Antiques Glossary - B
Author: Jim CoyleBaccarat
Leading French glassworks founded in 1764. Its first
products were SODA GLASS tableware and window glass. From
1816 it began to produce high-quality lead crystal and
decorative glassware. It is especially noted for its
MILLEFIORI paperweights and SULPHIDES, which became popular
in the mid 19thC and remain highly collectable to this day.
Bacchus, George, & Sons
Birmingham glassworks founded in the early 19thC that
produced some of the first PRESSED GLASS in Britain. Its
high-quality CASED-GLASS wares were shown at the Great
Exhibition of 1851. The works also specialised in CUT,
ENGRAVED and coloured tableware, and paperweights.
A low, compact chest of drawers made during the first half
of the 18thC, with a top that folds out to form a table. A
bachelor's table has compartments for dressing and shaving
equipment and surfaces for playing cards or writing.
The wooden backing to an ite,m of CASE FURNITURE or a framed
mirror. Good-quality 18th and early 19thC furniture usually
has panelled back boards. From the late 19thC, PLYWOOD
became more common.
Hindmost member of the pair of metal plates which holds the
mechanism of a clock in place, sometimes engraved with
decorative motifs and/or the maker's name.
An article, usually of woven cane, which was clipped to the
back of a dining chair to shield its user against the heat
of a fire, introduced in the early 19thC.
Navigational instrument with rods supporting two scaled
arcs, invented by Englishman John Davis in 1594. It was the
precursor of the 18thC octant. The observer stood with back
to the sun and aligned one scale on the horizon, the other
on the shadow cast by its sighting piece. The two scale
readings added together gave the sun's height and thus
latitude could be calculated.
Term used by commercial potteries fo the mark printed on the
underside of their wares.
An early form of armless chair introduced in the late 16thC.
It is a three or four legged stool with a back extending
from the rear legs. At the time, the word 'chair' only
applied to seats with arms, and it was not until the early
18thC that the backstool became known as the single or a
A type of SETTLE, made up of a long bench with a panelled
cupboard doubling as a backrest, and often drawers set
beneath the seat. It was a familiar item of farmhouse
furniture from the Middle Ages to the 19thC.
British Antique Dealers' Association, and organisation of
antique shops and individual dealers, formed to maintain
standards within the trade.
The Farsi word for 'knot' in the context of carpets.
Armeni-baff are knotted by Armenians; bibi-baff are,
strictly speaking, very finely woven rugs knitted by a bibi
(princess) of the bakhtiari nomads of central Persia, but
came to be used to describe any finely knitted bakhtiari
A simple, curved metal handle, as in a semicircular drawer
pull, or the handle of a kettle.
Baillie Scott, Mackay Hugh
(1865-1945) British architect of international repute, who
designed plainly shaped furniture decorated with colourful
INLAID work and metalwork, in the style of the ARTS AND
(c.1811-77) Scottish clock-maker and scientist who patented
the first ELECTRIC CLOCK in 1840.
Loose-woven, woollen material, usually dyed green or red and
used from the 17thC to describe a flannel-like cloth
produced in the eastern counties of England. It was used for
covering card and billiard tables, and for lining drawers.
A durable, opaque, easily dyed plastic patented by Leo
Backland in 1907. It is a 'thermosetting' plastic - the
ingredients heated under pressure in a mould, resulkting in
a very hard, heat-resistant material. Bakelite was used for
cheap ART DECO jewellery, in the form of imitation amber or
jet buckles, for example - ornaments and numerous other
articles, from ashtrays to radio cabinets.
A wheel in a clock or watch that regulates the action of the
ESCAPEMENT mechanism and thus of the timepiece itself. Its
effect was erratic before the invention c.1675 of the
balance spring. This uses a spiral hairspring to make the
movement of the balance wheel more regular and ISOCHRONUS;
it was as significant a development in the field of portable
clocks and watches as the PEBDULUM was for standing clocks.
However, the elasticity of the spring is very susceptible to
heat and cold, making a spring balance less acurate than a
pendulum. The problem was overcome by the development of
various forms of compensation balance form the mid-18thC,
especially in association with the development of
Sword belt, usually of leather which is worn over the
shoulder and diagonally across the chest.
A series of turned wooden spheres of equal size used as
ornamentation on the legs and horizontal STRETCHERS of chair
and table legs, mid-17th to early 18th centuries.
A turned column or post, usually one of many supporting a
rail to form a balustrade. The shape is seen in table legs
and chair backs, drinking-glass stems and silverware.
Furniture made either from, or in imitation of, bamboo. It
was popular during the vogue for CHINOISERIE in the late
18th and early 19th centuries, usually crafted in strong
woods such as beech and then turned, curved and painted to
imitate real bamboo. A late Victorian craze for genuine
bamboo furniture resulted in an abundance of rather fragile
tables, bookcases, chairs, WHATNOTS and pot stands; in the
USA at the same time, sturdier simualted forms were
A decorative, INLAID or VENEER strip, in contrasting wood or
sometimes metal. Banding may be used as a border on a door
panel, table top or drawer front. Straight banding is cut
along the grain of the wood; cross banding is cut across the
grain; feather banding or herringbone banding is formed of
two narrow pieces of veneer laid at an angle to each other
to give a chevron effect. Very fine banding is known as
stringing or line inlay.
See WHEEL BAROMETER
Pendulum WALL CLOCK resembling an upturned banjo, introduced
by the Willard family of clock-makers in Boston, USA. Many
reproductions were made in the late 19th to mid 20th
centuries. See also GIRANDOLE.
