Antiques Glossary - G
Author: Jim Coylegabbeh
Term for heavy, coarsely woven domestic rugs from west Iran.
Gabbehs are typically woven in thick wool and brightly
coloured to a bold design.
Continuous convex curves or reeding on metalwork, but also
imitated on furniture and ceramics. Gadroon borders are made
up of interlocking, repeated comma-like bosses, the
resulting effect being of a circle in motion. On European
TIN-GLAZED EARTHENWARE painted gadroon borders, known as
false gadrooning, simulate a three-dimensional effect.
20thC term for an open-sided armchair with upholstered seat,
back and arm pads, and concave arm supports.
He founded a glass factory at Nancy, north-east France, in
1867 (closed 1931) and produced much art glass. Among the
many techniques he developed were the surface decorations
marqueterie sur verre and verreries parlantes. From the mid-
1880s Gall? also designed and made furniture. He drew
loosely on 18thC styles, but added carving or marquetry
decoration. In the 1890s he experimented with porcelain and
A raised border or miniature railing of wood or metal used
as an ornamental surround to the top of a table, tray, shelf
Braid, lace or ribbon woven from silver, gold or silk
threads, used for trimming upholstery, uniforms and
Province in Pakistan from which came stone carvings
combining Indian and Mediterranean influences. Early
examples date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries and depict
Buddha in Graeco-Rornan costume. Later examples, usually
heads, are made of stucco or terracotta. The sculpture was
much collected in Victorian times. Most common items seen
today are reliefs, Buddha figures and miniature stupas
See stem cup.
A Persian carpet design which reflects the layout of a
formal garden or Chahar Bagh (four gardens), which is
specifically mentioned in the Koran as a feature of
Paradise. The earliest surviving examples date from the
first half of the 17thC.
Family of minerals including six varieties of similar red
gemstone, namely: pyrope (rhodolite), almandine, grossular,
andradite (demantoid), spessartite, and uvarovite. The most
common garnets used for jewellery are the very dark red
pyrope or Bohemian stones, which are usually rose-cut (see
jewel cutting) or, on bead necklaces, naturally faceted, and
almandine garnets which are usually cut en cabochon (and
known as carbuncles) or emerald-cut.
Matching set of three, five or seven ornaments, usually
vases, for decorative display. A garniture de chemin?e is a
set for the mantelpiece. The ornaments were originally ? at
the end of the 17thC -Japanese or chinese export porcelain,
or Dutch delft copies, comprising an odd number of baluster
vases and covers with an even number of intervening 'beaker'
vases of cylindrical or waisted form. Silver versions were
made in small numbers in Europe, and in the late 18thC the
term was also used to describe clock and candlestick sets.
Dressing-table sets are known as garnitures de toilette; a
set for a side table as a garniture de table .
Decorative gas lighting piece made in the latter half of
19thC of brass or other metal. It resembles a chandelier,
with branches holding burners emanating from a central
shaft, but is hollow to allow gas to be piped through.
A type of drop-leaf table with a structure hinged like a
gate beneath that pivots out to support the leaves. The
gate-leg was introduced in the late 16thC and in common use
up until the end of the 18thC.
Blob of molten glass that is collected from the furnace on
the end of a blowpipe in order to be blown into shape.
1 Term describing the impresssed decoration on gilded edges
of book bindings, applied with heated finishing tools. 2 The
term gauffered describes the relief pattern on any textile
other than velvet. Velvet decorated in this way is described
as stamped velvet.
Style of painting linked with the ideals and 'sensibility'
of the Victorian middle classes, in which domestic scenes
with a moral, sentimental, historical or literary theme were
British 18thC style characterised by the proportions and
ornaments of classical architecture, applied universally to
buildings, furniture and decorative art forms. Passing
styles within the period, including Chinese and gothic, were
also accommodated. The Georgian era is divided into two main
periods: the early Georgian period, 1720-60, under the reign
of George I up to 1727 and George II thereafter, and the
late Georgian period, 1760-1800, under the reign of George
III. The term 'Georgian style' also sometimes includes the
regency period to 1830.
See nickel silver.
A form of plaster which can be carved and gilded or painted
for use as a decorating medium on furniture. Gesso
(pronounced jesso) is a dense mix of powdered chalk and size
which hardens on drying. It is built up in layers onto a
surface or over a wire framework, or cast into a mould. The
material was often used in place of wood for detailed relief
work on chairs, mirror frames and pier tables from the mid-
18thC and increasingly in the 19thC.
(1648-1721) Dutch-born sculptor who moved to Britain at 19
and became renowned for his carved decorations in wood,
marble and stone. His craft was applied to chimney pieces,
picture and mirror frames, panelling, tables and cabinet
stands. He was appointed master carver in wood to King
Charles II, a position he held until the reign of George I.
