Money Making For Women on the Internet

Titles Titles & descriptions

Get notified of new articles:


Antiques Glossary - A

 Print this page 

Author: Jim Coyle

  • Aalto, Alvar
    1898-1976) Finish architect and furniture designer whose work during the 1920s and 30s had an enormous impact on 20thC design. Although mass-produced, Aalto's furniture is highly original, distinguished by clean, simple lines and curves, and the innovative use of materials such as moulded plywood and tubular steel.

    See COLUMN.

    Abbotsford style
    Term introduce in the late 19thC for imitation Jacobean, Stuart, Tudor and Gothic furniture made in the 1820s and 30s. It was named after Abbotsford, the Scottish home of the 18th-19thC poet and novelist Sir Walter Scott, which was furnished in this style.

    Term for the faint banding of colour shades usually found in vegetable-dyed Oriental carpets made by nomadic tribes. This is due to slight variations in shade of different batches of wool that were dyed at different times. Abrash is most obvious over a large, plain field of uniform colour. Unfortunately, unscrupulous modern weavers often fake an abrash to try to make a rug look older.

    Very durable, whitish-yellow wood with brown veining, also known as robinia. Acacia was used as a veneer in the late 17th and early 18th centuries, as a decorative crossbanding on 18th and early 19thC country furniture, and occasionally for chairs and small cabinet work such as boxes in the ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT of the late 19thC.


    accordion pleat
    A series of narrow, machine-made, overlapping pleats, often used on lightweight fabrics for soft furnishings.

    achromatic lens
    An 18thC development combining FLINT GLASS and crown glass to remove distorting colour fringes from the image. It was patented by Englishman John Dollond in 1758 and used in telescopes and microscopes.

    acid etching

    acid gilding

    acid polishing
    A chemical process which restores a polished surface to glass after it has been cut. The glass is dipped in acid solution which removes a fine surface layer.

    acorn flagon
    Pewter vessel about 12in (30cm) high, with its base in the shape of an acorn cup, and a domed, acorn-like lid capped by a FINIAL. It was used for serving wine or ale in Yorkshire in the first half of the 18thC, and is also known as York Flagon.

    Act of Parliament Clock

    Adam, Robert
    (1728 - 92) NEOCLASSICAL architect and interior designer.

    adjustment marks
    File marks found on many pre-19thC coins which have been 'adjusted' (filed down) to the correct weight. It was a worldwide practice which occurred from ancient times until the early 19thC, when new manufacturing techniques made it possible to cut blanks from consistently rolled metal sheets. Excess metal was filed off overweight blanks before the coins were struck to ensure that they were of consistent weight. Sometimes blanks were made deliberately overweight to avoid the more expensive remelting process necessary for underweight coins.

    Long-handled axe with the blade at right angles to the shaft, used in furniture-making, for heavy trimming and shaping. The slightly hollowed-out seats of WINDSOR CHAIRS, for example, were shaped with an adze with a curved cutting edge.

    AE or ?
    Common abbreviation for bronze and copper from the latin aes, found in coin catalogues and also seen as ae.

    Late 19thC technique of applying colours to ceramics through a stencil with an airbrush or atomiser. It resulted in a gradual transition of colours ad soft-edged, slightly grained images, and was often used to 'dress up' cheap pottery and porcelain.

    Aesthetic movement
    Decorative arts movement with a Japanese influence, which flourished in Britain from c.1870 - a precursor to ART NOVEAU. The movement was recognised in the USA but not in France or elsewhere in Europe. It overlapped with the ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT although it had begun to decline by the late 1880s.

    A set of porcelain monkey musicians - the term is German for 'monkey band'. The sets, each one comprising some 20 figures, were introduced by MEISSEN in Germany during the mid-18thC, and were reproduced there and at many other European factories in the 19thC. See also SINGERIE.