Bank of England dollar
Silver coin struck for a few years at the beginning of the
19thC. Circulating examples, also known as bank tokens, were
all dated 1804, inscribed with the word 'dollar' beneath an
image of Britannia on the reverse, and had a face value of
5s (25p). The 3s and 1s6d denominations were struck in 1811.
The entire coinage was made obsolete in 1816.
Pottery made by, or in the style of, Japanese 18thC potter
Numanami Shigenaga. The wares are typically decorated with
human figures, monkeys or other animals picked out in
enamels or glazes with touches of UNDERGLAZE blue. The style
was revived in the late 19thC. Most common are enamelled
grey stoneware teawares, often in the form of a lotus or
See POLE SCREEN
See ANGOULEME SPRIG
Shaving dish, usually ceramic but also silver or other
metal, used by barbers in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries.
A semicircular section cut out of the rim fitted beneath a
client's chin. This could also be placed around an arm and
used as a bleeding bowl for blood-letting (surgery being one
of the barber's major functions until the 19thC)
See MIES VAN DER ROHE, LUDWIG
A dark brown, glazed EARTHENWARE with white clay relief
patterns, produced in Derbyshire, c.1860-1910. Motifs of
birds and flowers were tinted green, blue and pink.
Practical containers such as large teapots (with a miniature
teapot FINIAL), jugs and chamber pots were the main lines.
It was sold at Measham, Leicestershire, on the banks of the
Ashby-de-la-Zouch canal, and is also known as bargee or
Embroidery design in which the colours, usually worked in
pointed or flame-shaped patterns, graduate through their
various shades. It is also known as flame stitch, Florentine
stitch and Hungarian stitch.
See JEWEL CUTTING
(1879-1936) German microscope designer and inventor of the
Leica camera, launched in 1925 by the German company Leitz.
The Leica was the miniature precision camera of its kind.
A type of ANEROID BAROMETER that records air pressure,
introduced in the 18thC. The aneroid mechanism moves a pen
against a slowly turning drum on which a graph is mounted.
Instrument for registering atmospheric pressure and
forecasting weather conditions, first made in the late
17thC. See ANEROID, ANGLE, FITZROY, STICK and WHEEL
Pearls of irregular shape that were widely used in Baroque
and Renaissance jewellery of the 15th to 17th centuries. The
pearls were often decorated with gemstones or enamelling to
take the form of mythological figures.
An extravagant and heavily ornate style born from the
architechture of 17thC Italy. For the first time, sculptors
played a crucial role in the design of furniture, ceramics,
ivory and silver, joining forces with gilders and earning
recognition as craftsman in their own right rather than as
the employees of joiners and CABINET-MAKERS. Their influence
was evident in elborate, rather architectural furniture and
in the abundance of cupids, carnucopias, and other such
decoration set in symmetrical, curvaceous designs. The style
dominated the decorative arts thoughout Europe in the late
17th and early 18th centuries, and in a less elaborate form
in the USA during the first half of the 18thC. It paved the
way for the lighter, more frivolous and colourful ROCOCO.
Barr, Flight & Barr
A hollow, cylindrical metal box or drum in a clock or watch
that contains the driving or going spring and is connected
ti the first wheel in the TRAIN. The casing has, from
c.1580-1600, almost universally been of brass. A going
barrel has the first wheel of the train mounted in the same
ARBOR, thus dispensing with the two-part FUSEE. It was used
for the striking trains of the 17thC German Renaissance
clocks from c.1680, as it gives adequate timekeeping for
most domestic purposes.
(1727-1815) Pioneer of the process of stipple ENGRAVING and
owner of large print works in london in the 18thC. He
produced society portraits and domestic and rural scenes.
Earthenware pottery made in Barnstaple, North Devon, and
popular from c.1879 until the early 20thC. Specialities
include simple jugs and vases with respresentations of
birds, flowers, marine life or dragons painted in SLIP in
soft colours, and sometimes wuth outlines incised.
French term for a low 18thC chest with double doors
enclosing cupboards and drawers.
A very hard abd fine-grained STONEWARE made by a number of
Staffordshire potters and improved by WEDGEWOOD c.1768. It
found a ready market as a relatively cheap medium for
reproducing, in ceramic form, the Classical bronzes abnd
cameos which were popular in the late 18thC. Products
included vases (some examples are bronze-glazed), large
busts, medallions and domestic pots.
The term for all non-precious metals including copper, lead,
iron and tin and their alloys such as brass, pewter, bronze
and nickel silver.
(1706-75) Although best known as a typographer, Baskerville
was also a key manufacturer of JAPANNED metalware. He was
based in Birmingham and is credited with intriducing
polychrome painting on japanned bases.
Glass container in the shape of a basket, for sweets or
fruit. OPENWORK sides, attached to a moulded base, are made
from pieces or threads of glass pincered together.
A BRACKET CLOCK with either a REPOUSSE metal dome or a
cushion-moulded (flat-topped with curved edges) wood dome.
A generic term for chairs and other furniture made of
wicker, cane, or woven, coarse sea grass. Wickerwork
furniture, in which the basket weave is worked around a
frame of stiff rods, was popular in Victorian times for use
both indoors and outside, and ranged from round-seated
single chairs to lounge chairs with foot-rest extensions.
See also LLOYD LOOM.
Shallow, circular pocket watch dating from the mid-17thC,
with a rounded cover and back which curves gently into the
central band. The case is often finely decorated with
A hooded WICKERWORK basket used as a cradle, and later used
to describe late 19thC baby carriages with a hooded
Early 18thC CHINESE EXPORT PROCELAIN named after the Dutch
East India Company trading station in Batvia (now Jakarta),
Java. It is typically in the form of tea services decorated
with blue nad white, often fan-shaped panels, and with a
coffee-brown glaze on the outer side of bowls and saucers.
