Antiques Glossary - R
Author: Jim CoyleRace, Ernest
(1913-64) English textile and furniture designer, whose work
combined the traditional with the modern and was
internationally acclaimed. He is probably best known for his
comfortable and ingenious chairs, such as the 'BA' chair
(1947) of cast aluminium.
See gravity clock.
A combined wireless set and gramophone with a single inbuilt
loudspeaker, popular in Britain 1930-1960.
Raised anchor period
(1749-52) Tableware reflects the silver fashions of the day,
and there is also a strong meissen influence in decoration,
shapes and figure modelling. Oriental styles were adopted,
particularly those of Japanese kakeimon porcelain. From the
1750s, the trinkets known as toys became a Chelsea
Technique of making metal hollow-ware. A flat disc of metal
is hammered over an anvil-like stake to gradually raise the
sides to the required shape and depth.
Porous-bodied Japanese pottery coated with a thick lead
glaze, in colours ranging from dark brown and light red to
straw, green and cream. The ware was first made in the
16thC, and being closely associated with the tea ceremony,
is still used in Japan today.
(1873-1939) Sheffield-born silversmith, associated with the
arts and crafts movement. Ramsden specialised in the design
of silver and gold presentation and ceremonial pieces,
including plates, wine cups and masers. In 1898, he
established a London workshop with silversmith Alwyn Charles
Elison Carr, who executed Ramsden's designs. They produced
handmade, Arts and Crafts and celtic-style objects in silver
and other metals such as pewter and wrought iron. Carr left
the workshop in 1918 and Ramsden continued producing art
Sets of identical small tables that can be fitted together
to form one large table, made in the late 18th and early
A sword with a long, narrow, stiff blade designed for
thrusting rather than cutting, often with an elaborate hilt
and bar or cup to protect the hand. The weapon was popular
in the 16th and 17th centuries.
A speciality glass used for drinking ratafia, an almond and
fruit liqueur popular from the mid to late 18thC. It is
flute shaped and sometimes known as a flute cordial.
A mark on postage stamps indicating the rate of postage to
be recovered from the recipient; a device used before the
introduction of the fixed rate penny postage in 1840.
See cane work.
(1618-81) British glass-maker who in 1673 was employed by
the London Glass-Sellers' Company to produce a 'home-grown'
rival to Venetian cristallo. Initially his new flint glass
was subject to grizzling, but by 1676 he claimed he had
overcome this, and was allowed to impress his products with
his own seal in the shape of a raven's head. Although the
problem was far from resolved - all known sealed pieces have
since deteriorated - and Ravenscroft is no longer credited
with the invention of lead crystal, he did produce some of
the finest vessel-glass of the time.
(1903-42) English engraver, ceramics decorator and designer
of glassware and furniture. His best-known designs were for
wedgwood pottery, 1936-9.
Chair fitted with a small, adjustable surface on which to
rest a book. The bookrest on 18thC examples was attached to
the top rail on the back of the chair, and the occupant sat
astride the seat, facing backwards. Mid-19thC reading chairs
had swivel bookrests and candle brackets fitted to the arms.
There are also small tables with adaptations for reading,
such as a hinged top that can be angled. A late Victorian
version has revolving book trays on a supporting pillar.
Red anchor period
(1752-8). The porcelain became a more consistent
creamy-white. Although Meissen themes such as commedia
dell'arte figures are apparent, the factory developed its
own distinctive style and reached its peak in artistic
design. Botanical painting and tureens modelled in the form
of birds were outstanding features.
Unglazed fine stoneware made by adding ground burnt flint to
the clay paste for extra hardness. It was produced in the
17thC in yixing, China, and in the early 18thC by B?ttger of
meissen in experiments to make porcelain. It was widely used
in Staffordshire potteries during the 18thC for vases,
teapots and ornaments. Decoration included sprigging in
white or black slip. A later refinement was wedgwood's rosso
antico in the 1760s.
The converse of fluting - a relief decoration of parallel,
convex ribs, or reeds. See decorative motifs.
The modern term for the predominant table design of the 15th
to 17th centuries. Also known as joined or long tables, they
are usually of oak and the top is joined to a fixed frame.
Sturdy legs at the corners are linked by stretchers which
doubled as footrests to avoid contact with cold stone
floors. Refectory tables were common kitchen and farmhouse
furniture until the 19thC.
19thC rings and brooches set with gemstones whose initial
letter spells out a word. For example ?regard?-Ruby,
Emerald, Garnet, Amethyst, Ruby, Diamond. This acrostic
theme was also used for personalised jewellery in which the
wearer's name was spelt out.
French style covering the regency of Philippe d'Orleans
(1715-23), although evident c. 1710-30 - the beginnings of
the early georgian period in Britain. It was lighter and
less formal than the preceding Louis XIV style, and marked
the beginnings of Rococo taste in France.