    Fine-grained quartz used as a semiprecious stone in CAMEO and INTAGLIO work and in jewellery such as signet rings and brooches, particularly during the 19thC. When polished, agate reveals variegated tones of soft browns and oranges, blues, greys or greens, foten with irregular milky bands.

    agate ware
    Staffordshire pottery resembling the veinings and colouring of natural agate. It was produced in the 18thC by firms such as WEDGWOOD and WHIELDON. There were two types: solid agate, made from kneading together two or three different coloured clays to give a marbled effect all the way through the body; and surface agate, in which a plain earthenware body was applied with a 'joggled' liquid clap SLIP of mixed agate-like colours to give a surface-only finish.

    Slim, decorated case fitted with a pencil and note pad, usually measuring about 31/2 x 21/4 x 1/4in (90 x 55 x 5mm). The ivory leaves of the 18thC aides-memoire, or tablettes, continued until the early 20thC, although some have been replaced with paper. The cases were decorated ub materials such as gold, silver, ivory, enamel and tortoiseshell. See also CARNET DE BAL.

    Hair or hat ornament, usually of gold or silver, made in the shape of a feather or as a holder for a feather. Aigrettes were fashionable in the 17th and 18th centuries and from the lat 19th to early 20thC.

    air twist
    See TWIST

    Circular or tear-shaped bubbles of air incorporated into glassware for decorative effect. The molten glass is pricked with a metal point, and glass drawn over the hole. A tear is formed when the glass is drawn into shape.

    Akerman, John
    (fl. 1719-55) London glass merchant who introduced CUT GLASS to Britain c.1890.

    Cylindrical, slightly waisted ceramic drug pot, with a groove around the neck for securing a parchment cover. Albarelli originated in 12thC Persia, but ornamental MAIOLICA versions were made in Spain and Italy in the 15th and 16th centuries, with a revival in the 19thC, and in Dutch and English DELFTWARE from the second half of the 16thC.

    Single or double metal chain with a bar for securing ina buttonhole at one end, and a swivel attachment to hold a pocket watch at the other. A Virmingham jeweller presented Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert, with one of these in 1845, and so the name was coined.

    album quilt
    Personalised patchwork quilt, its design being of particular significance to the recipient. A typical design might have names and dates stitchted into some of the patches. The quilts were fashionable in the USA in the mid-19th C.


    Durable wood native to northern Europe which polishes to a flesh-colour, knotty finish. It is an easy wood to turn, and was used in the 18th and 19th centuries for country furniture, occasionally for the turned members of Windsor chairs.

    See HUMPEN

    ale grass
    Stemmed glass dating from the 18thC used for drinking ale, which was more potent than today's beer. The glasses are similar to wine glasses but with a slimmer, more elongated bowl. From 1740, some examples were engraved with hops and ears of barley, or enamelled. 19C ale glasses are similar in shape to champagne flutes. Short-stemmed versions are known as dwarf or short ales.

    ale warmer
    Copper or brass sup with a long wooden or iron handle used for warming ale over an open fire. Early 18thC examples were shaped like a large boot or shoe; cone-shapped cups ('donkey's ears') were introduced in the late 18thC. Both styles were widely produced in the 19thC, and modern reproductions abound.

    Alen?on lace
    Venetian lace-makers established the Alen?on lace factory in north-west France in 1675. Production declined in the 18thC but flourished again under Napoleon and the Second Empire. Point d'Alen?on refers to needlepoint LACE with destinctive modes (fillings) between the basic mesh, made both Alen?on and elsewhere.

    Wide tapestry with a central picture surrounded by a border simulating gilded wood, in turn bordered by rich ornament such as tromp l'oeil figures and flowers. Alentours tapestry was first introduced in 1714 at the GOBELINS tapestry factory in France

    A green or greenish-brown gemstone which glints varying shades of red under artificail light. The gem was discovered in the Ural mountains, Russia, in 1830, on the birthday of Tsar Alexander II. A synthetic form of CORUNDUM exhibits similar colour changes ad is sold in the Middle East as alexandrite, but is of little value.

    alexandrite glass
    Transparent ART GLASS with colour gradations of citron-yellow through to rose and blue produced by successive reheating of individual parts of the glass. The process was patented by Thomas WEB & Sons, a stourbridge glasshouse, in 1886. in a later version, designs were cut through an outer shell of rose and blue glass to reveal a clear yellow base beneath.

    all over
    A carpet design based on a pattern or motif that is repeated all over the main area or field of the piece, stopping at the borders.

