Antiques Glossary - C
Author: Jim Coylecabaret
A small tray, usually of porcelain, with matching set of
cups, sugar bowl, milk jug and tea or coffee pot. A
breakfast cabaret is known as a dejeuner, a set for two a
tete-a-tete, and a set for one person as solitaire.
A piece of furniture incorporating both drawer and cupboard
space designed for the storage or display of small objects,
especially precious ones. The word 'cabinet' - to the end of
the 16thC exclusively and to a lesser extent to the early
16thC - referred to a small room in which precious articles
and works of art were displayed. Towards the end of the
17thC it was applied to furniture. Their popularity during
the Louis XIV and British restoration period and their
elaborately veneered surfaces promoted the specialised new
skill of cabinet-making. Although cabinet-making is
particularly associated with Queen Anne and Georgian
furniture, the term is now used generally to apply to all
Porcelain - usually cups, saucers and plates - which was
made for display rather than for practical use. Typical
examples include early soft-paste porcelain made at chelsea
in the 1740s which is not resistant to hot water but
displays a high standard of decoration.
See jewel cutting.
A curvaceous profile seen in furniture, supposedly inspired
by the shape of a wild goat's hind legs. It is usually
associated with the shape of legs on chairs and tables, in
the form of a shallow 'S' curve, with a broad hip and knee
or shoulder tapering to a slim concave leg below. The
cabriole leg was so popular that the late 17th to mid- 18thC
is sometimes known as the Cabriole Leg Period..
Ornamental container for a pot holding a growing plant,
usually without a drainage hole. The name is derived from
the French cacher (to hide). See jardinieres
A 19thC gold or silver box to hold cachous - pills for
sweetening the breath. The boxes, which were made in
Britain, are very small-1-2 in (25-50 mm) in length-with a
hinged lid, and sometimes a ring attached for hanging from a
chatelaine. The boxes are usually decorated with chasing or
enamelling. They remained popular until. 1910.
Lidless, peach-shaped teapot which is held upside down to be
filled at the base. A tube leading up from the base ensures
the contents do not spill when it is upright. A Chinese wine
pot, brought to Britain by the Hon Mrs Cadogan, is said to
have inspired the first examples produced at rockingham in
the late 19thC. meissen in Germany, copeland, davenport and
other Staffordshire potteries soon followed suit.
(fl. 1740-5 7) A London-based silversmith who is best known
for his candlesticks and snuffer trays. John was succeeded
by his brother William, who continued the prolific
production of candlesticks until 1772.
A cast or blown, thick-walled glass blank carved in relief
and then undercut, leaving the decoration in the form of a
net or cage still attached to the main body of the vessel.
This form of cup was also known as a diatreta, taking its
name from the diatretarii, the Roman glass decorators who
Term for decorative, pierced or chased silver mount that
encloses an inner, plain section of an object. The cagework
technique probably originated in Germany, but was used in
Britain extensively on late 17thC tankards, beakers and
two-handled cups. A cagework box is a snuffbox comprising
plaques of various materials, such as agate or ivory, set in
a pierced metal frame.
Porcelain decoration, of a lacy network of oval and circle
outlines, usually painted in gold. The word is French for
'pebbled'. The design was introduced at sevres in the mid-
18thC, notably set against a rich dark blue background, and
is also seen on worcester, derby and swansea ware. See
Yellowish-brown to smoky yellow variety of quartz. It is the
most important stone in Scottish jewellery. The stones were
originally found in the Cairngorm mountains, and have been
much simulated in glass (detectable by gas bubbles), and are
now usually imitated by applying heat treatment to Brazilian
Creamy-white art glass developed c. 1915 by Frederick carder
in the USA. Its translucency, achieved by adding bone ash to
the molten glass, made it particularly suitable for
lampshades. It was also used in conjunction with aurene
glass, to make cameo glass.
Clock with separate indications on the main dial, or with
extra dials for the phases of the moon, the day, month and,
more rarely, the year. Calendar information appeared on
public clocks from the 14thC, and on domestic clocks from
Plain-weave cotton cloth originally imported from Calicut, a
port in south-west India, during the 17th and 18th centuries
and later manufactured in Britain. It was used, with painted
or printed patterns, for soft furnishings especially during
the 18th and19th centuries.
The world's first negative-positive technique of
photography, pioneered by British scientist William Henry
Fox Talbot (1800-77) in 1841. The process allowed an
infinite number of prints on paper to be made from a single
paper negative. The calotype eventually superseded the
Gemstone, hardstone or shell cut to reveal a design in
relief. Cameos were originally made from gemstones with
different coloured layers to provide a contrasting
background. They were widespread in the Roman era and
revived during the Italian renaissance and neoclassical
period. Shell cameos were carved with Classical-style
portraits and mythological scenes, in Naples and Rome in the
19thC and exported to Britain to be used as seals and
jewellery. They remained fashionable throughout the 19thC.
Glassware made up of two or more layers of glass in
contrasting colours (see cased glass ) in which part of the
outer surface is carved by hand or etched away with acid to
leave a cameo-effect design in relief. Acid-resistant paint
is applied to the design area on the white outer casing;
when the glass is dipped into an acid solution, the treated
design area remains intact while the exposed area around it
is etched away to reveal the coloured glass beneath. See
A dark box with a small opening or lens through which the
image of an object is projected and focused onto a facing
surface. The device was used particularly by 17th to 19thC
artists to produce accurate paintings and drawings.