Copies of the style made at MEISSEN in Germany and LEEDS,
England, were also known as Batavian and Kapuziner ware.
London family of silversmiths producing domestic silverware
in the 18th and 19th centuries. Hester Bateman (1708-94),
the best known member, was trained by her husband John, and
on his death carried on the business with her sons. A vast
amount of domestic silver marked by its grace of line and
simplicity of decoration was produced with her mark,
including tableware, snuffboaxes, seals and wine labels.
Hester retired in 1790, and her sons Peter and Jonathan, and
Jonathan's wife, Ann carried on the firm. The change in
management was marked by substituting a thread decoration
for Hester's beading. Ann Bateman's son William took the
business - and the style of Bateman silver - into the
An inexpensive bronze-like alloy used by some independent
18thC coiners (ass opposed to the Royal Mint) and from the
late 18thC for small bozes and buttons.
Distinctive patterned and dyed fabric from the East Indies,
brought to Europe by the Dutch in the 16thC. In the batik
process, melted wax is applied to parts of the design not
intended to take colour, and the cloth is then dyed. This is
repeated as necessary for other colours, the wax being
washed out with hot water after each dyeing. Some batik is
also hand-painted. The process was used in the 16th and
17thC Europe for dyeing expensive facbrics such as velvet,
but the bold batik colours and patterns were printed on
cotton and dyed by other processes from the 19thC.
ENAMEL factory based in Battersea, London, specialising in
items such as snuffboxes, plaques, wine labels, and watch
and toothpick cases. Early porcelain boxes made at CHEALSEA
had Battersea enamel lids. Designs were often
transfer-printed onto a white enamel ground, then painted in
delicate colours. The factory, run by John Brooks, pioneer
of the TRANSFER-PRINTING process, only lasted three years
(1753-6) but its influence lived on in enamelware produced
in South Staffordshire and Birmingham.
A German school of design founded in Weimar in 1919 by
Walter Gropius, an architect-designer. The Bauhaus aimed to
produce prototype designs for everyday, mass-produced items.
It explored the amnufacturing processes and new materials of
the 'machine age' such as stainless steel and plastics, and
coordinated the skills of architects, engineers, painters,
sculptors and designers. The school was closed by the Nazis
in 1933, but revived in the German city of Ulm after the war
and insired industrial design in the mid-20thC.
A form of embroidering textiles using small, coloured glass
beads with, or instead of, needlework. Beadwork was a
popular covering for small boxes and mirror frames in late
16th and 17th-century Europe, particularly in Britain, and
in the 19thC for chair covers, purses, pictures and other
Drinking cup without handles or stem, and usually with a
foot rim. Early beakers were made in wood, glass and
pottery, although from the 11thC there were silver,
silver-gilt and gold examples. British beakers are usually
more plainly decorated that their continental counterparts.
In the 18thC, glasses generally replaced beakers for table
Tall, military black fur hat, originally made from bear
skin. It has been worn by British guardsmen since the 18thC,
and is now part of their ceremonial dress.
Centre for weaving in northern France. The Beauvais Tapestry
Factory was founded in 1664, and ultimately amalgamated with
GOBELINS in 1940. Typical Beauvais tapestries - in the form
of wall-hangings, carpets and furniture covers - have
COMMEDIA DELL'ART scenes or extracts from contemporary
paintings, framed by heavily festooned drapes; Classical and
CHINOISERIE motifs are also seen. They are brilliantly
coloured, often with a dominant yellow ground known as
'Spanish tobacco'. From 1725, imitation Beauvais tapestries
were made in Berlin. The 19thC brought specialisation in
(d.1830) Notorious German forger of ancient Greek coins, who
operated in the early 19thC. Fortunately for modern
collectors, his extensive repertoire of copies was exposed
and published after his death.
The framework of a bed, which raises mattress and bedding
material above floor level. Bedsteads only became widespread
in Europe from the early 17thC. Monument-like bedsteads with
eleborately carved wooden canopies were made during the
RENAISSANCE, the canopies designed to provide privacy,
protection from draughts, dirt and insects. The emphasis
shifted from woodwork to fabric hangings in the mid-17thC,
and a host of different bed styles were introduced over the
next century. 19thC bed designs tended to be more
A pale, smooth and straight grained wood, one of the most
inexpensive hardwoods available. Beech was often stained and
used as a substitute for walnut in coun try furniture,
expecially chairs, of the 17th and 18th centuries. It is
also seen gilded or painted. Although subject to woodworm,
beech has the advantage of taking close nailing without
(1868-1940) German illustrator, architect, craftsman and
designer of industrial and domestic fittings. Behrens's
early furniture, ceramics, jewellery and glass designs were
in ART NOVEAU style, but by 1898 he was designing simple,
stream-lined household onjects for commercial production. He
was a founder member of the DEUTSCHER WERKBUND, 1907, a
group of German artists and manufacturers. LE CORBUSIER,
Walter Gropius and Ludwig Mies van der Rohe all worked under
Beilby, William and Mary
A brother and sister team of glass enamellers in the late
18thC. They decorated wine glasses and decanters with
colourful heraldic designs or rustic scenes with romantic
ruins and creepers, usually in white enamel.