    Alloa Glassworks
    Scottish glass factory established in 1750. It specialised mainly in dark green bottles which were roughly stipple engraved and commemorative events, names and dates. The most common dates found are from 1830 to about 1850.

    A metal such as bronze, pewter or brass formed by melting together two or more elements such as copper, zinc and tin. Metals are normally used in the form of alloys to make them more durable and easier to work; STERLING STANDARD silver, for example, contains a proportion of copper or some other base metal.

    Very light, silver-coloured metal discovered in 1827. From the 1850s it was occsionally used for figurinesand plaques, and sometimes combined with gold for bracelets. Aluminium was back in fashion from the early 1920s onwards for ART DECO cocktail equipment, cigarette collectables such as ashtrays, and useful household articles such as jelly moulds and teapots.

    Any of various ALLOYS in which mercury is combined with another metal, for example, tin, silver or gold.

    amatory jewellery
    Brooches, rings and other with amorous motifs or inscriptions desgned to be given as love tokens. Examples of amatory jewellery include posy rings, which are plain rings with messages inscribed on the inside and were very fashionable in the 16th and 17th centuries, 16thC betrothal rings with a heart-shaped mount set with a miniature portrait, and jewellery made of, or set with, locks of hair. There was a surge of demand for love brooches in late Victorian times.

    Soft, fossilised resin from a prehistoric variety of pine tree, ranging in colour from pale yellow and honey to a redish-brown, brown, red, and almost black. Sea Amber mainly occurs along the southern shores of the Baltic sea, especially near Lithuania, although it is also found on the coasts of eastern England and the Netherlands; pit amber is mined in Burma, Sicily, Romania, Poland and Mexico. Amber was popular in Celtic Britain, and again in the Victorian era. The best-quality amber is clear, and rare specimens contain embedded insects (although these can be introduced artificially) Amber has been imitated in plastic and glass.

    Type of ART GLASS shading from golden-amber at the bottom to deep red at the top, devolped by Joseph Locke at the New England Glass Co, in 1883. Amberina was widely manufactured in the USA and was also made in a PRESSED-GLASS form in north-east England.

    Durable mottled reddish-brown wood with a tight grain from the East Indies. It is a variety of PADOUK, and was used by the cabinet-makers, mainly for its highly decorative effect, in VENEERS, INLAID DECORATION and BRANDING in the 18th and 19th centuries.

    General term for a light, portable 'occasional' table used during the second half of the 18thC in France. It might apply to a work table ot bedside table, for example, that had no fixed position but was moved around as required.

    amen glass
    Rare British wine glass with a DRAWN STEM produced c.1745, the bowl engraved with a jacobite hymn ending with the word 'amen'.

    American Cononial style
    All-embracing term for North American furniture and architectural style dating from the early 17thC pioneer settlements to the establishment of federal government in 1789.

    American Federal style
    Furniture of the early years of American independence (1789-1830) generally adorned with patriotic or military symbols such as the eagle.

    Semiprecious, pale mauve to deep purple form of QUARTZ. Amethysts turn golden-yellow with HEAT TREATMENT to form CITRINE.

    Italian term often used for the winged cupids which were popular ornamental subjects during the RENAISSANCE and after. They were a particular feature of the CRESTING and front STRECHERS of chairs, cabinet stands and tables, and on ceramics 1660-80

    Two-handled jar with a rounded body and narrow neck. Amphorae were used in ancient Greece, Rome and China for storing wine and oil. They re-emerged in an ornamental guise in 18thC Europe, particularly in NEOCLASSICAL silverwear and as a decorative motif-on ANTWERP lace, for example.