18th and 19thC portable furniture, including washstands,
writing chests, chests of drawers, beds and chairs,
primarily for military use. The furniture is usually of
mahogany or teak, with brass fittings and removable feet.
Chests would be made in halves and other pieces to unscrew
so that they could be stacked flat for travelling.
Inverted bell-shape seen in ceramics and metalware since
Classical times and particularly popular in the early times
and particularly popular in the early 19thC.
French term for a settee used from the late 17thC. It is
upholstered with some of the wooden structure, such as the
top rail or apron, left exposed.
The means of marking ceramic products that are substandard
or part of a discontinued range, by painting or scratching
one or two strokes over the original factory mark. meissen,
for example, had a range of cancellation marks to denote
whether a piece was to be sold in-the-white, unglazed, or
Branched form of a candlestick, often made as a pair
(candelabra) and used in Europe since the Middle Ages.
Small wooden support for a candlestick, occasionally found
on 18thC desks, tables and bureau cabinets, which slides
into a built-in recess when not in use.
Utensil for holding a single candle, used in Europe from the
10thC or earlier..
1 The woven fibrous strips from the stems of a group of
palms known as rattans, which are used in furniture.
Canework came to Europe from China via the Dutch East India
Company trade in the 17thC. It was popular in Europe in the
second half of the 17th, and again from the end of the
18thC. The Chinese wove the outer fibres of the trees into
very fine-meshed, silk-like, opaque panels. The Europeans
used wider strips of cane, resulting in a light,
straw-coloured, open mesh, usually with octagonal holes.
Cane is a reasonably cheap material, strong yet light in
weight and elastic. In the 19thC the coarser strips of the
rattan palms were used in the production of basketwork
furniture. 2 A stick of glass, sometimes multicoloured, made
by arranging coloured lengths or rods of glass in a bundle,
melting then marvering (rolling) them in clear glass to form
a cane. The cane is then reheated and drawn out until it is
?-? in (3-13 mm) in diameter. When cool, the cane can be
sliced into thin crosswise sections to form the millefiore
effect commonly seen in paperweights and mosaic glass. Canes
can also be combined with twists in drinking-glass stems.
Cream to light brown fine stoneware developed by Josiah
wedgwood from the 1770s, sometimes decorated with bright
blue, green and red enamel colours. Caneware vessels were
moulded to simulate lengths of bamboo lashed together.
An obliquely angled, chamfered or bevelled edge.
Set of domestic tableware or cutlery in a fitted wooden case
with a hinged lid and often with two or three drawers. There
are usually 6 to 12 place settings. The first canteens were
portable cases carrying the eating implements of 17thC
travellers and military officers.
A music canterbury, originally designed in the late 18thC,
is a wooden stand divided by rails into sections for storing
sheet music. Some examples have a drawer or drawers fitted
underneath the top rails. A supper canterbury is a low
wooden trolley used in the 18thC for cutlery and plates -
similar to a deep partitioned tray on legs
A chair made using the cantilever principle, in which the
load is supported only at one end. Mart stam's 1920s
tubular-steel prototype combined strength and lightness, but
its shape was so new -the seat appeared to be floating in
midair - that the public were afraid to sit on it. More
commercially successful examples were produced a few years
later by designers Ludwig mies van der rohe and Marcel
chinese export porcelain decorated in Canton (Guangzhou). In
Europe, Canton generally applies to 19thC Chinese porcelain
decorated with panels of flowers and scenes with figures on
a gilt and green scrolled ground.2 Canton's enamelling
workshops also produced enamel-painted copper known as
Canton enamel. The Chinese acquired enamelling techniques
from Europe in the 18thC and developed their own distinctive
products, almost entirely for export, decorated particularly
in famille- rose and famille-verte colours. 3 In the USA,
the term is used to describe porcelain decorated with
UNDERGLAZE-blue landscapes similar to the British willow
pattern, which was exported from the Chinese port, late 18th
and early 19th centuries.
Marks, also known as standard or excise marks, found on
measures used in public markets and taverns for the sale of
both dry and wet goods, such as grain, wine or ale.
Originally there were many different local standards, but
these were standardised in England in 1826. Scotland
retained its own system into the 19thC
See percussion lock. capital See column.
See drum table.
1 Unit for measuring the weight of gemstones, including
diamonds and pearls. It was standardised in 1914 as
one-fifth of a gram (200 mg), equivalent to 3.086 grains. 2
Measure of the fineness of gold, based on 24 units. A 22
carat gold piece is an alloy of 22 parts pure gold and 2
parts another metal, such as silver.
A firearm similar to a musket or rifle but usually with a
shorter barrel and firing range and commonly carried by
Large bottle used for storing liquids such as acids or for
display purposes in pharmacies. The body of the vessel is
often bulbous with a long, narrow neck and matching stopper.
Carboys were usually made of clear glass in order to show
the colour of the liquid inside.
The main body of a piece of case furniture, before doors,
drawers or shelves are added, and onto which veneers are
which has four hinged triangular pieces that open out to
form a square, lined playing surface, often decorated with
(1864-1963) British glass designer who (1880-1903) worked
for stevens & williams. He moved to the USA, where he
co-founded the steuben glassworks. Here, inspired by the art
nouveau movement, he experimented with coloured glass,
various finishes and the lost-wax process.