Bulbous brown STONEWARE jug with a bearded head in low
relief on the narrow neck, and frequently with relief coats
of arms on the body. Bellarmines originated in 16thC
Germany, the bearded head said to be that of Cardinal
Roberto Bellarmino, a leader of the Counter Reformation much
hated by German Protestants. Many Bellarmines were exported
t Britain (where they were also known as greybeards), and
copied particularly at John DWIGHT's Fulham pottery in
London. Reproductions were made in Germany until the late
French for 'fine period', generally used to describe an
elaborate and sumptuous decorative arts style which was
prevalent in Europe from the end of the 19thC up until World
A ceramics factory in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland,
founded in 1857. Its speciality was a delicate PARIAN
procelain. Wares are wholly or partly treated with a clear
or pearlised, and sometimes iridescent, glaze. Belleek table
and ornamental items are often decorated with or in the
shape of shells and other marine life. Porcelain strips
woven into baskets and perforated designs are also typical.
A tough bronze alloy used for bells and occasioanlly for
cooking utensils such as skillets.
(1804-63) German-born US cabinet-maker, after whom Belter
Furniture (carved and upholstered bentwood suites) was
names. Belter's revived ROCOCO style was very popular and he
displaced cabinet-maker Duncan PHYFE as New York's leading
craftsman. He patented a plywood process using rosewood
which was then ornately carved.
Indian-style brassware, including trays and table tops. The
genuine articles were made in India, but imitations were
produced in Birmingham from the late 19thC, and sometimes
exported to India and imported back again to suggest
The curved runners of rockers of a ROCKING CHAIR located
between the back and front feet.
(1854-1924) British architect and leading furniture and
metalwork designer in the ARTS and CRAFTS movement. Unlike
the more purist members of the movement, Benson was not
dismissive of mass-production methods, and his factory at
Hammersmith, London, produced commercial domestic objects
such as chandeliers, 1883 - 1923.
Doll with limbs that are in one carved piece rather than
jointed. The bent-limb style is normally reserved for baby
dolls and was first introduced on COMPOSITION dolls in 1910,
and on vinyl models from the late 1930's.
Lightweight solid or laminated timber, usually birch, soaked
in hot water or steamed to make it pliable so that it is
easily worked into curves. The technique was originally used
for 18thC WINDSOR CHAIRS, but a distinctive style of
bentwood furniture really became established in the
mid-19thC with the work of the Austrian furniture-maker
Michael THONET. Thonet Bentwood is strong, light, graceful
and made from solid timber; it was soon seen in homes, cafes
and hotels throughout Europe. In the 20thC, designers such
as Alvar Aalto, marcel Breuer and others, widened the range
of the bentwood styles, usually by using laminated timer.
(1637-1711) French draughtsman, engraver and designer, and
one of the originators of the LOUIS XIV style. Berain worked
as court designer from 1674, and his published symmetrical
designs influenced ornamentation on contemporary furniture,
carpets and silverware. Mid-18thC Moustiers FAIENCE was very
often decorated in so-called style Berainesque.
French name for a deep, tub-chaped, upholstered armchair of
the early 19thC, with continuous top and arm rails and a
slightly concave back. Some versions are caned between the
arms and seat and have a loose seat cushion.
German ceramics centre with FAIENCE factories from 1678, a
minor porcelain factory founded 1751, and a factory
established 1763 which was known mainly for the production
of dinner services and figures in restrained ROCOCO style.
In the 19thC this factory produced BLANKS which were sent to
outside decorators for painting.
Berlin iron jewellery
Early 19thC cast-iron jewellery made principally in Germany.
People were given Berlin iron in exchange for their precious
jewellery to boost the Prussian State gold reserves. Items
such as brooches, necklaces and crosses in CLASSICAL or
GOTHIC-style designs were typically crafted in delicate
OPENWORK patterns and laquered black. Production continued
in Germany and Paris until the end of the 19thC.
Home-worked embroidery popular in the 19thC in Europe and
the USA, using wool which was originally dyed in Berlin.
German wool manufacturers marketed the wools by providing
coloured pattern charts that could be easily transferred
A mineral that forms several varieties of gemstones, notably
EMERALD and AQUAMARINE. The stone in its purest form is
colourless, but impurities cause pale-coloured varieties of
gems including yellow, pink and green beryl.
General term for any edge cut at an angle to a flat surface.
1 Metal rim or band set around the edge inside the shutting
edge of a container. 2 Rim or setting edge of a ring that
holds the stone or ornament, often loosely applied to the
whole setting. 3 Metal rim holding the glass or watch or
Flat jade disk, also spelt pi, with a hold in the centre. It
symbolised heaven and was used ritualistically in China
until the end of the reign of the last emporor in 1912.
Itlalian for 'white-on-white', referring to TIN-GLAZED
EARTHENWARE with white-painted decoration introduced by the
Italians on MAIOLICA in the 16thC. It is seen in mid to late
18thC Lambeth and Bristol DELFTWARE and Chinese and English
17thC box, usually of oak with a hinged lid. Bible boxes
were designed to hold the family bible or other books or
writing materials. Some, designed to double as a lectern,
have a sloping lid.
Indian metalwork - copper, lead and tin alloy, blackened
with a mixture of sal ammoniac and saltpetre, and INLAID
with silver or brass. Bidri ware such as spice boxes and the
bases for hookah pipes was imported from India in the 19thC.
A restrained NEOCLASSICAL decorative art style originating
in Germany in the early 19thC, which was most evident in
(1800-57) Prominent BOHEMIAN glass engraver. He specialised
in portraits but also engraved hunting scenes, landscapes
and Old Master paintings. His work appears on glasses,
beakers and medallions, usually signed with various pellings
of his name (Bieman, Biman or Bimann).