    A two handled container used for wine or water in ancient Rome; and since as decorative vessel; a small version of an amphora.

    an hua
    Chinese for 'secret decoration'. The description reders to a delicate design incised or scored on a porcelain body before glazing and only visible when the finished piece is held against the light. It occurs rarely in the MING DYNASTY porcelain of the yongzheng emperor's reign (1723-35).

    Major area of Turkey that is part of the Asian continent, as opposed to Thrace, which is on the European mainland, often referred to in the context of carpets.

    The precursors to fire grates, consisting of a pair of metal fire irons placed at either side of an open hearth to support burning logs. In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, coal-burning stoves largely replaced andirons excapt in country areas. With the grates of the 19thC, a shortenedform of andirons made a comeback as purely decorative features or to suport long-handled FIRE IRONS. Andrions are also known as firedogs, as 16thC example (now rare) were often cast in the shape of seated hounds. Versions with many feet are called firecats, because if dropped they always land, catlike, on their feet.

    Instrument for messuring wind force.

    aneroid barometer
    A barometer introduced to the domestic market, c.1850, which used disk-like, flexible metal bellows containing a partical vacuum, instead of a collumn of mercury, to measure changes in air pressure. The term aneroid is derived from a Greek word meaning 'liquid-free'. As the air pressure changes, the movement of the bellows is enlarged by being linked to a pointer set againsta dial.

    HAMMERED gold coin current 15th-17thC which depicts St Michael spearing a dragon. Angels were first issued in Britain in the 1460s to replace the NOBEL, which a face value of a third of a pound (6s 8d or 33?p). Later Angels revalued at up to IIS (55p) and were sometimes pierced for use as TOUCHPIECES.

    Angell, Joseph, II
    (c.1816-91) British silversmith who exhibited at the 1851 Great Exhibition. His claret jugs, table centrepieces, tea and coffee sets are elaborate in style with ornately chased relief work, Rococo scrolls and ENAMELLED decoration.

    angle barometer
    Baromter in which the upper part of the mercury tube is nearly horizontal. In this form, the visable movement of the mercury id spread over a longer scale than in a STICK BAROMETER, and readings are clearer. Angle barometer, also known as signpost or diagonal barometers, were introduced in the early 18thC.

    angle chair

    Anglo-Indian furniture
    Furniture made on the Indian subcontinent, from the mid-18thC onwards, to European designs and often inlaid with ivory. Most of the work was for colonial administrators and their families, although aristocratic Indians were also commissioning it by the early 19thC. Production continued until the end of the 19thC.

    Angoul?me sprig
    Porcelain decoration used at a Paris factory owned by Louis, Duke of Angoul? in the 18th C, and copied at DERBY, WORCESTER and LOWESTOFT in the 18th and 19th centuries. It is also known as a barbeau (French for 'cornflower')

    aniline dyes
    Chemical for carpets and other fabrics, introduced c.1870. They tended to run or fade and were replaced by colour-fast CHROME DYES in the early 20thC.

    animal furniture
    Late Victorian craze for articles made from or fashioned around birds or animals fresh from the taxidermist. Examples included hollowed-out elephant feet used as liqueur stands, lamp bases of stuffed birds, and tiger-skin chairs, complete with paws and head, or supported on giraffe or zebra legs.

    animal interlace
    A decorative ornament or motif often seen in CELTIC STYLE work representing interwined elongated and stylised animal forms.

    Animaliers, Les
    19thC French sculptors of small, lifelike models of wild and domestic birds and animals, usually in bronze.

    Process of strengthening glass or metal objects during manufacture by a controlled and gradual reheating and cooling. This avoids the build-up of internal stress that could lead to cracking.

    1 In architecture and cabinet-making, a flat, narrow band encircling a COLUMN. 2 In heraldry, a small circle or ring in coats of arms.

    Stylised honeysuckle motif. See DECORATIVE MOTIFS.