He was commissioned by Sir Christopher Wren to carry out
work in St Paul's Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace.
Liquid gold is a solution of powdered gold leaf and oils
containing sulphur. Used on meissen porcelain by 1730, and
in Britain from the mid-18thC, it produces a film of metal
with a similar effect to that of lustre ware.
(1718-80) British outside decorator who was responsible for
some of the finest decoration on worcester and chelsea
porcelain. His London studio also decorated opaque white,
green and blue glassware with neoclassical designs similar
to those found on Giles's work for Worcester.
The most successful firm of British 18thC furniture-makers
outside London, founded in Lancaster by Robert Gillow
(1704-72), a joiner. The company was later renowned for its
elegant, well-made, solid but simple pieces in georgian and
regency styles, and also for its clock cases. The company
appears to be the first British firm to stamp its furniture.
The stamped mark 'Gillows' or 'Gillows Lancaster' can
usually be seen on the top of drawer fronts. The firm
continued to flourish, changing its name to Waring & Gillow
Ltd in the early years of the 20thC.
Any wood that is gilded, whether with gold paint or gold
A flask made of tinted or transparent glass or stoneware
from the 17thC. The flask, designed to hold oil and vinegar,
has an interior division to make two separate containers
each with its own spout.
Mid- 15th to 18thC wedding or engagement ring consisting of
two or three interlocking hoops which fit together to form
one hoop. The setting also splits and joins again to form an
ornament, such as a heart or clasped hands.
(1864-1919) Artist-craftsman and designer, working with
furniture, embroidery, metal and plaster. His furniture is
traditional with turned legs and rails, spindle backs and
rush seats, and was greatly influenced by William morris. He
was involved early on in the arts and crafts movement.
2 An elaborate US made clock, resembling a banjo clock,
designed c. 1818 with gilded decorations, including scrolls,
festoons and birds. 3 In jewellery, pearl or gem drops
suspended in groups of three or more from an earring,
pendant or brooch.
Upholsterer's term for cloth with a highly lustrous surface
Group of designers and architects centred around the Glasgow
School of Art in the late 19thC. Hallmarks of the group's
austere version of art nouveau include stylised floral
motifs, celtic ornament, painted or inlaid stained glass and
applied metalwork ornament on furniture which generally
followed straight or gently curved lines. Their work was
exhibited widely in Europe, and influenced early European
industrial designers, especially in Germany and Austria.
Hard, transparent or translucent substance made from the
fusion of silica, such as sand or flint, and an alkali, such
as potash or soda. When heated to about 1100?C (2000?F) the
ingredients fuse together and become molten. In this state
the metal, as it is technically called, can be shaped by
blowing, casting, moulding or pressing. Glass can be
coloured by adding metallic oxides to the frit.
The shape, size and decoration of drinking glasses,
particularly British ones, often indicate their date as well
19thC term for a type of folding chair dating from the late
16thC, said to be based on one used by the Abbot of
Glastonbury, and reproduced in the 19thC.
In ceramics, a vitreous (glass-like) coating which gives a
decorative and impervious finish. Glazes can be matt or
glossy, soft or hard, smoother textured, of varying opacity
and colour. They are composed of a glass-forming ingredient
(usually silica), a flux (to reduce the melting point of the
silica), and alumina to help fix the glaze to the clay body.
Glazing takes place either before firing (known as green or
raw-glazing), or after the first, biscuit firing when the
body has been hardened off. Lead glaze was perhaps the
earliest manufactured glaze, known from 1700 bc, and using
ground lead or lead oxide as the flux agent. The lead lent
greater translucency and depth of colour to the glaze. It
was used on earthenware and soft-paste porcelain in Europe
until substituted in the 19thC by less toxic flux materials
such as borax. See salt-glazed stoneware, tin-glazed
earthenware. A smear glaze can be a deliberate, very light
glaze applied to the marble-like parian ware, for example,
or an unintentional coating of leftover glaze from a
Sphere showing a map of the world (terrestrial globe) or of
the heavens (celestial globe), that is usually mounted on an
axis and can be turned.
The projecting arm of a sundial, also known as the style. It
casts a shadow, the tip of which points to markings round
the rim of the dial that show the time. For accurate
reading, the angle of the gnomon must be related to the
latitude in which the sundial is set.
tapestry works established in 1662 in Paris and still in
operation today. Gobelins produced tapestries and carpets in
traditional, Classical styles taken from designs, or
cartoons, by eminent painters, such as Raffaello Raphael. In
the mid to late 19thC, Gobelins produced tapestry portraits
for royalty and panels for Parisian theatres. The quality of
the work declined with the introduction of chemical, aniline
dyes in the late 19thC and the use of these was suspended in
the early 20thC. Gustave Geoffroi, director 1919-25, set a
new policy of commissioning cartoons from 20thC artists,
such as Jean Weber, and of using improved synthetic dyes.