Late 18thC and 19thC style of British coffee pot in silver
or SHEFFIELD PLATE. The design is attributed to the London
silversmith George Biggin (d. 1803). The pots have a
cylindrical or barrel-shaped body and a short spout with
built-in filter for ground coffee; the handle is usually of
hardwood, such as ebony, or ivory. Biggins were either
warmed on a stand over a spirit lamp or placed on a fire
1 A Romanesque (pre-GOTHIC) ornamental motif of moulding
using alternating blocks or cylinders. 2 The THUMBPIECE on
tankards and flagons.
Billies and Charlies
19thC forgeries of medieval amulets, pilgrim badges, figures
and seals. Many were cast by William Smith and Charles Eaton
of London - hence the name. The men claimed to have found
the objects in the Thames' riverbed. The forgeries were
often made in poor-quality pewter with relief decoration.
See DERBY; SWANSEA.
Articles of jewellery and OBJECTS OF VERTU made in Bilston
and other parts of Staffordshire in the 18th and early 19th
centuries. Most enamelled objects made in Britain at this
time, including boxes, scent bottles and candlesticks, came
from the Bilston area. Some incorporated small enamel
plaques, others were coated in white enamel and then painted
with motifs of landscapes, flowers and birds.
A native timber of northern Europe, creamy in colour, tinged
with pink or yellow, and with a fine, even, wavy grain. It
has been used mainly as a solid wood for chairs and country
furniture, especially in the 18thC, and is seen in
BIEDERMEIER furniture. Selected pieces were occasionally
used as a cheap substitute for SATINWOOD. In the 19thC cheap
birch furniture was mass-produced, and after the invention
of the rotary cutting lathe in 1890, it was common as a
veneer and for PLYWOOD.
The wooden hinged mechanism which is found on some 18thC
TRIPOD TABLES. It is fixed at the top of the the pedestal
and enables the table surface to swivel, tilt, fold or be
Fired but unglased ceramics. Biscuit procelain has a crisp,
dry appearance that was used for statuettes and
reproductions of Classical sculptures, initially by SEVRES
from 1753, and later by DERBY and porcelain factories
throughout Europe. Biscuit-firing is the term for the first
firing prior to glazing. See BISQUE and PARIAN.
Barrel-shaped biscuit container dating from bear the end of
the 19thC. Some examples have a matching tray to catch
falling crumbs. Biscuit barrels were made in various
materials including electroplated silver, solid silver or
ceramics, and often with metal mounts.
Late 19thC silver stand for serving and keeping warm
biscuits at the table. The warmers, also known as folding
biscuit boxes, consist of a stand with a central column with
either a handle of finial and two or more bowls which open
out horizontally and close vertically onto the column.
Term for the unglazed, matt-surface BISCUIT porcelain that
was the most popular material for doll's heads from the
mid-19thC to the 1930's, and revived 1960-80. Flesh colour
and features are painted on after an initial firing, then
fired again at a low termperature to fix the colours. The
term all-bisque refers to a doll with head, limbs and body
made of bisque.
A FIGURED silk cloth fashionable for dresses in Europe
c.1695-1720. Designs were inspired by Oriental textiles,
typically with tropical foliage, flora and jagged lines,
woven in gold or silver thread. The cloth was produced in
Britain at the SPITALFIELDS SILK FACTORIES.
See BASALTES WARE
British tankard-shaped leather jug, popular until the 18thC.
It was lined with pitch to make it water-tight, and often
had a metal rim.
A rust-resisting treatment applied to guns or armour, using
either chemicals or paint.
18thC French term for porcelain made in Fujien province in
south-eatern China from the 17thC (late MING dynasty) to the
present. Unpainted wares, including small, finely modelled
figures, large sculptured models of deities and other wares
often with relief decoration were exported to Europe. The
ware was copied by nearly all early European porcelain
factories including ST CLOUD, MENNECY, BOW and CHEALSEA
during the 18thC.
1 A prepared piece of metal ready for striking into a coin,
also known as a flan, or, particuarly in the USA, as a
planchet. 2 Undecorated glass or ceramic item (also called
in-the-white in ceramics) that is passed to an outside
decorator for painting or printing.
See BARBER'S BOWL; PORRINGER
See DECORATIVE MOTIFS
Typical GOTHIC decoration carved in relief on a solid
background, often found on furniture.
An Americal 18thC CASE FURNITURE design in which the centre
section is a flattened concave curve flanked by outer
section of flattened convex curves.
Dull, matt surface on old glassware. This may be caused by
too much alkali in the glass, by the presence of sulphurous
smoke during reheating, or by wearing away of decoration
such a gilding.
blue and white
The most widely-used and longest-lasting decorative ceramic
colour scheme, in which cobalt blue is an UNDERGLAZE colour.
Cobalt blue retains its true colour over a wide range of
firing temperatures, from low-fired earthenwares to the most
highly fired porcelains.
blue cloth helmet
Cloth-covered helmet with a top soike worn by the British
army from 1879 and still worn by some military bands.
Simple blue on white decoration comprising oblique,
regularly spaced, cobalt-blue dashes. The decoration is
found on the rim of 17th-18thC London and Bristol delftware
A type of Crystalline fluorspar with bands of yellow,
purple, blue and white, mined in Derbyshire. It was popular
in the late 18th and late 19th centuries, when it was used
for OBJECTS OF VERTU, candlesticks and candelabra.
The heat treatment of iron or steel which forms a thin
surface layer of blue oxide. This retards rusting, and was
also used to decorate armour.
A shoulder gun with a flared muzzle for scattering shot
widely, increasing the probability oif a hit without taking
aim. In the 18thC it was commonly used as a house or coach
The dining seat of the 14th, 15th ad 16th centuries. Instead
of legs, the stools were supported on boards which were
vertical or inclined inwards towards the seat and held firm
by horizontal APRON pieces.
