Antiques Glossary - L
Author: Jim Coylelaburnum
Hard, dense yellowish wood with variegated brown streaks. It
was a popular choice for inlaid and veneered decoration,
especially oystering after the Restoration, and at the end
of the 18thC for crossbanding.
French term for Oriental lacquer work with mother-of-pearl
Italian term for cheap, imitation lacquer, used on furniture
in Italy, especially Venice, since the 18thC. Paper scraps
or cut-out prints are stuck to the surface and covered in
layers of varnish.
Delicate, openwork fabric of silk, cotton or other thread
used mainly as a trimming or accessory to clothing. Designs
generally take the form of central motifs made up of
numerous threads, several of which may be collected at the
edge with a whipping stitch to create a ridged effect known
as a cordonnet. The elements are joined either by slender
threads known as brides or by a fine mesh, known as the
reseau. Any additional decorative motifs used to replace the
reseau are known as modes. Lace developed from an embroidery
technique known as drawn thread work. Two distinct types
evolved in Italy and Flanders (an area now mainly in
Belgium) during the 16thC. In bobbin lace (also known as
pillow or bone lace), threads attached to bobbins are
intertwined to form the pattern. Needlepoint lace is sewn
with a needle and a single thread, using embroidery
buttonhole stitches. The various forms of needlepoint are
often named after their supposed town or country of origin,
such as point de Venise. However, point d'Angleterre is not,
as the name suggests, English needlepoint, but a very fine
pillow lace made in Flanders, notably Brussels, during the
17thC. Flemish and Belgian lace are often interchangeable
terms although strictly speaking Flemish should be
restricted to 18thC laces and Belgian to 19thC ones.
Machine-made lace was a product of the Industrial
Revolution. The net was machine-made andlater
hand-embroidered. The first machine-made net appeared around
1764. Chemical lace is an imitation lace produced in Germany
and Switzerland in the 1880s. It is in fact a
machine-embroidered technique identified by the soft, fuzzy
texture of the design.
A very fine openwork technique for decorating porcelain
developed in the 18thC, probably at meissen. A mesh-like
gauze is dipped into liquid clay. When fired, the gauze
burns away, leaving a hard skeleton behind. The technique
was used on porcelain figures by many European factories
from the 19thC onwards.
Parisian firm of manufacturing and retail jewellers
established by the four Lacloche brothers, 1897. The
brothers originally made luxurious, Oriental-style enamelled
jewellery, and in the 1920s adopted the art deco style.
A hard, glossy, natural resin made from the sap of the
Chinese lacquer tree. The sap is applied in thin layers -
sometimes as many as 100 - to a base material, normally wood
or fabric. Each layer is dried and polished before the next
is applied. Eventually a thick, smooth surface is built up
which can be dusted with gold or silver flecks or worked in
relief. Colours, usually black and red, can be added to the
opaque or transparent lacquer. Differently coloured layers
were sometimes applied and topped by a black surface, so
that various decorative effects could be produced by cutting
through the stratified colours. This was known as guri
incised lacquer, or coromandel lacquer or bantam work. In
Japan a technique known as shibayama was produced by
adhering pieces of mother-of-pearl, ivory and stones to a
surface - rather like inlaid decoration - and then
surrounding with lacquer. See japanning.
Small easy chair, with buttoned upholstery, introduced in
the mid-19thC and often paired with a larger gentleman's
chair. The seat is deep and low, and the back inclined and
high. There are both low-armed and armless versions.
A bisque doll designed to look like an adult woman in face,
figure and dress.
(1860-1945) Innovative French designer and maker of
jewellery and glassware.
A design based on a pendent drapery effect. The word
originally described a scarf worn across a knight's helmet
which was stylised in heraldic designs as the mantel around
a coat of arms. In the latter part of the 17thC, the French
applied the term to swagged or festooned drapery. The theme
was adapted by furniture-makers and carved on picture and
mirror frames. Around 1700, a lambrequin border pattern was
developed for ceramics decoration at rouen in France, and
was much used over the next 50 years. Style rayonnant is a
variation in which the lambrequin motif radiates from a
central point. A similar motif is seen on mid-17th to
mid-18thC English silver cups. See decorative motifs.
