porcelain
A hard, translucent, white ceramic material. It greated a sensation when it was first imported from the Far East into 17th century Europe due in part to the mystery surrounding its creation. It started an intense competition among European factories searching for the formula.
Pottery
Refers to all ceramic wares with the exclusion of porcelain.
Prairie School
United States, late 19th-early 20th centuryAn architectural style originating in the Midwest that embraced the ideals of the Arts and Crafts movement. The Prairie School term was coined by a historian who observed that the architecture design was marked by horizontal lines that mimicked the flat prairie landscape. Frank Lloyd Wright was a well known exponent of this style.
Predella
A Spanish footstool or kneeling stool. Also, the foot of an altarpiece used for kneeling.
Q R
Régence
France, 1715-23The transitional period into the Rococo style was known as Régence and featured restrained design in reaction to the excesses of the Baroque period.
Regency
England, 1811-20Defines the style period when King George III was deemed unfit to rule and his son was installed as Prince Regent. It was considered a transitional period between the Georgian and Victorian eras. Characterized by elegant and slender lines, saber legs, reeding and lion paw feet were common forms of ornamentation. French polishing became popular and mahogany was the wood of choice with rosewood and calamander veneers.
Restauration
France, 1815-30Defines the style periods under Louis XVIII (1815-24) and Charles X (1824-30). Marked by the rise of the middle class, there was a resurgance of comfort in furniture with simple lines, rounded forms and fine ornamentation. Light woods such as elm, ash and bird's eye maple were contrasted as inlay against dark woods. Decorative motifs include swans, cornucopia, lyres and gadrooning.
Rococo
France, 18th centuryA style of art and interior design. The word derives from the combination of the French word rocaille which refers to arranging stones in a garden to resemble natural forms such as shells and the Italian word barocco referring to the Baroque style. Furniture and decorations were elegant, playful and ornate and the style was harmonious with the excesses of the reign of Louis XV.
Queen Anne
England, 1702-14This style of furniture arose in England during the reign of Queen Anne (1665-1714) in a break from French style influences. Walnut veneering was popular, and gentle, subtle curves added grace. This period marked the development serpentine arms, soft, rounded frames and cabriole legs.
Récamier
A long chair designed to recline on, which is typically upholstered. It is also known in French as a chaise longue.
Refectory Table
Created in the Medieval Period, it refers to a long narrow table, usually with a trestle base originally used for dining in monasteries. It later evolved into a banquet table in castle residences.
Repoussé
A decorative metalwork technique where the relief design is hammered from the reverse side and often chased from the front. It is synonymous with embossing.
Revival
In antiques, a revival refers to a return to fashion of a previous style of furniture design. It is not mean to be a reproduction or a fake that is an attempt to deceive, but rather a reinterpretation of the design elements of a previous era after a period of quiescence.
Rosette
A French term meaning little roses. A floral decorative device, usually a circle with petals developing out from a central point. The outer contour may be round, elliptic, or square. The rosette has been a popular motif since the Gothic period, and was favored by Adam and Hepplewhite.
Rummer
A short stemmed drinking glass used from c. 1760-1850 and features a thin ovoid bowl and small foot.
Rush seat
Popular in 17th and 18th centuries, the chair seat is formed by rush stalks woven together.
S
Satinwood
A pale yellowish West Indian wood with a satin finish that first gained popularity in Britain in the late 18th century replacing mahogany for small scale furniture. Due to its rarity and cost it is typically reserved for veneer and inlays.
Savonarola chair
An early Italian Renaissance X-shaped chair. The seat was often made of interlaced strips of wood, and the back was usually carved or decorated with inlay work. The chair was named for the martyred Italian monk Girolamo Savonarola (1452-98).
Sconce
A decorative wall bracket to hold a candle or light with a backplate.
Secretary Desk
A tall cabinet piece with a bookcase above a drop-front desk surface, all over a base of drawers. It is also known as a secretaire.
Semainier
A French term derived from the word semaine meaning week and used to describe a tall chest with seven drawers, meant to hold a week's worth of clothing.
Settle
A long wood bench typically with high back and arms that can accommodate three to four people.
Shagreen
In the 17th and 18th century it referred to a type of leather made from the hide of a shark or stingray. It is typically dyed green and has a surface of rounded protrusions. It was used to cover small decorative objects such as books or caskets.
Sheffield Plate
Originating in England, these objects are made by bonding silver sheets to a copper base. This process was later replaced by electroplating.
Sheraton
England, c. 1785-1800A neoclassical style of furniture named for designer Thomas Sheraton (1751-1806). It employed satinwood, mahogany, tulipwood and rosewood inlays and motifs such as swags, husks, festoons and ram's heads. This style influenced the Federal period in the United States.
Sideboard
Also known as a buffet. A furniture cabinet piece with doors and drawers used in the diningroom for storage and display. Typically a long cabinet at waist height but may have a superstructure for display.