A short, light-weighted PENDULUM which swings through a wide
arc, and is associated with a verge ESCAPEMENT. It can be
either pear or lens-shaped.
See LACE, TURNING.
A French term meaning 'thicket', used to describe ceramic
foliage or flowers that provide a background for a central
subject. Bocage is typical of ROCOCO style, often framing
figures in a canopy or arbour, and was particularly popular
from the 1750s to the 1770s.
Mix of materials that forms the basic structure of an
article, as in the paste of PORCELAIN.
Region of what was later Czechoslovakia, renowned for its
elaborately engraved glass. The earliest wares, dating from
the 14thC, were made of WALDGLAS (forest glass) - a crude,
mould-blown product which used wood as a source of potash
for the FLUX. Venetian techniques were introduced in the
16thC and wheel engraving was common. The development of
LIME GLASS a century later provided a better medium for
decoration and led to facet CUTTING and elaborate engraving.
One of the most noted engravers was Ludwig Moser who
specialised in portrait work. Although independent artists
produced much of the finest work under the patronage of
German princes, factories such as those at Haida (now Novy
Bor) and Karlsbad (now Karlovy-Vary) also produced
fine-quality ware from the mid 19th to early 20th centuries,
including CASED GLASS and FLASHED GLASS in brilliant
See RESTAURATION STYLE.
Mid-19thC EBONY substitute, made from sawdust and animal
blood or other water-soluble protein. The mixture coagulated
on heating and could be die-stamped into decorative
mouldings for furniture, medallions and trays.
French term for 17th and 18thC wooden wall panelling
ornately decorated with carving. Boiseries were often
painted white with the ornamentation highlighted in gold or
bright colours, and might also incorporate paintings.
Red or yellow, fine ochre clay used as a ground by gilders
prior to applying gold leaf (see GILDING).
A furniture moulding used where two surfaces of differing
A large jug made of sewn leather and lined with pitch or
resin to make it watertight; used from medieval times to the
Literally translated form the French as 'bulging', a term
used for a swelling shape seen originally on chests of
drawers and commodes of the Louis XIV period. The outward
swell or curve towards the base of a piece was a popular
feature during the Rococo period.
Small container for sweets, popular in the 18thC. Also known
as comfit and sweetmeat boxes, they were crafted in a
variety of materials, particularly silver and porcelain, and
often in novelty shapes such as a shoe or a head.
Calcium phosphate from burned and ground animal bones, which
was used as a fusing and stabilising agent in soft-paste
porcelain, particularly in 18thC English factories, in BONE
CHINA, and as a whitening agent in CREAMWARE.
A modified hard-paste PORCELAIN containing up to 50 per cent
bone ash. Its introduction by SPODE in 1794 was an important
step in the development of European ceramics; by the early
19thC, most British porcelain factories were making bone
china, and the recipe is still used today. Bone china is
tougher and cheaper to make than soft-paste porcelain, and
slightly softer but again cheaper to mass-produce than
A lady's elegant, clender-legged writing table often fitted
with toilet accessories. Shelves and pigeonholes, sometimes
enclosed by a TAMBOUR or CYLINDER FALL, are set at the back
of the table surface. There may be a cupboard or shelves
above for ornaments. Bonheurs-du-jour were introduced in
France in the 1760s and soon afterwards produced in Britain.
Inner surface of a gun barrel. The diameter of the bore is
Circular, upholstered Victorian OTTOMAN-type sofa, sometimes
known as a conversation seat, which has three or four seat
divisions and a central cone providing a backrest.
See ROCKING CHAIRS
One of the most common motifs used on Oriental weavings, and
the inspiration for the European PAISLEY pattern.
(1682-1719) German alchemist and inventor of European
hard-paste PORCELAIN. Bottger also pioneered a very hard RED
STONEWARE (1709), a glazed, white procelain (1709) and
Bottger lustre, a pale purple lustre glaze made with gold
(c.1715). In 1710 he was appointed director of the newly
formed MEISSEN procelain factory.
A small plaque. Also known as a bottle label or wine label,
for hanging around the neck of a wine bottle or decanter,
which bears the name of the contents. Bottle tickets were
first made in silver in the 1730s, and later in enamel on
copper, SHEFFIELD PLATE, procelain or glass. Some bottle
tickets carry the name, initials or family crest of the
Elaborately and fashionably dressed, long limbed doll
designed as an ornament for an adult's bedroom, rather than
as child's toy. The dolls were popular c.1915-1930, but
continued to be made in the 1940s. Most have cloth bodies,
although there are also some COMPOSITION, wax and ceramic
A MARQUETRY technique, also known as buhl work, using metal
(usually brass) and tortoiseshell in reverse patterns,
sometimes combined with other materials and often set in an
ebony veneer. It was a popular technique in France from the
late 17thC through to the 19thC, and in Britain from 1815.
The term is associated with the French cabinet-maker and
EBENISTE Andre Boulle (1642-1732) of the Louis XIV period in
France. He specialised in elegant, highly ornamental
furniture - mainly for the nobility. He also produced cases
for LONGCASE CLOCKS and barometers, gilt-bronzed
chandeliers, candelabra and ANDIRONS.
(1728-1809) Inventor, entrepreneur and leading metalware
manufacturer. His factory at Soho, Birmingham produced not
only furniture mounts, buckles, buttons, snuffboxes and
sword hilts, 1759-66, but also, as a private mint, struck
Britain's first copper pennies in 1797. Boulton established
the Birmingham assay office in 1773 and his factory, using
the designs of Robert Adam and a a host of local craftsmen,
greatly contributed to the city's successful silver
industry. From the 1760s he specialised in SHEFFIELD PLATE,
becoming Britain's primary producer. ORMOLU objects, such as
vases, candlesticks and clock cases, and mounts for
ornaments and ceramic pieces were also produced. Much of
Boulton's later work was staff-designed for mass production.