(1901-82) A key figure in 2othC British art pottery, who
trained with Bernard leach at St Ives in the 1920s. He left
to start his own pottery at Winchcombe, Gloucestershire,
where he made everyday items such as bowls and cider jugs,
in SLIP-decorated, lead-glazed earthenware. Unlike Leach,
his work followed English rather than Japanese pottery
traditions. A period in West Africa from 1942 marked a
change to stoneware, African motifs and deep blue and green
glazes highlighted by orange-brown brushwork decoration.
A series of bells rung either mechanically or manually.
Mechanical carillons have been used in domestic and public
clocks since the 14thC to strike the hours or play les, as
in musical clocks.
Carlton House desk
A writing table with a low superstructure and drawers at the
back and sides of the writing space. The name derives from
the original design made for the Prince of Wales's bedroom
at his London residence, Carl ton House.
Earthenware and porcelain produced from c. 1890 at Carlton
Works, Staffordshire, which traded as Wiltshaw & Robinson.
The pottery is known in particular for producing art deco
ornamental ware such as porcelain vases with enamelled and
gilded decoration and lustre wall masks, vases and plaques
painted in delicate pastel shades. The pottery also produced
crested ware, coffee sets and cruets.
carnet de bal
Ivory leaves in a decorative case on which the names dancing
partners were inscribed in pencil in the 18th and 19th
centuries. Tablettes are similar, but the leaves can be
removed from the case.
Cheap pressed glass i a highly iridescent finish, produced
mainly in the USA c. 1908-1924. It is so called because it
was said to have been used as prizes at carnivals and fairs.
Style of furniture made during the reign of the British king
Charles I (1625-49). The term is sometimes misleadingly used
for Restoration style, dating from Charles II?s restoration
to the throne in 1660.
Carr, Alwyn Charles Elison
The first truly portable type of clock produced in large
numbers, developed from coach watches and small portable
table clocks. They have a spring-balance escapement, a
glazed rectangular brass case, and a carrying handle.
Heights range from 3 in (76 mm) to 8? in (21 cm). Carriage
clocks were introduced by French clock-maker Abraham-Louis
breguet c. 1796. Over 90 per cent of them were produced in
France, particularly during the height of their fashion,
1850-1914. The limited numbers made in Britain are generally
larger and of higher quality than standard French versions,
and have chain-FUSEE movements, while the French clocks have
carte ? figure
Map incorporating decorative and informative details such as
an ornamental border with.town views or inset pictures of
local traditional costume. The style was at its height in
Portrait photograph, usually full length, but occasionally
head and shoulders, mounted on a small card with the
photographer's credit on the reverse. The idea was patented
by French photographer Adolphe-Eug?ne Disd?ri in 1854. He
used a special camera containing a number of lenses; several
poses could be achieved on a single negative.
Cartes-de-visite were mass-produced during the mid- 19thC.
Spring-driven wall clock set in an ornate, Rococo or
NEOCLASSiCAL-style frame or case, and produced in France,
Germany, Austria and Italy c.1735-1900. Giltwood versions
were also made in Britain .c. 1750-1800, often with a false
pendulum in the dial.
Carter, Stabler & Adams
See poole pottery.
French jewellery firm founded in Paris in 1847. Cartier at
first specialised in enamelled gold set with gemstones, but
is perhaps best known for its art deco jewellery and
watches. Cartier introduced the first wristwatch in 1904 -
of the round-cornered square design still seen today.
A piece of furniture fitted with compartments to hold
papers, either freestanding with a cupboard below and clock
on top, or an accessory for placing on a desk.
The full-scale, preparatory design - either drawn or painted
- for a tapestry, painting or mosaic. A small sketch, which
is enlarged to make a cartoon, is known as a petit patron.
A decorative detail or object suggestive of a sheet of paper
with scrolled edges. In ceramics or silverware, it may take
the form of an oval or shield with a decorative feature or
inscription, and a scrolled frame, and in furniture a tablet
shape with curled edges. Cartouche borders are seen on old
maps and prints.
An elbow chair - a chair with arms within a set of armless
or single dining chairs.
The skill of the woodcarver in furniture-making, as opposed
to that of the carpenter, cabinet-maker or joiner. The craft
gained greater status from the late 17thC until the later
part of the 18thC; it became highly specialised particularly
for cabinet stands, candelabra, mirror frames and console
tables, which might then be gilded.
Sculptured female forms, taken from Classical Greek style,
widely used as ornamental supports on furniture and
chimneypieces from the late 16thC onwards. The 19thC male
equivalents are known as atlantes.
Term for pieces of furniture which are intended to contain
something - cupboards, cabinets, chests, bookcases and
clothes presses, for example.
Glassware consisting of two or more layers in different
colours. The outer casing is blown first into a cup shape. A
second layer is blown into it and the two are then reheated
so that they fuse together. The process is repeated if
further casings are required. The outer layer can then be
engraved or cut to reveal the contrasting layer beneath. See
cameo glass .
1 Glass or ceramic vase, usually one of a pair, with a
reversible lid. The inverted lid serves as a candle holder.
2 Ornate, late 18thC pastille burner like a small brazier on
a stand (see athenienne) , and made of bronze or gilt metal.
Impure form of iron which has been cast and moulded. It has
been used since the Middle Ages, but most extensively from
the 18thC particularly in the Victorian era. Cast iron is
brittle, but cheaper than wrought iron.
Castellani, Fortunate Pio
(1793-1865) Italian antique dealer, goldsmith and jeweller
based in Rome. From the early 1865 he imitated Etruscan and
Roman jewellery and reproduced the ancient technique of
making granulated gold. He also produced jewellery with
filigree decoration and miniature mosaic work. His sons
carried on the family business and their work became popular
in Britain, where it has been frequently copied. The
Castellani mark is a monogram of interlaced Cs.