Singhasan
A low platform sitting chair designed for a deity sculptures and used in temples in India.
Spill Vase
Used on mantels to hold spills, which were long rolled pieces of paper or wood sticks used to transfer fire from the fireplace to candles, before the widespread use of matches.
Splat
Refers to the central support on a chair back between the chair rail and seat.
Staffordshire Figure
These figures were made by a number of potters and were sold at traveling fairs and street markets. Designed for cottage fireplace mantles or shelves, they often lack decoration on the backside. Subjects included predominant figures or newsworthy events in Victorian England, domestic and exotic animals, military leaders, religious figures, buildings or the Royal family. They reached their height of popularity around 1840 to 1880. Early Staffordshire figures prior to Queen Victoria's reign are distinguished by a round or square plinth and primitive pearlware decoration. Early figures are often supported on a bocage while later pieces known as flat-backs have an undecorated, flat backside.
Strapwork
A common decorative motif in Northern Europe in the 16th and 17th centuries, it consists of narrow bands designed to resemble leather straps.
Stereocard or Stereoview
Stereoscopy was invented by Sir Charles Wheatstone (English, 1802-75) in 1838. Each two-dimensional side of the card presents a slightly different view to the eye creating the illusion of 3-dimension. It is best viewed through a stereoscope. These cards were most popular from around 1870 to 1920.
Sterling Silver
A metal that contains 92.5 percent pure silver.
Stoneware
A heavy, nonporous, opaque pottery that is fired at a high temperature. It originated in China and was exported to Europe in the 17th century where it was imitated by many factories in Germany, England and the Netherlands.
Stove Plate
These sand cast iron stove plates are from early five-plate or jamb stoves consisting of a cube-shape stove with five sides, or plates, of cast iron with the sixth side opening into the wall. Figures and biblical themes were popular motifs. They were set into the wall and heated from a fireplace in the adjoining room and provided efficient heat to the home. The stoves were used predominently in the 17th and 18th century in Europe and were brought to America by German immigrants in the early 18th century.
Stretcher
A stabilizing rail that runs horizontally between furniture legs.
Swan Neck Pediment
A broken pediment comprised of a sloping double S-shape flanking the pediment; reminiscent of the necks of a pair of swans facing each other.
T
Tantalus
A cellarette with enclosed decanters, visible but not accessible without a key. The name derives from the Greek myth of Tantalos.
Tarkashi
The Indian art of inlaid wire drawing, originally developed by members of the Ojha caste whose ancestors had migrated from Rajhastan to Mainpuri in the 14th century. The popularity of the art was revived by European demand in the later half of the 19th century.
Tea Caddy
A decorative box which contains one or more compartments to store black and/or green tea. Tea was a luxury commodity so their containers are often finely crafted and secured with a key lock.
Teapoy
An Indian term used to describe a three-legged table.
Tester
Another name for a canopy, or framework above a four-poster bed that was usually draped with fabric.
Third Republic
France, 1870-1940Period describing the governing body of a republican parliamentary democracy, following the rule of Napoleon III. Furniture styles are based on the interpretation of 18th century styles or modifying existing furniture to suit the current fashion.
Tintype
Evolved from the ambrotype process except that it was produced on iron rather than glass. The iron negatives were coated with black paint or lacquer. It was invented by Professor Hamilton L. Smith (American, 1819-1903) in Ohio in 1856. It was much cheaper process than an ambrotype and more durable but produced a lesser quality image. While they do not contain tin they became commonly known as tintypes because of the thin metal plates were associated with cheapness. They were extremely popular during the Civil War Period and thousands were produced because they could be safely sent by post. By the 1950s it was replaced by another instant photographic method, the Polaroid.
Touchmark
See: Pewter Marks.
Tracery
An architectural term to describe the stonework elements that support the glass in a Gothic window. When used on wall panels it is referred to as blind tracery.
Tub Chair
A low back chair with a concave back and armrests.
Twist Stem Glasses
Drinking glasses with twist stems were made during the second quarter of the eighteenth century in Europe but the technique was perfected in England. The Excise Act of 1746 imposed a tax on glass making materials so in response glassmakers began to design lighter styles of glassware. Glassmakers experimented with air bubbles in baluster glasses that could be manipulated in elaborate and intricate forms in a wide variety of air twists. They were used in straight-stemmed glasses, as well as in glasses with knops. Later the air twist was overtaken in popularity by glasses with an opaque twist stem that utilized rods of opaque white enamel. Around 1760, another variation of the twist-stemmed glass emerged with the addition of colored rods, most commonly in red, green, and blue. These were frequently intertwined with opaque white twists. The Excise Tax of 1777 doubled the tax rate on glass made in England but exempted glass made in Ireland after 1780 and thus played a significant role in the emergence of the Irish cut-glass making industry.