Oval-shaped receptacle, designed for use by woman when
travelling. Bourdaloues, also known as coach pots or
slippers, date from c.1710 and were generally made of
porcelain or pottery, occasionally of silver, japanned metal
or glass. They look rather like sauceboats, but the front
lip curves inwards rather than out.
With CHELSEA, one of the first soft-paste porcelain
producers in Britain. It was the largest of the 18thC
English porcelain factories, and made a broader range of
products for a wider market than Chelsea. Bow was founded in
the East end of London by Irish painter Thomas Frye in 1744.
Soft-paste procelain was produced in 1748, introducing the
use of BONE ASH. The body is tougher than that produced at
Chelsea, but has a 'lumpy', bluish tinge to the glaze and an
orange TRANSLUCENCY when held to the light. Until the late
1750s, the bulk of Bow's output imitated Oriental procelain.
For a time it was the largest producer of BLUE AND WHITE
porcelain in Europe and also made BLANC-DE-CHINE wares.
Figures were a feature too, and often of native British
design. They are less finely modelled and more thickly
glazed than those made at Chelsea ad often unpainted. Some
table and decorative ware followed a modified ROCOCO style
and contemporary fashions in silverware, with applied shells
and seaweed on table centrepieces and scrolled bases for
figures, for example. From the late 1750s, Bow decorations
were inspired by MEISSEN, SEVRES, and WORCESTER, but with
lower-quality results. Some 30 years after its foundation,
Bow was bought by Derby following a period of decline. Few
Bow wares carry a mark, although the device of a dagger and
anchor painted in dark iron red is occasionally found on
flatwares and figures.
A curving, convex front on a chest of drawers, commode,
cabinet or sideboard, also known as swell front.
A knife with a broad curved-back blade, named after James
Bowie (1796-1836), a Kentuckian colonel. It was popular in
the USA but most were manufactured in Britain.
Bed enclosed on three sides by framed panelling, on the
fourth side by curtains or sliding panels, and above by a
flat TESTER. Box bedsteads were seen in poor households in
Scotland and the North of England and Wales u to the
a 17thC JOINED oak stool with a box beneath a hinged seat.
A FLINTLOCK or percussion firearm with the firing mechanism
mounted centrally on the stock.
A very close-grained, yellow HARDWOOD native to Europe. It
was expecially popular for stringing (see BANDING) in the
late 18th and early 19th centuries. It was also ideal for
blocks for wood ENGRAVING and for moulds. The undulating
figure of the wood from its roots and branches made box a
popular material for INLAID WORK and MARQUETRY in the 16th
and 17th centuries.
A general term for a spring driven clock, usually
wooden-cased, with a vertical dial on the front face and
generally with a PENDULUM-controlled ESCAPEMENT. The
movement, or mechanism, is contained between two vertical
plates. The term originates from the fact that lthough most
clocks of this type stood on pieces of furniture, some were
furnished with a suporting wall bracket. In the 17th and
18th centuries, they were called spring clocks.
(1880-1960) The most renowned French metalworker of the ART
DECO period, and designer of furniture, screens and
decorative panels. He used a combination of mettals, such as
iron, brass and copper and is also known for this
wrought-iron work, often with a hammered finish. Brandt
formed a company in New York called Ferrobrandt.
Shallow, oval bowl with two opposing handles, used both for
tasting and for drinking brandy. Brandy bowls were made in
Holland in the 17th and 18th centuries abnd revived in the
19thC; in the early 18thC, versions made in New York were
exported to Britain.
A strong yellow alloy of copper and zinc; a higher level of
zinc prouces a yellower metal. Brass is malleable and easy
to work. It has been worked in Britain from the Middle Ages.
Large-scale production came c.1700, with better quality
metal from c.1720. Some small brass ornaments and mounts for
clocks were silvered. In the 19thC, thin sheet brass was
introduced and designs were stamped out under presses to
produce ornaments, inkstands, letter racks and door
See COFFEE CAN
A small, light, four-legged table with two extendible hinged
flaps. The custom of entertaining friends to a late
breakfast died out towards the end of the 18thC, and the
term becamse more generally applied to lighter and smaller
versions of dining tables for use in the breakfast room.
Term used to describe a piece of furniture with part of its
fromt projecting. Breakfront bookcases, sideboards,
wardrobes and clothes presses were popular in the 18th and
The closed end of a barrell, where the charge or cartridge
is placed. Beech=loading weapons were easier to load than
muzzle-loading ones. Although they were used from the 15thC,
it was not until the 19thC that they were perfected.
(1747-1823) Swiss born watchmaker working in Paris from
c.1762. He specialises in subscription watches or
souscription watches which were made to order for clients or
subscribers, and self-winding watches. In 1795, Breguet
invented an escapement mechanism-called the tourbillon which
reduced errors caused by the changing position of a watch as
it was carried around. He also developed montres a tact
which have knobs set at each hour for telling the time by
touch in the dark. Breguet's watch cases are often very
thin, with gold or silver dials. He signed his pieces
'Braguet a Paris' until 1791, when he developed a hidden
signature to discourage forgeries. He went into partnership
with his son Louis-Antoine c.1807.
Small ornament worn on a watch chain or CHATELAINE. It was
typically made of gold or enamel and often in the form of a
tiny statuette. Porcelain breloaques were made at CHELSEA
and DERBY in the 18thC.