Container with a perforated lid used for sprinkling
condiments such as sugar, pepper and nutmeg, usually in
silver or pewter. Matched sets are known as cruet sets.
Process of forming metal, glass or ceramic objects by
pouring the molten material into a mould and letting it cool
and harden. Metal items may be sand cast in which a mould
shape is pressed into densely packed quartz and sand
contained in an iron frame. See also lost wax
Fine white stoneware with a slight translucency, made at
Castleford near Leeds c. 1800-20. It has a smooth texture
similar to that of parian ware with low relief decoration.
The most common articles made were jugs and teapots, often
with distinctive blue enamel trimmings.
General term for several varieties of gemstones which when
viewed in a certain direction and light display a streak,
likened to a cat's eye. The effect is a result of a fibrous
inclusion, such as asbestos, naturally occurring within the
gem, and is enhanced by a smooth cabochon cut (see jewel
Small, covered, one or two-handled cup with a saucer used
for caudle, a spiced gruel of eggs, bread or oatmeal, and
wine or ale. Usually intended for invalids or nursing
mothers, the cups were made of silver or pottery,
principally in the late 18th and early 18th centuries.
Shropshire pottery probably founded c.1750, and best known
for its soft-paste porcelain, called Salopian ware, produced
from 1772. Caughley was noted for the excellence of its
potting techniques rather than for the originality of its
design. It openly imitated the shapes and designs of
articles produced at WORCESTER, 40 miles (64 km) away,
sometimes even reproducing Worcester's crescent mark. In the
late 1780S and 90s, much of. Caughley's output was decorated
in bright enamels with some impressive gilding by the
Worcester outside decorator Robert CHAMBERLAIN. Dainty,
CHANTILLY-style floral decoration is typical,together with
Oriental-style blue and white tableware.The pottery closed
c. 1812, business being transferred to coalport.
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creamware pottery introduced by Josiah wedgwood and Thomas
whieldon in the 1750s. Teaware, lidded bowls, tureens and
punch pots were made in the form of a cauliflower. The idea
later extended to melons, pineapples and maize and was
copied at other potteries and in porcelain at chelsea and
worcester. Reproductions were made during the mid- 19thC but
are of inferior quality in modelling, glazing and colours.
A means of flattening a veneer onto a carcass and removing
excess glue. The caul, a heated piece of wood, is clamped
over the surface. The heat melts the glue coating on the
carcass enabling the veneer to stick; the clamps are
tightened, squeezing out any excess glue.
Light reddish-brown aromatic timber from North America and
the West Indies. Because of its aroma and insect-repellent
qualities it was often used from the 19thC by cabinet-makers
for the linings of drawers, boxes and chests, and for trays
in clothes presses.
A European term for Chinese stoneware, initially developed
during the song dynasty, with a translucent green glaze, and
generally applied to any similar green-glaze. The shade
varies according to the iron-oxide content. The word
'celadon' possibly comes from a character of that name in a
17thC French romance by Honor? d'Urf?, who wore a green
An all-embracing term introduced in the 18thC, for wine
coolers and wine cisterns. It is also used for trays or
compartments fitted into a drawer or sideboard, for holding
bottles of wine and spirits.
Heavy, ornate jug, moulded with masks, strap work and
caryatids. The style is typical of that employed by the
Renaissance goldsmith and sculptor Benvenuto Cellini.
The decorative style of the Celts, a people who were
originally from the western half of central Europe and then
spread into Spain, Italy and the British Isles c.250 bc.
Celtic motifs, with their curvaceous line patterns and
stylised animal and human forms, were absorbed into English
and Irish art, and were revived at the end of the 19thC by
art nouveau artists, and particularly the glasgow school.
See lost wax.
Clay-based products which are hardened by firing. The term,
from the Greek keramos (clay), embraces all pottery
including earthenware, STONEWARE PORCELAIN and BONE china..
Vessel of silver or other metal, used for heating food and
warming plates over a charcoal brazier or spirit lamp on the
dinner table or sideboard. The dish rests on a stand
supported by legs, which afford space for a heating device.
Chafing dishes were used extensively from the i6thC. The
term is sometimes used to refer to the brazier itself.
French term for an upholstered or cushioned chair with a
whole or part back, and a long seat.
Chambers, Sir William
(1726-96) neoclassical architect and furniture designer,
and, with Robert Adam, joint architect to King George III.
Chambers was the first British architect to visit China, and
as a consequence his chinoiserie work had a more authentic
feel to it than much of that popular in the mid-18thC.
Holder for a single candle with the sconce set into a saucer
with a carrying handle attached, designed for bedroom use.
Chambersticks were made from the 17thC and often had a
Edge that is planed or cut at an angle, usually applied to
stone and woodwork.
It is uncertain whether special glasses were reserved for
drinking champagne during the 17th and early 18th centuries.