Glass shaped by heating it over a small flame. The technique
is used to make small figures and ornaments.
A spear designed to be carried by mounted soldiers. Although
superseded by the sword and firearms from the 17thC, the
lance was re-introduced by the French cavalry who adopted it
from the Polish lancers during the Napoleonic Wars, and in
Britain in 1816.
(fl. 1759-81) French cabinet-maker based in London c.
1760-70 and an exponent of Louis XV and Louis XVI styles.
His commodes are noted for their fine marquetry decoration
and gilt-bronze mounts, and a number of Adam-style card
tables and pier tables are attributed to him.
(1779-1819) French-born cabinet-maker who from 1805 was the
leading furniture-maker in New York, USA. His work shows a
delicate interpretation of the French directoire style,
featuring Classical forms and motifs.
Simple brass clock introduced in Britain in the 1620s, and
the most common type of domestic clock throughout the 17thC.
Its distinguishing features include a posted-frame
construction containing the movement, side panels that can
be opened, and a bell on top surrounded by a fretwork
gallery. True lantern clocks - or Cromwellian clocks, as
they were also called - are weight-driven wall clocks which
were sometimes mounted on oak brackets. The first examples
were controlled by a balance wheel and verge escapement; by
the 1660s, they were fitted with a verge and bob pendulum,
and later by a long pendulum with an anchor escapement. A
revival of demand for the clocks in the second half of the
19thC produced spring-driven versions, or earlier examples
were fitted with spring-driven movements within the original
London and Provincial Antique Dealers' Association, an
organisation of antique shops and individual dealers formed
to maintain standards in the trade.
Semiprecious, opaque blue gemstone containing golden flecks
of pyrite ('fool's gold').
Method of finishing edges on metal ware by soldering thin
strips of metal over them. It was used particularly for
concealing the copper visible on the edges of sheffield
Yellowish to reddish-brown timber used for the carcass work
of case furniture in the late 18thC. It is fairly hard and
durable, but has a tendency to warp.
Term used to describe glass decorated with a pattern of
white, or sometimes coloured, threads of glass. Latticino is
from the Italian for 'milk'. The technique is also known as
filigrana (thread-grained). It was developed in 16thC Venice
and has been used to produce three main effects on glass:
vetro a retorti, which has twists embedded in clear glass;
vetro a reticello, which has a fine network of crossed
threads; and vetro a fili, which has a spiral or helix
Laub und Bandelwerk
German for 'foliage and scrollwork', a baroque-style framing
motif similar to strapwork, common in early 18thC.
Dark blue lustre art glass developed by the US designer
Louis C. tiffany in the late 19thC. It has iridescent gold
streaks - supposed to resemble flows of lava - and was
originally called volcanic glass.
Large vessel of brass, bronze or other metal with one or two
spouts, used to hold water for washing hands or feet.
Earliest lavers, orlavabo, date from the 14thC and continued
in use until c. 1800.
A revolving stand placed in the centre of a dining table and
used to hold condiments.
(1887-1965) Swiss-born architect whose real name was Charles
Edward Jeanneret. Many of his furniture designs of the 1920s
were for the leading European furniture-makers thonet, and
were exhibited in his building for the exposition
internationale in Paris in 1925, the Pavilion de L'Esprit.
Le Corbusier's vision of a world where technology and fine
design combined to create the ideal living environment was
highly influential, although his theories were often
(1887-1979) Founder of the 20thC art pottery movement. Leach
went to Japan to study graphics but was instead captivated
by the pottery tradition. He returned to Britain to found
the St Ives pottery in Cornwall. His own work is greatly
influenced by Korean and Japanese forms and glaze.