    Piece of loose material draped over an upholstered chair back to protect it from stains from the users head. The term comes from macassar oil, a common hair dressing for men in the 19thC. Victorian antimacassars were commonly oh white crochet; they were preceded in the 18thC by silk versions that guarded against the powered wigs and greasy make-up of the Georgians.

    antimagnetic watch
    Watch in which mechanism is made of materials that are unaffected by magnetic fields (which cause inaccuracies). Gold and palladium, for example, were used in CHRONOMETERS from the late 18thC, and palladium alloys and nickel steel have been used since then.

    Metallic element with hardening properyies, used in a range of alloy, including pewter.

    Object valued for its age, workmanship, beauty or rareity. Generally only objects that are more then 100 years old.

    Centre of tapestry, lace making and pottery in the Netherlands (since 1832, Belgium). The antwerp tapestry industry reached its peak in the 17thC, with designs reminiscent of the paintings of Rubens. Antwerp pottery produced TIN-GLAZED EARTHENWARE in the 16thC and work inspired by Italian MAIOLICA in the latter part of the century. Its importance declined with the establishment of DELFT.

    See KUTANI

    Japanese mother-of-pearl decoration introduced c.1620 on lacquered articles . The use of the blue-green inside of the abalone (aogai in Japanese) was introduced to Japan from China, where it was used during the late Ming dynasty (1368-1644). In the 18thC, the Japanese Somada school originated a type of mosaic work using fine slivers of aogai, a style that was extensively copied throughout the 19thC.

    See HUMPEN

    apostle spoons
    Spoons traditionally made in sets of 13, the handles topped with figures of Christ and his 12 apostles. The figures are identified by different emblems held in the right hand. Usually in silver, but sometimes in pewter or brass, the earliest known part of a set dates from c.1460. The spoons were made throughout Europe, and were popular, either singly or in sets, as christening presents in the 16th and 17th centuries. the 19thC Britain, coffee spoons, usually all depicting the same apostle, were mass-produced.

    Very hard, reddish-brown fruitwood with an irregular grain. Like other fruitwoods, it is particularly suited to TURNING. It has mostly been used for the legs, stretchers and spindles of country-made chairs and tables, especially in the 17thC, applewood was often stained black (ebonised) or gilded and used for applied carvings, INLAID DECORATION and picture frames.

    applied decoration
    Surface ornament made, modelled or carved and then fixed to the body of an item.

    Lower front edge of a piece of furniture, beneath the surface of a table, or seat of a CHAIR, for example.

    Blue to green variety of the gemstone BERYL. Greenish aquamarines were fashionable in the 19thC, but since the 1920s sky-blue stones have been popular, produced mainly by HEAT TREATMENT

    PRINT made by an etching process invented in the 1760s that enables several tones of varying intensity to be produced. Tiny particles of resin are dusted onto the metal printing plate and fused on by heat. Areas not to be printed are coated with a special varnish. The plate is exposed to acid which bites into the exposed metal, producing tonal areas like those of an ink or wash drawing when printed.

    Abbreviation of the Latin word argentum (silver), used in coin catalogues; it is also seen as ar or AR.

    Interwoven, symmetrical patterns of branches, tendrils and scrolls. It is familiar motif in Islamic and HISPANO-MORESQUE designs, and throughout Europe c.1760-90. See DECORATIVE MOTIFS.


    A shaft, axle or spindle carrying a wheel and PINION in a clock, watch or music-box mechanism. See TRAIN.

    Stoke-on-Trent pottery producing CRESTED WARE in the 19th and 20th centuries including militaria and animals, particularly black cats in various poses.

    Decoration composed of a series of rounded arches often found on furniture backs and panels of the late 16th and 17th centuries.

    architect's table
    18thC table used by artists, architects and draughtsmen, the top of which tilts on a ratchet to make a drawing board.

    architectural style
    General term for furniture and clock CASES, bearing architectural features, for example, COLUMNS and PEDIMENTS.