From the 1770s until the mid-19thC, flute glasses were
favoured - a trend that has returned today, because the
narrow mouth retains the bubbles for longer. From c.1830, a
wide shallow bowl of 4-6 fl oz (115-175 ml) capacity was
A tap for dispensing champagne from a bottle without
removing the cork. Similar in shape and size to a corkscrew,
it consists of a pointed tube with a spout and a spigot on
one end. With the spigot closed, the champagne retains its
bubbles. The taps were made, usually in electroplated
silver, from the late 19thC
Range of art pottery developed by the doulton factory during
the early 20thC. Typical Chang ware has a thick, glutinous
glaze in shades of red and grey. The glaze, applied in
layers, has a pronounced crackle. The name 'Chang ware' is
intended to reflect the Chinese inspiration
A soft-paste porcelain factory on the Prince de Cond?'s
estate near Paris, c. 1725-89. Early Chantilly porcelain has
a distinctive white tin glaze and often KAKIEMON-style
decoration. After 1740, a lead glaze was used and decoration
was mainly naturalistic, featuring birds and flowers,
including the Chantilly sprig - a cornflower with two
leaves, and two sprays of forget me-not flowers. The
Chantilly lacemaking industry began in the late 17thC. It is
particularly famed for its delicate handmade bobbin lace of
the 19thC. This is usually a black silk lace with the
pattern outlined in a thicker strand of silk.
Ring on the dial of a clock marked with the time divisions.
Flat-bottomed pot used from the 17th to 19th centuries for
serving potted char (a relative of the trout) and often
decorated on the outside with painted fish. The pots are
about 1 in (25 mm) deep and 6-10 in (15-25 cm) across, and
found in DELFTWARE and CREAMWARE.
Term used from c. 1890 for a doll with a distinctive,
naturalistic expression, or with features modelled on those
of a real child or famous person. A portrait doll is a
French-made character doll and was popular from the 1850s
Large circular or oval plate used for serving meat or for
hanging as a wall decoration. The word is probably derived
from the French charger, 'to fill'.
Any method of decorating silver and other metalware in which
the metal is repositioned, rather than removed by chiselling
or carving. embossing and repousse are both forms of
chasing. Bold, high-relief patterns are embossed; finer
detail is added by the repouss? technique. Flat-chasing is
also worked from the front using hammers and punches,
resulting in very shallow, low-relief patterns similar in
effect to engraving.
Ornamental clasp or chain with a hook from which items such
as keys, watches, seals and trinkets were hung. Chatelaines
were worn at the waist, mainly by women, from the 17thC;
they became less fashionable from c. 1830, but made a
comeback c.1890-1910. They were made in various metals and
often ornamented with enamelling, beading and tassels
(1764-1851) London silversmith who worked with his brother,
William, and was known as a spoon-maker. He was the son of a
silversmith, Thomas Chawner, and in 1796 established a
partnership with the emes family, producing fine-quality
With Bow, one of the earliest porcelain factories in
Britain, founded mid to late 1740s. Chelsea was the only
18thC English factory producing exclusively for the luxury
porcelain market. Minor offshoots, including the so-called
'Girl in a Swing' workshop, an elusive establishment named
after its most famous figure subject, obscure the early
years of production. However, the following periods, named
after the factory marks used at the time, are generally
1A soft, tufted cord of silk, cotton or woollen yarn used in
embroidery or for fringing fabrics. 2 Any fabric made of
chenille cord and, more generally, any of various imitation
velvets produced from the 19thC. These include Chenille
Axminsters, which are large, velvet-like carpets made using
a two-loom weaving process at the axminster carpet factory.
A form of decoration on furniture in which alternating
squares or rectangles of contrasting colours or textures
imitate the pattern of a chess or chequerboard. Chequerwork
was used extensively as an inlaid decoration in the 16th and
The most popular fruitwood for furniture-making as it is
hard and even-textured, with a superficial resemblance to
mahogany, and polishes to a good finish. The cut wood of the
British species varies in colour from pinkish-yellow to
red-brown. Cherry was used particularly on the turned
members of country-made chairs and tables in the 17th and
18th centuries, and by artist-craftsmen at the end of the
19th and in the early 20th century.
chest of drawers
Storage chest fitted with drawers which began to supersede
the panelled chest or coffer in the 17thC. See commode,
Victorian design of well-padded, over-stuffed sofa, often
buttoned, and with back and arms of the same height.
Horse chestnut is a native European species which produces a
pale yellowish wood sometimes with a hint of pink. It has a
close, even grain and has been used over the centuries for
drawer linings, turned work, carving and inlaid decoration,
but it lacks durability. Sweet chestnut is light
reddish-brown, sometimes used as a substitute for oak in
panelling, but rarely seen in case furniture.
Long, floor-standing, framed mirror held between two
uprights so that the angle can be adjusted. Cheval mirrors
were made from c. 1750 and are also known as horse dressing
glasses (cheval is French for horse).
Small 18thC English writing desk, with slender, tapering
legs and a set of small drawers and pigeonholes on top. It
is sometimes known as a lady's cabinet.
r French term for a tall chest of drawers, made in Britain
from the 1750s. The term came to include small sideboards or
side cabinets with a cupboard below, buffets and side
Decorative motif, seen in the 18th and 19th centuries, which
originated in Classical mythology. It combines the features
of a winged goat or lion with a serpent's tail.
Unspecific(and therefore to be discouraged term for
ceramics. See BONE CHINA
A glass-fronted display cabinet for porcelain or
cabinet-ware, introduced in the late 17thC when it was
fashionable to collect chinese export porcelain.
A white clay virtually free of impurities such as iron, also
known as kaolin. It is used in ceramics for its qualities of
strength and whiteness, and is an essential ingredient of
porcelain. The Chinese refer to the porcelain formula
metaphorically as 'bones and flesh', china stone being the
bone, china clay the flesh.