U
Union Case
Early cases were constructed of wood covered in leather and hinged to open like a book. In 1854, Samuel Peck (American, 1813-79), a daguerreotypist, invented a thermo-plastic case which gained popularity over leather cases because it could be deeply moulded, was more durable and allowed for more complex scenes to be displayed on the cases. He named them Union cases and they later all came to be generically known as Union cases regardless of the company of manufacturer. The case industry declined in the 1860s as it was replaced by cheaper tintypes and carte de visites made popular during the economic decline of the Civil War.
Urli
A wide, low bronze vessel with a curved or flat rim used in traditional Indian cooking. Urlis are made of bell metal, a type of bronze used for making bells using the cire perdue method. These vessels are often made by the skilled metalworkers of Kerala in southwestern India.
V
Vaisselier
A furniture form popular in 18th/19th century France, with open, shallow display shelves with railings over a buffet base.
Val D'Osne
Haute-Marne, France, 1836-1987 Founded by Jean-Pierre Victor André, it became a preeminent foundry during the 19th century. Four years following his death the foundry was sold to one of his students, Gustave Barbezat in around 1849. The foundry experienced great demand for objects during the remodeling of Paris by Baron Haussmann. In 1892 Val d'Osne merged with another well known foundry, J.J. Ducell and collaboratively created more than 40,000 molds, the largest such collection in the world. Pantographs allowed foundries to affordably cast objects in a number of sizes. In 1931 Val d'Osne was acquired by Durenne House and the production of decorative objects was replaced by mechanical devices. The foundry closed in 1987 and the inventory was sold off for scrap metal in 1993. Sadly, few of the original molds were saved.
Vargueno
Originating in 16th century Spain, this square or rectangular cabinet is fitted with drawers and a drop front writing surface supported on lopers. It sits on a open stand.
Varpu
A large low bronze cauldron similar in form to an urli used as a cooking vessel for feasts in India. These vessels are often made by the skilled metalworkers of Kerala in southwestern India using the traditional cire perdue method.
Veneer
A furniture making process in which a thin layer of a more beautiful or valuable wood is affixed to a more inferior wood base.
Vesta Case
Vesta was a Roman mythological goddess of the hearth. A vesta case is an English term for match safe.
Victorian
England, 1837-1901During the lengthy reign of Queen Victoria (1819-1901), no singular style emerged. Instead, a great variety of styles emerged based on the revival and reinterpretation of a variety of earlier furniture styles including Gothic, Renaissance, Neoclassical and Rococo.
Voussoir
An architectural term, describing one of the wedge-shaped blocks forming the curved parts of an arch or vault. The central voussoir is known as the keystone.
Vyala
Also called a sardula, this Indian art and architectural motif consists of a mythological animal with a leonine body and head of a tiger, elephant, bird or other animal. Often found in temples, it symbolizes the triumph of mind over matter.
W
Westerwald Pottery
An unique type of salt glazed grey pottery from the Höhr-Grenzhausen and Ransbach-Baumbach area of Westerwald in central Germany. It has been produced in this region since the 1500's and it is often decorated with cobalt blue painted floral and foliate flourishes.
What-Not
An English piece of furniture inspired by the French étagère and very popular during the 19th century. It typically consists of slender uprights supporting open shelves and used to diplay decorative objects.
Wine Tasting Table
A small round or oval table used in wine cellars for tastings. A utilitarian furniture form, it features a tilt-top since space is often limited in wine cellars.
William and Mary
England, 1689-94Their short reign produced a transitional style of furniture between the rectangular Renaissance furniture and curvilinear Rococo and Baroque forms. It was lighter and more comfortable than previous forms. Walnut was used primarily and also oak in some cases. Many Dutch and French craftsmen arrived in Britain during this period bringing techniques and styles of their homeland. Common motifs include the Flemish scroll, Spanish foot, trumpet turned legs and ogee aprons. Marquetry was favored over carved decoration.
William IV
Britain, 1830-37This style corresponded to the rule of William IV (1765-1837) following the death of George IV (1762-1830). This was a transitional period between the Regency and Victorian eras. The Regency style was still popular but the romanticism that dominated the Victorian era had begun to take hold.
Wu Cai
Meaning five color ware in Chinese. In fact, this type of porcelain is primarily three colors of red, green and yellow with outlines of a dark underglaze blue, with along with the white of the porcelain body, comprise the five colors. Wu Cai porcelain decorated with these colors have been used from the Ming period (1368-1642). The number five also has great symbolic significance in Chinese art.
X Y
Yew Wood
A European evergreen prized for it's strong fine grained light brown or red coloration. Used in cabinetry and bow making.
Z
Zebrawood
An attractive figured wood from Africa with dark stripes on a pale background reminiscent of zebra striping that was used in furniture making. It is a rare wood that is typically limited to veneers and inlay.
Zitan
A very tightly grained, dense hardwood of the rosewood family, ranging from purplish-black to blackish-red in color. The wood originates from the tropical forests of Southern China, Indo-China and Hainan Island. This wood was exceptionally popular with furniture makers during the Qing Dynasty.

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