Antiques Glossary - A
Author: Jim CoyleAalto, 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.
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.
See DECORATIVE MOTIFS
A series of narrow, machine-made, overlapping
pleats, often used on lightweight fabrics for
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
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.
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
Act of Parliament Clock
See TAVERN CLOCK.
(1728 - 92) NEOCLASSICAL architect and interior
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
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
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
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
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
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.
(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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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
A two handled container used for wine or water
in ancient Rome; and since as decorative vessel;
a small version of an amphora.
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
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.
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
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.
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.
See CORNER CHAIR
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.
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')
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.
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.
A decorative ornament or motif often seen in
CELTIC STYLE work representing interwined
elongated and stylised animal forms.
19thC French sculptors of small, lifelike models
of wild and domestic birds and animals, usually
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
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
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.
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.
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,
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.
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
A shaft, axle or spindle carrying a wheel and
PINION in a clock, watch or music-box mechanism.
Stoke-on-Trent pottery producing CRESTED WARE in
the 19th and 20th centuries including militaria
and animals, particularly black cats in various
Decoration composed of a series of rounded
arches often found on furniture backs and panels
of the late 16th and 17th centuries.
18thC table used by artists, architects and
draughtsmen, the top of which tilts on a ratchet
to make a drawing board.
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.
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.
See NICKLE SILVER
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.
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.
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
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
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.
( 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.
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
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.
A general term for late 19th and early 20thC
glasswork produced principally for decorative
effect, and including AGATE, ALEXANDRITE and
Decorative arts style distinguished by curves
and flowing lines, asymmetry and flower and leaf
motifs, prevalent from the 1880s to the First
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
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
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
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.
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.
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.
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
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
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.
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.
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
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
Return to Home Page