    Term describing the moulded frame around doorways, windows and panelling in furniture.

    argand lamp
    Oil lamp invented in Geneva c.1782 and widely made in the USA and Europe. From 1810 argand lamps were fitted with an adjustable burner.


    argentan lace
    A form of French needlepoint lace, typically showing flowers on a hexagonal backround and first made in the late 17thC.

    A late 18thC gravy container, also spelt argyll, usually of silver or sheffield plate and said to have been designed by the Duke of Argyll. Gravy in an inner vessel is kept warm by hot water in an outer cavity.

    Ariel glass
    Type of ART GLASS devolped in Sweden c.1936. It contains trapped bubbles or channels of air. Patterns are sandblasted into a glass core, which is then encased in another layer of glass, thus trapping channels of air where the pattern has been cut away.

    Japanese ceramics centre from the early 17thC, the home of IMARI and KATIEMON porcelain.

    A chest (made by an arkwright) typically made of oak, with a canted lid. Arks were used for storing flour or meal, especially in the north of England, until the 19thC.

    armada chest
    An iron-bound strongbox for storing valuables in the 16th and 17th centuries, often with a large, complicated lock on the underside of the lid. Some were for the use of officers at sea, and would have been bolted to the deck of the owner's cabin. Usually of German make, the chests could be anything from a few inches to 6ft (1.8m) long. the name itself was a fanciful Victorian invention recalling chests imagined to be used by the Spanish Armada.

    Any single chair with arms, as distinct from a SIDE CHAIR or a CORNER CHAIR.

    Medieval helmet enclosing the head and with a pivoted visor.

    armiliary sphere
    a scientific globe used for teaching astronomy and cosmography from c.1500 onwards. 16thC examples show the movements of the planets in the solar system, and were often made in Paris; one showed Ptolemaic (Earth-centred) universe, the other the Copernican (Sun-centred) universe.

    French name for large a plain cupbored or PRESS, from the 16C onwards. An armoire usually has two doors, and sometimes one or two selves inside. The German version of an armoire is known as a kas.

    The term used to describe a coat of arms. Armorial is also used to describe designs in which heraldic motif are prominent. CHINESE EXPORT PORCELAIN dinner services decorated with family crests or armorial were commissioned by the European aristocracy in the 17th and 18th centuries, and are known as armorial porcelain.

    Arnold, John
    ( 1736-99 ) British clock and watch maker, noted for his work on pocket and marine CHRONOMETERS and precision watches. Arnold made highly accurate REGULATOR clocks for the Royal Observatory at Greenwich. From 1787, Arnold was in partnership with his son John (d.1843), who continued the business after his father's death. the firm was subsequently run by Edward Dent (1830-40), and three years later by Charles Frodsham, a leading marine chronometer-maker.

    French 13th-16thC TAPESTRY centre from which the word 'arras'-used generally for high-quality wall-hanging or tapestry - is derived. Arras porcelain factory produced noted tableware, 1770-90, and Arras lace, pure white and gold, was sought after in the 17th to 19th centuries.

    Art Deco
    Style affecting all forms of design from the mid-1920s to the 30s. The name comes from the French arts d?coratifs (decorative art), following the PARIS EXPOSITION DES ARTS D?CORATIFS in 1925.
          Related News Stories
          Dazzling Art Deco Figure Found In Chester Semi Sells For ?10,100

    Art furniture
    Part of the eclectic mid to late 19thC British and US AESTHETIC MOVEMENT. Art furniture rejected earlier Victorian opulence and comfort in favour of simpler shapes showing Japanese influence. The movements name , first coined by designer Charles EASTLAKE, was taken from the Art Furniture Company, which manufactured pieces by architect William GODWIN. Early pieces were often made from black wood such as black walnut, but satinwood and mahogany were later used. Turned legs and supports and minimal decoration (usually shallow carvings of incised lines heightened with gilding) were typical. Designers who influenced or were associated with the movement included Bruce TALBERT, Charles VOYSEY, Robert EDIS, Charles Eastlake, William BURGES and Christopher DRESSER.

    art glass
    A general term for late 19th and early 20thC glasswork produced principally for decorative effect, and including AGATE, ALEXANDRITE and TORTOISESHELL GLASS.