Bretby Art Pottery
Derbyshire earthenware pottery, established 1883. Bretby
made pieces to the designs of Christopher DRESSER.
(1902-81) Hungariab-born furniture designer and architect,
specialising in interiors. Breuer trained at the BAUHAUS
school of design. His furniture was easily mass-produced and
he was largely responsible for introducing chrome into
ordinary households for the first time. Many of Breuer's
designs were produced by the THONET brothers' furniture
factory in Vienna. Breuer left Germany for Britain in 1935
and two years later settled in the USA.
method of engraving metal articles especially ADAM-style
silverware, developed in late 18thC Birmingham. The
engraving instrument, or graver, has a double edge which
removes slivers of metal and burnishes the cut surface to
produce a smooth, polished, FACETED decoration.
Radiant brightness of a diamond or other transparent
gemstone, enhanced by the skilled arrangement of FACETS. A
stone's brilliance is enhanced if the facets cause a greater
deflection of light entering a stone and minimal loss of
light through the stone's base.
See JEWEL CUTTING
See JEWEL CUTTING
(c.1579-1646) French DIE-sinker who produced machine-made
coins of very high quality for Charles I in the 1630s.
See PIANO DOLL
1 A centre for British glassmaking from the mid 17th to 19th
centuries. Bristol glass-making was established c.1651; in
the 18thC opaque white glass resembling porcelain and often
decorated in similar style was important, but the city best
became known for its 'Bristol' blue glass made in the late
18thC, most notably by Lazarus and Isaac Jacobs. It was used
to make DECANTERS, finger bowls, patch boxes and liners for
silver casters, and other wares, which were often gilded.
Blue glass was produced at many other factorties in Britain
and firm attribution is usually impossible. The city's
glass-makers were also noted for their high quality cutting,
engraving and enamelling. See also NAILSEA. 2 An important
ceramics centre for the production of TIN-GLAZED EARTHENWARE
in the 17th abd 18th centuries. This initially followed the
style of Italian MAIOLICA, and later of DELFTWARE. In 1750 a
soft-paste PORCELAIN formula containing SOAPSTONE was
pioneered at a Bristol factory founded by Benjamin Lund. A
limited range of BLUE AND WHITE domestic ware as produced.
This soapstone formula was perfected by WORCESTER, which
took over Lund's company in 1752. In 1770, William
COOKWORTHY, the chemist who made Britain's first hard-paste
porcelain, transferred his PLYMOUTH factory to Bristol. The
Bristol factory closed in 1781, the patent rights
transferring to NEWHALL in Staffordshire.
A type of PEWTER containing no lead but a high proportion of
tin, and shaped by a process known as SPINNING. This formed
objects around a pattern (or model) on a power-driven wheel,
which produced thinnner wares than the earlier cast pewter.
Britannia metal was made extensively in Sheffield, London
and Birmingham. From the second half of the 19thC it was
often used as the base metal in ELECTROPLATING instead of
copper or nickel silver and marked 'EPBM' (electroplated
britannia metal). This is softer that electroplated nickel
cilver (EPNS) and melts easily, so is difficult to repair.
The compulsory standard for silverware in Britain 1697-1720.
The proportion of pure silver (95.8 per cent). It was
introduced as a deterrent against the practice of melting
down sterling silver coinage to make domestic silverware.
After 1720, the production of Britannia silver was optional.
Gold ?1 coin struck in 1656 which was circulated for only a
short period. Broads usually bear a portrait of Oliver
A cutting sword with a flat, wide, double-edged blade.
Finely woven textile with coloured threads added to form a
raised pattern on the upper surface of the material, making
a richly figured cloth. (The word brocade derives from the
Latin brocare meaning 'to figure'.) Originally the ground
patterns of flowers and scrolls were in gold or silver, and
the fabric was known as cloth of gold; coloured silk threads
came later, and today, cotton and man-made fibres are used.
Brocade can be made in various weights for dressmaking or
furnishings. Brocantine is brocade with a raised pattern
that imitates embroidery.
(1867-90) French glass maker who recvived 13th-century
Syrian techniques of enamelling in brilliant colours. Early
works copied Islamic lamps and tableware, but later output
was original - mainly MOULDED GLASSWARE decorated with more
subdued ENAMEL colours.
1 Imitation BROCADE made of cotton or silk, with a raised
pattern in the warp and a flat weft background. The term is
often used to refer to any cloth with a raised pattern. 2 A
variegated marble which was used to make table tops in the
18thC, also known as brocatello.
A mis-struck coin, on which the design appears normally on
one side, but with the same design in INTAGLIO or INCUSE
form on the other. It is caused by a previously struck coin
failing to eject from the pair of DIES.
(1817-78) French clock-maker who devised the BROCOT
SUSPENSION which enabled timekeeping to be regulated by
altering the length of the PENDULUM suspension spring by a
key turned in the dial. He also introduced a JEWELLED
deadbeat ESCAPEMENT, sometimes called a visible escapement
as it was often mounted in the middle of the dial.
Mid-19thC CUTWORK embroidery, usually of linen or cotton,
made in Britain and parts of Europe from the late 18thC.
Floral patterns are formed by embroidering around holes cut
in the fabric in buttonhole stitch.
(fl.1842-85) London based jeweller who specialised in
antique and archaeological styles. Typical Brogden pieces
incorporate Classical motifs and reliefs inspired by the
Etruscan, Assyrian and Egyptian civilisations and pieces
mounted with the claws of tigers or vultures.
Matt black decoration painted on glass. The technique, also
known as BRONZITE, was developed c.1910 in Vi
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