Feldspathic rock, also known as china rock, which is the
essential fusing agent in hard-paste porcelain. When fired
at a high temperature, the pulverised rock melts to a glassy
paste (vitrifies) and binds with china clay to give true
porcelain its special strength and impermeability. It is
also combined with lime and potash in a glaze that can be
fused onto a permeable earthenware body in a single firing
to make it waterproof. The Chinese equivalent of china stone
See tea table.
Chinese export porcelain
Chinese porcelain products imported into Europe from the
16thC, and reaching a peak in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Technically superior to European ceramics until the 18thC,
Chinese porcelain was in great demand, and had a profound
influence on European manufacturers who tried to capture its
quality and decorative effects. The holds of East India
trading vessels, especially from Holland and Britain, might
be filled with flint for use in Chinese porcelain
manufacture on the outward journey, and with china on the
way back. The china was stacked beneath the principal
cargoes of tea and silk (which had to be stored above the
waterline), providing valuable ballast on the return
journey. Most of the wares were of fairly ordinary quality,
but there was a thriving private 'super cargo' trade in
higher quality porcelain often specially commissioned by the
Chinese reign marks
Japanese lacquer technique, which originated in China.
Stylised geometrical or floral diaper (see decorative
motifs) patterns are engraved into a lacquer base and then
filled with gold powder, foil, or coloured lacquers.
Chinese-style ornamentation in the 17th and 18th centuries.
Characteristics of the style include pagoda shapes,
fretwork, motifs of mandarin figures, birds and river
scenes, dragon finials and carved feet. From c. 1690, such
decoration was applied to lacquered furniture, engraved on
silverware and painted on ceramics, especially Dutch delft.
Chinoiserie was back in fashion during the Rococo period of
the mid- 18thC.
Cotton furnishing fabric in plain dyes or with printed
patterns, and from the 1850s with a highly glazed finish.
The word is from the Hindu chint (variegated) and at first
applied to painted or printed calicoes imported from India
in the 17thC.
Medieval and 16thC wood decoration made by chipping out a
pattern with a gouge or chisel. The pattern is usually
contained within a circle, or roundel.
(1718-79) Leading British cabinet-maker whose work was
extremely influential during the early Georgian period and
much imitated later.
Covered vessel for preparing and serving hot chocolate, used
since the second half of the 17thC. The silver chocolate pot
has a hinged or detachable flap or finial in the lid though
which a molinet, or rod, can be inserted to stir up the
chocolate sediment. Molinets are usually made of wood with a
knop or terminal in silver or ivory. A ceramic chocolate pot
may be indistinguishable from a coffeepot.
See asparagus tongs.
An optical toy introduced in 1866 consisting of a lantern
with a window and shutter. Various different images in glass
slides (see magic lantern) are passed across the window.
Each image is viewed for a fraction of a second before the
shutter falls and the next image is projected, giving the
illusion of movement.
Miniature jug used for individual servings of alcohol,
dating from British colonial India at the end of the 19thC.
Chota is the Hindi word for 'small measure'.
(1805-63) Founder of L'Orf?vrerie Christofle, a large firm
of goldsmiths, silversmiths and jewellers, established in
Paris, 1829. In 1842, Christofle obtained the sole rights to
produce electroplated wares in France from the British
silversmiths, elkington. The firm also produced furniture
and bronze furniture mounts.
Chemical, colour-fast dyes for carpets and other fabrics,
introduced in the early 20thC. Although they lack the
subtlety and variety of natural vegetable and insect dyes,
it can be difficult to distinguish between them.
A very bright and hard, silvery metal used in the production
of stainless steel and as a decorative, corrosion-resistant
plating material. Although discovered in 1798, its
decorative potential was not realised until it began to be
commercially available in 1925. modern movement designers
such as le corbusier and breuer used chromium plate on the
tubular-steel furniture that had such an impact on 1930s
A precision stopwatch that has the facility to zero the
seconds hand before restarting it. A split' seconds
chronograph has two stop seconds hands, one above the other,
each of which can be stopped independently
A portable timepiece of great accuracy. In Britain the term
is used specifically for one with a detent escapement, and
in Switzerland for one with a lever escapement, which meets
an official rating of timekeeping. Chronometers were
originally developed in the 18thC for use at sea so that a
ship's longitudinal position could be calculated accurately.
Unlike pendulum-driven clocks, which are accurate only if
stationary, chronometers aimed to be reliable even when
subjected to temperature changes and the movement of a ship.
The standard Greenwich mean time on the chronometer was
compared with the ship's local time gauged by the position
of the sun or the stars. Mapping survey chronometers are set
in a box; marine chronometers are usually in a drum-shaped
case pivoted in gimbals (two rings at right angles to each
other) in a wooden box with a glass lid. Pocket chronometers
were used both at sea and as pocket watches on land. All
chronometers have a seconds hand; some show fractions of
seconds. Most surviving examples are from the 19th and early
A watch, also known as a wandering-hour watch, introduced c.
1675, on which the hour is displayed through a semicircular
arc in the dial. The numeral, carried on a rotating disc,
takes one hour to move around the semicircle and then
disappears from view behind a decorated cover, to be
replaced by the next hour at the other end. The scale for
the minutes appears along the edge of the semicircle.
Chronoscopes generally stopped being produced c.1730, but
there are some 20thC revivals.
The term for Ancient Greek wooden statues overlaid with gold
and ivory, which in the 20thC refers to cast-bronze figures
with ivory flesh parts, popular 1910-30.