Drinking vessel usually with a large bowl on a stem and
Godwin, Edward William
(1833-86) British architect, designer and member of the
19thC aesthetic movement. His light, graceful art furniture
was often made from ebonised wood, showed Japanese influence
in its simple lines, and was easily mass-produced. Art
Furniture, a catalogue of his designs, was influential,
especially in the USA.
The most versatile precious metal of all. It is more ductile
than any other metal, with the capacity of being drawn out
into a fine wire, and so malleable that it can be beaten
into a leaf 4 millionths of an inch (a 10 thousandth of a
millimetre) thick. Gold is resistant to corrosion, and to
the action of solvents. Pure, 24 carat gold is too soft and
heavy to work on its own, and so it is usually alloyed with
other metals such as copper. In 14 carat gold, 14 parts of
gold are mixed with 10 parts of other metal; the finest
alloys are 18 and 22 carat. The colour of the gold varies
according to the type and quantity of metal used in the
alloy. Copper lends a reddish tinge, silver a hint of pale
green; a combination of copper and silver results in a
brighter yellow than pure gold. 18 carat white gold is an
alloy of 25 per cent platinum and 75 per cent pure gold.
Gold anchor period
In 1770, the Chelsea factory was sold to derby, although
production did not cease until 1784. The products of the two
factories merged stylistically into what became known as
(1833-1906) Staffordshire potter renowned for his crested
ware and porcelain ornaments. Goss's Falcon Pottery was
founded in 1858 to produce dressing-table ornaments and
jewellery such as brooches and pendants, in parian
porcelain. He began marketing parian figures, and the
crested wares which became popular holiday souvenirs, in the
and from 1760 Gothic-style tracery appeared on work by
Thomas chippendale and others. The 19thC Gothic Revival
started with poorly executed and over-elaborate Gothic
motifs on European furniture and metalwork, dubbed by the
Victorians as abbotsford style and known as Troubadour style
in France and Dantesque in Italy. British architect Augustus
pugin reacted against this excess in the 1830s, with more
authentic methods of construction and decoration. Later
furniture designers who followed his lead include William
burges, William morris, Bruce talbert, and Charles eastlake.
Water-soluble artist's paint in which the colour pigments
are mixed with a chalky white medium and gum to produce an
opaque paint (as opposed to the translucency of watercolour
paint). Gouache was widely used for miniatures as well as
for larger paintings - sometimes in conjunction with
Carved decoration consisting of shallow depressions scooped
out with a gouge. It is found mainly on late 16th and
17th-century British oak furniture.
(1886-1980) French art nouveau and art deco artist and
designer of glass and ceramics who designed for various
factories such as st louis. His work includes glassware
decorated with stylised flowers in enamel colours, and both
earthenware and porcelain table services decorated with
birds and stylised flowers.
See Louis XVI style.
A footstool introduced in the late 18thC, designed to ease
the discomfort of gout sufferers.
(1673-1751) 18thC clock and watch-maker who brought an
unprecedented high degree of accuracy to longcase clocks. He
made few clocks, but many watches. His introduction of the
deadbeat escapement in 1715 replaced the less accurate
anchor escapement, and his mercury pendulum in 1726 helped
control the pendulum's vulnerability to heat and cold. He
also developed the cylinder escapement for watches, which
led to slimmer-cased designs. Graham married the niece of
clock-maker Thomas tompion, and was in partnership with him
in London, continuing the serial numbers initiated by
1 The patterned edge markings on a coin, also known as
milling. The practice of graining or edge-lettering (as seen
on the modern ?i coin) was usual in Britain from 1622 to
guard against clipping. 2 The decorative, painted imitation
of wood grain or marble onto furniture. Graining was
acceptable in the 18th and 19th centuries but was associated
with cheap, low-grade furniture during the late Victorian
A type of mechanical music player patented in the USA by
Emile Berliner in 1887, using flat discs rather than the
cylinders of Edison's phonograph. Early 20thC models used a
large, trumpet-shaped horn to amplify the sound, and by the
1920s gramophones were housed in a case.
grand feu colours
See high-temperature colours.
Grand Rapids furniture
Inexpensive, mass-produced furniture of art nouveau,
renaissance Revival and other styles made at Grand Rapids,
Michigan, USA, c. 1850-1930 and exported to Europe.