General term for several furniture and decorative styles
found in Britain c. 1800-30. It was named after the Prince
Regent (later George IV), who ruled for his father 1811-20,
although it was established before and continued for a
decade or so after this period.
A weight-driven pendulum clock with the emphasis on accuracy
of timekeeping rather than on ornament. Regulators are
usually in the form of a longcase clock, with a temperature
compensation facility for the pendulum, a deadbeat
escapement, and no striking mechanism. Workshop regulators
were made by the clock-maker for his own use, to set other
clocks by. Table regulators are spring-driven with a
deadbeat escapement and a regulator dial - one with minutes
marked on the edge of the main dial and two smaller,
separate dials for hours and seconds. See vienna regulator
Marks in seal or script form on Chinese porcelain, giving
the name of the emperor and usually the dynasty. Gradually,
it became commonplace to mark a piece not with the current
ruler's name, but with an earlier emperor's nien hao, or
mark. This was sometimes out of respect to a previous
period, sometimes to avoid punishment for the prohibited use
of the reigning monarch's name on wares not intended for his
own use. As a result, 'imitations' far outnumber genuine
Decoration that projects out from the surrounding surface.
The terms bas, medium and high relief refer to the depth of
Any driving force, such as a weight or spring, in a clock or
watch that is automatically rewound at regular intervals by
the mainspring of the movement. This rewinding facility
results in a more regular driving force than could be
provided by the mainspring itself; it has a similar function
to the fusee but is more effective. A remontoire or constant
force escapement incorporates a remontoire device to ensure
constant force between the escape wheel and the balance.
Revival of Classical ideals in European art and literature
from the late 14th to early 17th centuries.
See drum table.
Craftsman responsible for joining the separately cast or
moulded parts of a ceramics figure into a complete piece.
A clock or watch with a striking mechanism activated at
will, which tells the user the time without his actually
having to look at the timepiece. Repeating devices were
introduced by British clock-makers in the 168os and are
still being made today. The mechanism is activated by a cord
or lever to sound (or 'repeat') the last hour, quarter hour
and subsequent minutes, and more rarely the last five
A form of chasing on silver and other metals to provide
intricate patterns and to sharpen detail. The technique
involves first embossing (pushing out) the general shapes
from the reverse of the piece to create a three-dimensional
effect on the outer surface. The repouss? (pushed back)
element comes in when the finer decorative details are added
by selective pushing back of these raised surfaces from the
front. The article is laid on - or if hollow, filled with-a
firm yet yielding base of pitch and the design pounced or
hammered in, using a wide variety of punches and other
specialist tools to give different effects. Repouss? was
used widely on late 16thand 17thC silver, and revived in the
19thC in Britain and elsewhere in Europe.
An honest re-creation of an earlier object, as opposed to a
1 An area on a piece of pottery or porcelain that is left
free of - or 'reserved' from - ground colour ready for a
painted decoration in enamel colours. The slight ridge where
the ground ends might be concealed by a painted line, which
also frames the design. The term also refers to an area on
textiles that is left free of colour or pattern (see batik)
. 2 Minimum price a seller at auction is prepared to accept.
Metallic decoration, often in silver, applied to glazed
pearlware (see creamware) and other ceramics in Britain from
c. 1810-30. The design is painted or stencilled in wax, or
some other material resistant to the lustre, and then fired.
An adaptation of the French empire style from the time of
the post-Revolution restoration to the throne of the French
monarchy, 1815-30. Decorative wares became more brightly
coloured and bois clair furniture, made of light-coloured
woods (also known as style duchesse de Berry), was
Furniture style linked with Charles IIs reign, from the time
of his restoration to the British throne (1660) until his
death in 1685, or sometimes to the end of the l7thC.
Pierced, interlaced or interwoven to form a net or web-like
pattern. In glassware this is achieved by: engraving or
cutting; by the latticing technique; undercutting an
openwork net (see cage-work) ; pincering strands of glass to
form a basket-weave effect; or by covering glass with, or
blowing it into, a wire netting (netted glassware). In
ceramics and silver, see pierced decoration.
See mirror painting.
Firearm with a turning cylinder that holds several
cartridges. Although some examples were produced earlier,
the weapon only became common from the mid-19thC.
Chair with a swivel seat. Revolving chairs existed as early
as the 16thC, and adjustable-height music stools were
introduced in the late 18thC. A revolving comb-back windsor
chair was developed in the 1770s, and in the mid- 19thC in
the USA a successful prototype with an adjustable back set
the pattern for the next century. British versions were at
first designed principally for invalids, but by the end of
the 19thC had become desirable office furniture.