Cipriani, Giovani Battista
(1727-85) Florentine engraver, painter and draughtsman, and
founder-member of the Royal Academy of Arts in London
(1768). Cipriani moved to Britain in 1753, and his greatest
contribution to late 18thC neoclassical style lay in his
paintings of nymphs and figures, some on satinwood
An early 17thC surveying instrument with a central compass
surrounded by a brass circle marked with degrees, over which
arch several sights to guide the eye. From 1758, English
surveyors used it with a theodolite allowing them to measure
both horizontal bearings and elevation at one time.
French for 'waxed', referring to a hard, glossy finish given
to fabrics, especially ribbons.
See lost wax.
Barometer containing a straight glass tube, closed at the
top end and with the bottom end immersed in a small chamber,
or cistern, containing the mercury. The cistern cover is
often decorated with bronze mounts and wooden carvings. See
A variety of quartz, usually pale yellow although
occasionally red-brown to red-orange. The main source of
citrine is Brazil. It is often confused with yellow topaz.
clair de lune
French for 'moonlight', used to describe a porcelain glaze
of milky lavender-blue. The effect was achieved by adding a
touch of cobalt blue to a feldspathic glaze, and is most
commonly seen on 18thC Chinese porcelain, sometimes combined
with a crackle of black or brownish-red. It was also used at
meissen without the crackle effect.
19thC wine jug, generally with a glass body held in
decorative silver or silver-gilt mounts. A claret jug
usually has a hinged lid with a thumbpiece which is often
decorated with a figure.
Strictly, a two-handed Scottish sword introduced in the
16thC; the word is from the Gaelic claidheam-mor (great
sword). Since the 18thC the term has also referred to a
Scottish sword with a basket hilt.
See water clock.
Firm of glass-makers founded c. 1837. It specialised in
millefiori, producing fine and highly collectable
paperweights, inkstands, vases and other domestic objects.
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(1899-1972) Staffordshire pottery decorator famed for her
distinctive, brightly coloured designs for A.J. wilkinson at
its Newport Pottery. Cliff set up her own studio at Newport
in 1927 and launched the hand-painted 'Bizarre' range the
following year. She occasionally used designs by
contemporary artists such as Paul Nash and Laura Knight on
her pottery. By the end of her career, Cliff had produced
around 2000 patterns and 500 new shapes.
The illegal practice of shearing metal from the edge of a
precious-metal coin for profit - a universal practice dating
from ancient times. Clipping was relatively easy to do with
hammered coins, although it could be detected with careful
and consistent weighing. The penalties were severe for those
who were caught; sentences of death or limb amputation have
been recorded. Clipping was largely stopped with the
introduction of machine-made coins in Britain from 1662.
The technique of overpainting an already existing design on
ceramics. The Dutch, in particular, used clobbering to
embellish Chinese blue and white export and meissen
porcelain during the 18th and 19th centuries.
Pointers on the dial of a clock which indicate the time.
They are found in brass, silver and other metals, sometimes
decorated with enamel. Early clocks have single hour hands
in sturdy, arrowhead or spear shapes. The first pendulum
clocks of the mid- 17thC have hand-fretted, filed and chased
hands; at this time, too, minute hands became a standard
feature. As the size of longcase clocks increased at the
beginning of the 18thC, the hands became bigger and bolder.
From c.1790, clock hands were stamped out by machine to
create ornate scrolls and curves, 19th and 20thC clock hands
are much plainer and the minute hand is closer in size to
that of the hour hand.
Any watch which strikes the hour and sometimes quarter hours
automatically as the hands go round.
Helmet protecting head and neck dating from the 15thC.
Lidded stool which conceals a pewter or earthenware chamber
pot or similar vessel beneath the seat. The alternative
terms of night and necessary stools were replaced in the
19thC by what the Victorians called a night commode.
The method of coating iron or other base metals with a film
of silver that preceded sheffield plate. It was used from
early times - for plating knife handles, for example -and in
the 18thC for small objects such as buttons and buckles. The
objects were dipped in molten tin; silver foil was pressed
over the surface, and the metals fused with a hot soldering
cloth of gold
art glass developed by J. Couper & Sons of Glasgow c. 1885,
and mostly designed by Christopher dresser. Its name is
thought to come from the Gaelic word for the River Clyde. It
is usually green, yellow or amber (occasionally turquoise or
black), with numerous air bubbles, irregular cloudy streaks
and flecks of AVENTURINE.
Cloudy, bubbly art glass developed in the USA by the British
designer Frederick carder. The effect was created by adding
saltpetre (potassium nitrate) to the molten glass; the
chemical reacts with the heat to form the large, random
bubbles. Cluthra glass is cased with an outer layer of
heavy, clear glass.
Large, portable timepiece in the form of a 4-6 in (10-15 cm)
diameter pocket watch. Such watches, often with an
elaborately decorated case, were used in coaches during the
18thC. Many have hour or hour and quarter-hour striking
mechanisms. See also CLOCKWATCH, SEDAN WATCH
See tavern clock.
Clay-based artificial stone invented by Mrs Eleanor Coade at
her London factory c. 1769. It resembles natural limestone,
but is more durable. Coade stone was much used for garden
statuary until the mid-19thC.
Shropshire iron foundry established 1708, which produced
decorative and utilitarian cast iron ranging from ornamental
vases to stoves and seats. 2 See coalport.