European tour made by young, wealthy 18thC men, following
completion of a formal education. The aim was to absorb the
culture, history and contemporary art of the great European
High-backed, open armchair, dating from c. 1850.
Clock powered by the falling of its own weight. A type which
is suspended on a chain is known as a ball clock, a rack
clock is one mounted on a toothed rack. An inclined plane
clock has its movement encased in a canister which rolls
down a slope marked with the days of the week.
(1878-1976) Irish architect and furniture designer who
became the best European lacquer artist of the period. Gray
made decorative ceramics, including, domestic earthenware,
as well as wood, lacquer and modernist tubular steel
furniture, characterised by plain, linear forms.
An international Exhibition of the Works of Industry of All
Nations, to give its full title - held in 1851 at the
original Crystal Palace in Hyde Park, London.
(1735-1813) English potter who made transfer-printed
cream-coloured wares and fruit-shaped tablewares, glazed by
Josiah wedgwood for whom he worked 1788-1807.
Mythological creature with an eagle's head and wings and a
lion's body, used as a decorative motif during the
1 Brass latticework used as panels in the doors of cabinet
furniture, often replacing glass during the late 18th and
early 18th centuries. 2 See VINAIGRETTE.
A painting technique used on ceramics and glass using shades
of grey and black to imitate either sculpted stone relief,
or engravings as on Chinese jesuit ware c. 1720-50.
British silver coin with a face value of 4d(1.66p). Its name
derives from the word 'great', because of the coin's size
compared with the smaller penny. Groats were mainly used
1350-1560, but were issued before and after these dates. The
Britannia groat, for example, was issued in the 19thC. This
was the same size as the silver 3d but thicker and displayed
the face of Britannia.
Carved decoration found on items of furniture like concave
fluting partially filled with a convex moulding.
A large cross stitch usually in wool on a canvas ground.
Point is French for 'needle stitch'.
Extravagant decorative motif in which figures of humans,
mythological beasts, birds, animals and sphinxes are used at
the whim of the artist. The design elements are loosely
linked by motifs such as intertwining scrolls, strapwork or
foliage. Grotesque decoration was used in virtually every
medium of the decorative arts -carved, inlaid or painted on
furniture; engraved, chased or modelled on silver; woven
into beauvais tapestries; and painted on maiolica. It was
particularly popular during the renaissance and Rococo
periods, as well as later in the eclectic high Victorian
period and in Germany at the same time. The word stems from
the Italian grotte, the subterranean ruins where ancient
Roman motifs of this type were discovered during the
(1884-1967) French interior decorator and designer of art
deco furniture. Groult's furniture features curved lines,
harmonising colours and fine materials.
Base or background colour.
A long chain, usually of gold, and originally one from which
a watch and various other objects were suspended. Guard
chains were popular in Britain from the early 19thC until
the early 20thC.
Stand for holding a candelabrum or torch, a tray or a
basket. Some early gueridons were in the form of a black
human figure - now known as blackamoors - and were imported
to Britain from Holland, Italy and France in the latter half
of the 17thC. The term has come to be commonly used for
small occasional tables associated with the Louis XV and
Louis XVI periods, with a frieze drawer and platform.
interlacing circles derived from Greek and Roman
architecture and used to decorate plain or moulded surfaces
on furniture. See decorative motifs.
A British gold coin first struck under Charles II in 1663
and so called because some of the bullion gold used to make
the first pieces was imported from Guinea by the Africa
Company. The provenance mark of an elephant or elephant and
castle was the Africa Company symbol, and is found on some
of the coins. After some fluctuation, the value of the coin
settled at 21 shillings (?1.05). The last golden guinea was
struck in 1813, but the term denoted 21 shillings until the
introduction of decimal currency. Guineas with a pointed
shield on the reverse side, issued 1787-99, are often known
as spade guineas.
The dominant repeating motif on weavings of the nomadic
Turkoman tribes of central Asia. Gul designs vary greatly,
but are usually based on an octagon shape containing
stylised flowers -gul is the Farsi word for 'flower'. The
motifs are thought by some writers to be tribal emblems, and
therefore provide a clue to a carpet's origin.
(1691-1727) Cabinet-maker and manufacturer of mirrors and
chandeliers. Gumley was appointed royal cabinet-maker to
King George I in 1715.
A large, base metal coinage supposedly made from melted-down
cannons. It was issued in Ireland by King James II following
his exile from England in 1688.
Strong alloy of copper and tin developed in the 19thC to
make guns and also cast to make domestic hollow-ware,
candlesticks and furniture ornaments.
Rubbery material made from the resin of an East Indian tree,
used in the late 19thC for furniture decorations, dolls and
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