Glass containing a high proportion - 25-30 per cent - of
lead oxide. Lead glass refracts (bends) the light more than
non-lead glass, thus giving extra brilliance. It can be
blown more thickly than soda glass and is therefore more
suitable for cutting and engraving. The original but
incorrect name for English lead crystal is flint glass. The
misnomer came about when George ravenscroft, a British
manufacturer trying to produce a substitute for Venetian
cristallo, used finely ground flints and potash instead of
the traditional Venetian sources of silica and soda. These
new ingredients led to the formation of fine cracks
-grizzling - which was remedied by replacing a proportion of
the potash with lead oxide.
A pocket watch enclosed in a leather strap for the wrist. It
was a popular conversion when wristwatches first became
fashionable after the First World War.
With wedgwood, a leading British producer of creamware from
the late 18thC. Leeds creamware was widely exported
throughout Europe. It is light in weight, and pierced
decoration was a speciality. A common Leeds feature is a
handle formed of two intertwined strips ending in a relief
motif of flowers, leaves or berries. Most was undecorated,
but some black transfer-printing and blue-printed or painted
and enamelled ware exists. Leeds pottery also produced
fine-grained agate, PEARL, LUSTRE and tortoiseshell wares,
some fine stoneware and small figures similar to those of
Staffordshire potter Ralph wood. Few genuine products carry
factory marks, but other factories copied Leeds ware - often
using a Leeds mark - in the late 19th and early 20th
The lettering on a coin, including the monarch's titles and
sometimes a motto.
(1889-1929) Eminent Parisian furniture designer, interior
decorator and bookbinder who contributed significantly to
art deco style. Most of his furniture was designed in the
1920s. It reflected African and cubist influences and was
often incorporated from luxury materials such as ebony,
silver, sharkskin and lacquer.
(1565-1622) German engraver of glass and precious stones,
who did much to perfect the technique of wheel engraving. He
was given the monopoly on glass engraving throughout the
Habsburg Empire. He worked mainly on fragile cristallo glass
and trained a number of people who later became eminent
engravers, including Johannes Hess and Caspar Schindler.
Glass panel in the door of a longcase clock, through which
the pendulum may be seen. It is sometimes known as a bull's
(185 7-1931) British architect and designer of furniture,
metalwork and ceramics who influenced the arts and crafts
movement. He was principal of London's Central School of
Arts and Crafts 1896-1911, and Professor of Design at
London's Royal College of Art 1900-18. His furniture was
mainly rustic and unvarnished, and often decorated with
floral marquetry. He also designed pottery for wedgwood.
British retail firm established in 1875 by Arthur Lasenby
Liberty (1843-1917). The company specialised in imported
Moorish, Eastern and Egyptian furniture for resale in
Europe, commissioned Art Nouveau designs in fabrics,
pottery, silver (see cymric) and pewter (see tudric) , and
had a major influence on style in the late 19th and early
Steps for reaching high bookshelves, which came into general
use in the libraries of private households in the mid-18thC.
Some library steps folded or converted into stools with
padded seats or even elbow chairs and were called
Extremely hard, oily, dense, dark brown wood from the West
Indies - one of the earliest woods to be imported to Britain
before 1650. The wood was made into drinking bowls, pestles
and mortars, and similar items; the 18thCclockmakerJohn
harrison even used it for the wheels in his early clocks
because of its natural lubrication. Lignum vitae was used
for oyster parquetry on late 17thC furniture, and in the
18thC for small areas of veneer.
Soft, fine-grained, creamy-white European wood. Lime proved
a great success with woodcarvers as it cuts well with or
across the grain. The master carver Grinling gibbons and his
school used it extensively.
Porcelain factory in the East End of London. In its brief
period of operation, c.1745-8, it became the first British
factory to produce blue and white soft-paste porcelain, and
possibly the first to add soapstone successfully to the
formula for whiteness and plasticity. Teapots and
sauceboats, many echoing the silver shapes of the day, and
shell-shaped dishes were the main lines.
An archaic expression derived from the old English word for
illuminating (as in manuscripts), and which is now coming
back into use to describe the technique of miniature
A major centre for European enamel work production since the
12thC, and French ceramic production since the late 18thC.
Several families of potters established factories in this
city in Limousin, central France, in the 18thand 19th
centuries, including the Franco-American Haviland family.
Most production was of domestic wares, often finely
transfer-printed (in outline or in total) botanical designs.