    Art Nouveau
    Decorative arts style distinguished by curves and flowing lines, asymmetry and flower and leaf motifs, prevalent from the 1880s to the First World War.

    Arts and Crafts movement
    The work of British artist-craftsmen in the late 19th and early 20 centuries who rejected machine-made goods in favour of those made by hand. The rather purist attitudes of it followers and high cost of their products led to the decline of the movement in Britain after 1900. its influence was apparent in the USA until the First World War, and also in the continental Europe, especially Scandinavia and Austria.

    A tough, springy, whitish-grey wood native to Britain. Readily available and inexpensive, the solid wood was much used in making country furniture in the 18th and 19th centuries. As a veneer, it is found on some Georgian furniture, and ash BURRS are sometimes seen in CABINET work. Ash is still traditionally used for BENTWOOD chairs.

    Ashbee, Charles Robert
    (1863-1942) British architect, designer and writer who became a leading light in the ARTS AND CRAFTS MOVEMENT. He designed furniture - a lighter version of the movement's country style - and ART NOUVEAU-style silver and metal ware. He founded a school of arts and handicrafts in London which later moved to Cotswolds. Ashbee later recognised the inevitable role and advantages of machinery in 20thC arts and crafts, but his early work played a significant part in breaking away from Victorian traditions.

    Rectangular, five-sided or seven-sided weavings made by Turkoman nomads and designed to hang on camels' flanks.

    asparagus tongs
    Scissor-action or pressure-grip 18thC tongs, often of ornamanted silver or SHEFFIELD PLATE, for serving asparagus. They are also known as chop tongs as they couldbe used for serving meat. Usually, the lower jaw is serrated and has an upturned end, and a clip holds the jaws together when not in use. Asparagus eaters, like small sugar tongs, were intoduced in the 20thC.

    aspidistra stand
    Three or four-legged wooden, wickerwork or ceramic plant stand for holding a flowerpot. The stands were fashionable in the late 19thC, when aspidistras were popular plants; they are sometimes known as JARDINI?RE stands.

    London retail company, founded in 1781, producing and dealing in gold and silver, jewellery and other luxury items. It was particularly known for elaborate vanity case containing bottles and mirrors mounted in chased silver and gold. The firm, based in New Bond Street, is still run by the family.

    1 The testing of metals for purity of gold or silver content, carried out by an assay office or an institution such as a guild, according to standards set by the government. In Britain there are currently four active assay offices: London, Birmingham, Sheffield and Edinburgh, each with its own distinctive hallmark. 2 The term is also used to describe a sample piece of work by a craftsman or registration with a guild. See HALLMARK, STERLING STANDARD.

    Astbury ware
    Lead-glazed earthenware made by John Astbury (1686-1743) and his contemporaries c.1730-70, in Staffordshire, and later Yorkshire. Relief decoration was SPRIGGED onto a red or brown body, then covered with a thick honey-brown, green or yellow GLAZES. Models of horses and riders, figure jugs of sailors and musicians, and useful wares were produced. Astbury is also credited with the addition of ground flint and white Devonshire clay to Staffordshire earthenware, which improved its colour and plasticity. Thomas WHIELDON was an apprentice of Astbury's. Astbury-Wheildon ware is Astbury style pottery with Whieldon's coloured lead glazes. Typical articles have relief decoration in clays that contrast with the main body, and lead glazes stained with metallic oxides.

    Small, semicircular beading or MOULDING used on the glazing bars or glass-cabinet doors.

    A circular instrument with a moveable arm for calculating the altitude of the sun and plotting the positions of the stars, for astronomical and navigational purposes. Astrolabes were used from the 2nd century, and although obsolete in Europe by the 18thC, forgeries continued to be made in the Middle East.

    astronomical dial
    Clock or watch dial that shows the movements of the sun, moon, planets and stars as well as telling the time.