Porcelain factory established on the banks of the River
Severn in Shropshire, 1795, which absorbed the nearby
caughley factory four years later. A form of bone china was
produced at Coalport from 1798 but only achieved the soft
white translucency and smooth surface for which the ware is
now celebrated after 1810. A hard, clear, and highly
lustrous lead glaze, introduced 1820, further improved
quality and enhanced the bright enamel colours used. A
maroon ground, introduced the following year, became one of
Coalport's trademarks. Until this time, output had
concentrated on simply decorated tableware, although there
were Oriental-style designs too, including the willow
pattern, and the much imitated Indian tree pattern which was
first used at Coalport. From the 1820s, however, decoration
became more opulent and lavishly gilded. The next decade saw
an increase in range and even more elaborate designs. Masses
of finely modelled, flower-encrusted vases, candlesticks,
baskets, clock cases and jugs were made up to 1840. Up to
1815, pieces were marked (if at all) 'Coalbrookdale', 'CD'or
'C. Dale' after the neighbouring town. Ornamental vases made
in the 1890s often incorporate small landscape panels
(signed by the artist) within jewelled line borders. These
cabinet pieces competed strongly against worcester and derby
porcelain of the same period.
See aniline dyes.
Circular stand, usually of silver, sheffield plate and/or
wood, within a raised rim or gallery, for port or other wine
bottles or glasses. Coasters were used in Britain from the
1760s. The name is derived from the after-dinner custom of
rolling back the tablecloth and coasting, or sliding, the
port from person to person on a smooth-bottomed stand.
Double coasters on wheels are known as wine trolleys.
Prominent wooden bead moulding commonly used to edge British
walnut and mahogany drawer-fronts, c.1730-1800.
Cylindrical porcelain coffee cup, about 2? in (60 mm) wide
and high. Larger versions are called breakfast cans.
Covered vessel, generally of silver or ceramic, for serving
coffee, used in Britain since the mid- 17thC, when coffee
was first imported. The spout is normally directly opposite
the handle, although sometimes at right angles to it, and is
higher on the body than would be the case on a teapot, to
avoid the coffee sediment escaping.
Panelled construction in which the panels are thinner than
the depth of the frame work. See joining.
Drinking glass or jug with one or more coins enclosed in the
knop or foot. Although examples exist from the early 18thC,
the date on the coin rarely signifies the year the glass
itself was manufactured. Such pieces were made to
commemorate special occasions like a coronation.
Decoration, also known as cold pigments, on ceramics painted
in oil or lacquer-based colours that, unlike enamels, are
not fused onto the surface by firing. Even when coated with
varnish, the colours are prone to flaking and wear. Cold
pigments were used on some Meissen red stoneware and Berlin
faience, but few examples survive. See also HIGH-TEMPERATURE
Cole, Sir Henry
(1808-82) British designer of ceramics and household
objects, who designed an award-winning tea service for
minton, 1846, under the pseudonym Felix Summerly. His firm,
Summerly's Art Manufacturers, operated 1847-50 designing
household wares, with an emphasis on good industrial design.
Cole also assisted in the organisation of the Great
Exhibition, held in London in 1851.
Ring applied to the stem of a wine glass to disguise a join,
used when a glass was made in separate pieces and fused
together. It is frequently seen where a bowl or foot joins a
stem, but may also be seen around large knops.
Vertical support, circular in cross-section. In their
pioneering orders of architecture (see box opposite), the
ancient Greeks introduced three distinct styles -Doric,
Ionic and Corinthian - and the Romans later added the Tuscan
and Composite orders. All of these orders are seen
reproduced in furniture, furnishings and decorative objects.
See also pediment.
1.A decorative effect on ceramics achieved by scratching or
incising the clay while still moist with a comb-like
instrument. The incised areas are flooded with a translucent
glaze. This technique is seen particularly on Chinese
celadon wares of the northern song dynasty. 2 Pattern on
ceramics achieved by coating the body with a liquid clay
slip and creating either wavy or zigzagged lines or a
feathered effect with a metal brush or comb. The technique
was developed by John dwight, John astbury and Thomas
whieldon, and is commonly found on 17th and 18thC
Staffordshire slipware. 3 A glass-making technique in which
threads of opaque glass are applied to the body, flattened
into the still-molten surface by marvering, and then combed
to create a feathered icing effect
Italian comic theatre genre featuring characters such as
Punchinello (or Punch), Harlequin and Columbine. It
developed in the 16thC but was a source of inspiration in
every area of the decorative arts during the 18thC. See
objects inscribed or decorated to commemorate an event or a
In the late 17th and early 18th centuries, the French name
for a low chest of drawers. The word gradually came to
describe any low cupboard or chest which was of a decorative
Compagnie des Arts Francais
See sue & mare.
Freely rotating circular card in a navigational or surveying
compass that is marked with the points of the compass. It
has a compass needle mounted beneath so that it swings to
point to magnetic north.
This is a shallow, ornate box for holding writing materials
when travelling, which opens out to provide a writing
surface. 2 A multifuctional or combination scientific or
navigational instrument, such as a portable sundial combined
with a wind vane.
A watchmaker's term for pocket watches that not only tell
the time, but incorporate extra features such as
automatically changing calendars, stopwatch or repeater
Ornamental glass or ceramic stand dating from the 18thC,
with a shallow dished top and sturdy stem. They are 5-18 in
(12.5-46 cm) tall, and were designed to hold sweetmeats,
fruit, cakes or bread. See tazza.
Plaster-like material made from whiting (chalk), resin and
size or glue, and us
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