Limoges enamel ware is painted on copper predominantly in
white, blue and gold on a dark blue or black ground. The
enamelling industry declined in the 18thC, but was revived
c. 1820-50 by craftsmen such as Julian Robillard.
Durable textile made from the fibre of the flax plant, which
is bleached to improve whiteness and texture. Among the best
quality is 15th- 18thC Dutch linen from Haarlem. Linen
production declined in the 18thC as the yarn broke easily on
a power loom. When the problem was overcome in the late
19thC, cotton had taken over the market.
1 Device for pressing linen, known in various forms from
medieval times to the 18thC. It basically consists of two
flat boards which can be pressed tightly together (with the
linen between) by means of a spiral screw. 2 A term for a
cupboard for the storage of linen, normally with sliding
trays enclosed by doors with drawers below.
Glass object used for pressing linen in the 18thC. The
vertical handle projecting from the middle of the heavy,
circular base is often ribbed to give a better grip. In
Britain, linen smoothers were also known as slickers, slick
stones or smoothing irons.
Style of woodcarving, especially on panelling, to resemble
hanging folds of fabric. See DECORATIVE MOTIFS.
Glass container, often blue, that fits snugly inside metal
objects such as sugar basins and salt cellars. The glass
lining prevents the contents corroding the metal and perhaps
being contaminated by it. Blue glass also helps to show off
any pierced decoration on the metal container.
(1729-96) Furniture designer and cabinet-maker. Linnell's
early chinoiserie pieces included Rococo-style beds and
sofas. His later furniture was designed to fit the interiors
of houses by architects Robert Adam and Henry holland, among
others, and became increasingly influenced by the
British studio pottery , 1879-89, near Middlesbrough,
Yorkshire, with Christopher dresser as art director for the
first three years. The pottery produced decorative wares,
including teapots, distinguished by simple lines, thick
richly coloured glazes often with Japanese or Peruvian
influences. Later wares used slips and sgraffito as
lion of Fo
See dog of Fo.
See cordial glass.
French for 'boat-shaped bed' - an EMPIRE-style bed with
curving head and footboards, often forming S-shaped scrolls.
A printing process in which an image is drawn on a stone or
metal surface with a greasy crayon. When water and then ink
are poured over the surface the crayonned areas repel the
water but retain the ink. These areas transfer to paper,
metal, and other surfaces when printed under pressure.
Thin, translucent porcelain panels or plaques that on being
held to the light reveal a picture or design with a
three-dimensional effect. Lithophanes were usually made of
unglazed, biscuit porcelain, and were set into lampshades
and lanterns, hung in windows or moulded into the base of
mugs. A wax master of the design was modelled from which a
plaster mould was made as a cast for the porcelain paste.
Subjects were typically on religious themes or based on
paintings. The process was invented in France in 1827 and
taken up on a large scale at meissen and berlin 1830-50, and
also at minton, belleek and worcester.
An opaque or translucent marbled glass with a surface
resembling polished gemstones in a wide range of colours. It
was first made by the Bohemian glass artist Friedrich
Egermann in 1829, and was copied by other Bohemian and
French manufacturers, sometimes with engraved, cut or
Centre for ceramics from 1710 producing tin-glazed
earthenware. Specialities of the period were blue-painted
punchbowls, and tiles transfer-printed in black or red with
contemporary subjects and characters. From the 1780s, cream
ware was the main output, decorated in cobalt blue, enamel
colours, or with blue or black transfer-printed designs. A
number of porcelain factories sprang up in Liverpool, such
as Gilbody (1754-61), Chaffers (1754-65), Philip Christian
(est.1765) and, in the final decades of the 18thC,
Pennington. The history of Liverpool porcelain is still
incomplete; fluctuations in the make-up of the porcelain
paste and cross-fertilisation of designs between the
factories, make identification very difficult without
16th and 17thC term for a servant's bed. Until the last
decades of the 19thC, this would be simply a straw-stuffed
mattress lying on a wooden pallet.