    A multipurpose lidded urn, set on highly ornamented, three-legged stand. Invented by the Frenchman J.H. Eberts in 1773, it could be used as a plant or washstand, perfume burner or candelabra.

    1 Any volume or book of tables, charts, maps or plates that systematically illustrates a subject. 2 The singular of atlantes, male figures used as columns in architecture or furniture.

    atmos clock
    A clock in which the movement is wound by changes in atmospheric pressure. The clock was devised by J.E. Reutter in 1928 and manufactured by the Swiss firm of Jaeger-le-Coultre.

    Town in central France famous for its carpets and fabrics since the 16thC. Aubusson tapestry-woven carpets in LOUIS XVI and EMPIRE styles were widely used in the late 18th and 19th centuries. Aubusson tapestries with scenes from the fables of La Fontaine and contemporary prints were popular in the 18thC. Interest was revived this century with designs from artists such as Raoul Dufy and Graham Sutherland.

    Ault Pottery
    British art poetry founded by William Ault at Swadlincote, Derbyshire, in 1887. It produced ornamental earthenware, sometimes with ADVENTURINE glazes, including articles designed by Christopher Dresser.

    A simple cupboard dating from medieval times. Originally the aumbry, ambrey or almery consisted of a recessed shelved area in a wall enclosed by wooden doors, and later developed into a freestanding cupboard fir storing food, with pierced ventilation holes in the doors, which was used until the 16thC.

    Mechanical figures of varying sizes animated by clockwork, and later by battery, and in the 18th and 19th centuries produced mainly by clock-makers. Automata were created for display and for adults. They were often elaborately dressed and capable of detailed movements such as drinking and smoking, or depicted an animated scene with birds or figures. In the late 19thC, automata were largely replaced by mass-produced, mechanical toys aimed at the children's market.

    Smooth-moving walking doll patented in the USA and Europe in 1862. It has brass leg casings shaped like boots and the walking movement is made by a rotating curved bar concelaed within the legs or appearing beneath the feet. The name is derived from the Greek for 'self-propelling'.

    Abbreviation for the Latin aurum (gold), commonly used in coin catalogues; it is sometimes seen as av and AV.

    1 Translucent glass containing metallic specks. The name comes from avventurina, Italian for the brown quartz (also known as 'goldstone') that the first form of the glass resembled. This 'gold avnturine', developed in the early 17thC, owed its appearance to copper oxide used in its manufacture. The addition of chromium in the 1860s led to green aventurine, while chrome and tin combined led to pink aventurine. Other processes for producing these colours were subsequently developed in France and the USA. 2 A term also used to describe a LACQUER or GLAZE of the same speckled appearance as aventurine glass. It may be applied to wood or pottery. 3 The name sometimes given to the minute clippings of gold wire sprinkled over furniture in the process of JAPANNING.

    Axminster carpets
    1 Hand-knotted carpets for the luxury market in the 18th and 19th centuries at the Axminster Carpet Factory in Devon. The factory, founded in 1750 by two French Huguenot refugees from the SAVONNERIE FACTORY, was merged with Wilton Carpet Factory in 1835. 2 Mechanically woven, double-wefted carpets made at the Wilton factory following its takeover of Axminster, and copied at KIDDERMINSTER.

    Ayrshire work
    Type of CUTWORK embroidery on white muslin which hails from the Scottish county of Ayrshire. The work was most widely used during the mid-19thC for christening robes, women's collars, cuffs and caps.

  • Return to Home Page

    Link exchange
    Exchange links with our website

    Antiques Glossary - N
    Antiques Glossary - Terms beginning with the letter 'N'

    Can You Really Make Money While You Sleep?
    If you?ve been utilizing the Internet for any length of time it?s likely you have been bombarded wit...

    The Most Powerful Attribute in Antiques and Collectibles
    What can increase your sales volume and make you more productive day in and day out? You've probabl...