15th to 17thC cupboard. It was used for storing food and
drink and sometimes rested upon a stand known as a livery
board, which doubled as a bench.
Patent name for a tough material woven from wires covered in
machine-twisted paper so as to resemble wicker. It was
popular in the 1920s and 30s, for linen baskets, chairs and
A filler such as pitch or resin used to add density and
weight to a hollow article made from a thin sheet of metal
such as a silver candlestick.
Rounded decoration which projects horizontally, as on the
rim of a plate or dish, or vertically as on the cover of a
Glassworks in Vienna, Austria, that achieved an
international reputation from 1864 under the leadership of
Ludwig Lobmeyr. The company produced fine cut and engraved
glass and iridescent art NOUveau glass until c. 1900.
See flintlock, snaphaunce, matchlock, percussion lock.
(fl.1740-69) Master carver and Rococo-style furniture
designer. Lock published several influential books of his
designs, and his carving featured natural themes and Rococo
shells and scrolls. He is believed to have been employed by
A long-barrelled shoulder gun.
Attenuated figure of a Chinese woman seen as a decoration on
18thC Chinese porcelain, some Dutch and English delftware,
and on worcester porcelain of the 1760s. The name comes from
the Dutch Lange Leizen.
See refectory table.
Tall, narrow, floorstanding clock, also known as a
grandfather clock. The case protected the pendulum, and was
introduced soon after its invention in 1657. The clocks were
produced from the 18thC until c. 1820 in London, c.1845 in
the provinces, and revived c.1880-1910.
Probably one of the first Staffordshire producers of
soft-paste porcelain. In its decade of operation (1750-60),
distinctive wares included dishes, sauceboats and tureens
moulded in the form of overlapping leaves, and what came to
be known as 'Snowmen' figures -because of their poorly
defined features and unpainted but thickly glazed bodies.
Although many later figures were based on meissen designs,
some were original and notable for their exuberance of form
and fresh colours (such as a vivid yellow-green) based on
those used for salt-glazed STONEWARE.
19thC oval tilt-top table supported on a central pillar,
designed for an early 19thC card game called lanterloo, or
(1870-1933) Austrian Modernist architect who was an early
practitioner of functionalism and industrial design that
emphasised practicality and minimal decoration. After
working briefly with the architect Frank Lloyd wright in the
USA, Loos settled in Vienna where he produced several
documents, including Ornament und Verbrechen (Ornament and
Crime), denouncing the use of ornament. He designed simple
furniture in strong, vigorous shapes, and glassware for the
Viennese firm J. & L. lobmeyr.
Sliding wooden rails that support the desk panel of a bureau
or the leaf of an open folding table.
Method of casting metal or glass objects, used since ancient
times, which achieves greater definition than
straightforward mould-casting methods. It is also known by
its French name of cire perdue. A plaster cast is made of
the original model that is to be reproduced. When set, this
plaster mould is separated into several pieces and the
original model removed. The inside of the mould is coated
with wax to the required thickness of the finished article.
For hollow objects, the central cavity of the mould is
filled with clay and the mould is reassembled. The whole lot
is heated to melt the wax so that it drains, or is 'lost',
through holes in the mould. The space left by the wax is
then filled with the molten material. When cool, the mould
is separated and the clay core removed leaving a replica in
the new material. Most lost-wax processes use flexible
rubber moulds which can be easily removed and reused, and
investment casting in which metal is forced into the mould
Carpets with a distinctive geometrical pattern of
alternating rows of octagons and crosses made up of stylised
foliage. Motifs are invariably in yellow with blue details
on a red ground. They are named after the 16thC Italian
painter Lorenzo Lotto who in fact depicted a far wider range
of designs in his paintings. 'Lotto' carpets were made
throughout the 16th, 17thand 18th centuries; most are
thought to come from the Ushak region of western anatolia.
Later examples tend to be coarser in style.
Loudon, John Claudius
(1783-1843) Landscape gardener, architect and author, best
known for his comprehensive Encyclopaedia of Cottage, Farm,
and Villa Architecture and Furniture, published 1833. It was
used as a pattern book by builders and furniture-makers
throughout the Victorian period.
Louis Phillipe style
An extravagant style prevalent in France during the reign of
King Louis Phillipe (1830-48). It featured flamboyant curves
and heavy ornamentation including enamel plaques, bronze
mounts and marquetry. The style followed on from the empire
style of Napoleonic times.
Louis XIV style
The style inspired by the Court of the 'Sun King', Louis XIV
(reigned 1643-1715) and his palace at Versailles, which made
France the leading influence in European decorative arts. It
coincided with the puritan, restoration, william and mary
and queen anne periods in Britain. Louis XIV style was
opulent baroque modified by Classical lines, and marked by
flamboyant craftsmanship. Cabinet-making was notable for
fine veneers and intricate marquetry, with lavish
expenditure on materials such as pietre dure, exotic woods,
tortoiseshell, lacquer work and even precious metals. In
ceramics, it was the time of radiating lambrequin designs at
rouen potteries and chinoiserie vases at nevers. The king
encouraged industries such as these with generous financial
incentives. Louis XIV style spread throughout Europe, aided
by a flourishing export trade, and the dispersal, to
Britain, Holland and Germany in particular, of skilled
French huguenot craftsmen after 1685.
Louis XV style
The height of the frivolous excesses of Rococo style in
France, roughly covering the period 1720-50, although the
king continued to reign until 1774. Although the style had a
less wide-ranging impact on fashions elsewhere in Europe, it
is notable for some of the finest gobelins tapestries,
delicately painted chantilly and marseilles faience and
s?vres porcelain, and the high-legged commode with
serpentine front and ormolu ornament.
Louis XVI style
A French style which coincided with the late Georgian period
in Britain. Its main characteristic - a Classical reaction
against the fussiness of Rococo style -actually predated
King Louis XVI's accession to the throne in 1774 by 20
years. The Classical influence gave the style its
contemporary 1760s name of go?t Grec (Greek taste).
Small settee or wide armchair popular from the late 17thC in
Europe. Love seats were just wide enough to seat two people
in intimate proximity. Love seats are also known as courting
chairs and the French version as marquise chairs.
Term for a small, elegant side or dressing table of the late
17th and early 18th centuries, usually with two deep drawers
flanking a short central drawer.
A Suffolk pottery operating c.1757-1802, and making
soft-paste porcelain, mostly for the local market. Its
output included commemorative souvenirs, tablewares
decorated with the words 'A Trifle from Lowestoft' and naive
Chinese-influenced landscapes. In the 1770s, an anonymous
painter produced memorable tulip designs, often featuring a
fully blown bloom. 'Lowestoft' was also a misleading name
given to what is now described as chinese export porcelain,
possibly because the Chinese wares were unloaded at the
Derived from the French word lune (moon), applied to a
semicircular decoration either carved or inlaid on furniture
or incorporated into a textile design. See decorative
1 Glass or crystal drop, either smooth or faceted, used to
decorate light fittings, as on a chandelier, and ornamental
glasswares. 2 Vase with crystal drops hanging from the rim,
19thC English style.
Pottery with an iridescent or metallic finish. A metal oxide
is dusted or painted on the glaze and fired in a reduced
atmosphere, converting the oxide back to metal. Gold,
silver, copper and metallic pink, purple and dark red are
the most common pigments. Lustre finishes are a
characteristic technique of hispano-moresque ware, and of
some Italian maiolica. In the 18thC meissen used a lustre
technique developed by B?ttger and known as B?ttger lustre
or Perlmutter (mother-of-pearl). Towards the end of the
19thC, they were adopted by British studio potters such as
Bernard moore and at William de morgan's Fulham factory.
A glossed silk fabric with a ribbed pattern, used from the
14th to 16th centuries. It applied specifically in the 17thC
to a form of taffeta which was stretched and then coated
with a glossy gum. Lutestring or lustring was used in the
17th and 18th centuries particularly as a dress fabric and
for bed and window curtains.
18thC drinking glasses, tumblers and decanters attributed to
glass houses in King's Lynn, Norfolk. The vessels are
decorated with horizontal ribbing.
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