1A colourless quartz much used by 19thC jewellers. 2 Term
often used c. 1900 for multicoloured glass stones. 3 Modern
term for any coloured glass paste.
A hard, durable silvery-white metallic element which is used
to form high-temperature alloys with platinum or plated onto
other metals. Many Victorian silver or gold brooches have
been 'modernised' -and ruined - by rhodium plating to make
them look like platinum.
Decoration used on Oriental porcelain from the 12thC, but
particularly found in 18thC and modem Chinese wares. The
effect of see-through 'grains' is created by making holes in
the body of the pot before glazing and firing. Sometimes
grains of rice were pressed into the vessel walls. On
firing, these burned off, and the glaze flooded the holes.
Glass-makers based at Wordsley near stourbridge 1829-1930.
By the 1840s, the firm was an important producer of cased,
transfer-printed, and cut glass and in the 1860s pioneered
new engraving machines for complex patterns. They were one
of the first firms to produce cameo glass successfully in
the 1870s. The firm was finally taken over by thomas webb &
sons in 1930.
(1759-1813) English potter who worked at swansea and leeds
potteries before establishing a factory at Hanley,
Staffordshire, in 1794 with his brother George (c.
1758-1823). The factory relocated to Shelton in 1802 and
produced stone china and porcelain. His sons, John
(1785-1860) and William (1788-1864), continued running the
factory upon his death and produced bone china tableware,
garden statuary and blue and white ware.
(b. 1902) Austrian-born art potter who moved to Britain in
1939 and was influenced by Bernard leach. Rie's elegant and
functional stoneware and porcelain, often conical or
trumpet-shaped in form, are covered in either a very plain
glaze, or in a bubbly thick glaze of almost volcanic
appearance, heightened by the use of iron oxides. The thick
glazes are not unlike those of Hans coper, with whom she
shared a studio for many years.
(1734-1806) Among the best known and most versatile of all
French furniture-makers. German-born Riesener was appointed
?b?niste to Louis XVI in 1774. He used gilt-bronze mounts
and marquetry extensively as decoration. Riesener continued
working through the French Revolution, removing all royal
emblems from pieces of furniture, until 1801.
(1888-1964) Dutch architect-designer, the son of a joiner,
who abandoned traditional methods of joinery in his
furniture designs. His furniture is characteristic of the de
stijl group, the Dutch artists' association which he joined
in 1919, resulting in pieces that are starkly geometric in
line, rather like abstract sculptures. Natural wood surfaces
are invariably painted in primary colours, the construction
is deliberately left exposed, and sections are screwed
together rather than joined. Following the worldwide
economic depression of the 1930s, Rietveld designed
inexpensive furniture typified by his crate chair, using
simply cut sections of packing-case wood.
A firearm developed from the 15thC with a barrel which has
spiral grooves cut into the bore - the rifling. This causes
the bullet to spin, resulting in greater stability of flight
Chair resting on curved runners (known as bends) connected
to the front and back feet. Rocking chairs were introduced
in the USA and Britain in the 1760s, but it was the
Americans, whose attitudes and tastes were more relaxed than
those of the Georgians and Victorians, who led rocking-chair
fashions over the next century.
A Yorkshire pottery and porcelain factory on the estate of
the Marquis of Rockingham, 1745-1842. It produced
earthenware similar to that at leeds and some with a
treacle-like glaze, including the lidless cadogan teapot.
From 1826, Rockingham made fine-quality bone china tea and
dessert services, vases, and well-modelled animals and
figures. During the 1830s, extravagant floral decoration
appeared particularly on ornamental ware.
European decorative style, a development of baroque, in the
1730s. Rococo is characterised by curving, asymmetrical
motifs based on rock, shell, floral, leaf and other natural
shapes. Chinese and Indian motifs are also common. Delicate
carving emphasises the curving lines of furniture, and
frames are swirling and elegant. The name 'Rococo' is
derived from the French words rocaille (rockwork) and
coquillage (shellwork). The style reached its peak in
Britain c. 1740s and 50s, and was revived again in Britain
and the USA in the early to mid-19thC.
Thin stick of glass of a single colour. It is made by
rolling a small gather of molten glass on a marver and then
stretching it to the desired thinness. Rods may be moulded
to give different shapes in cross-section (stars, hexagons,
etc) but they are generally used in cylindrical form. Rods
may be arranged in a pattern and fused together to make
canes, cross-sections of which are used in millefiori and
(1743-1807) German furniture-maker of the 18thC who
specialised in sumptuous pieces, the earliest decorated with
pictorial marquetry. He also used many mechanical devices in
his furniture, such as built-in clocks and concealed
drawers. Roentgen supplied furniture to both the French and
Russian royal families, but was ruined by the French
Revolution of 1789-99.
Watch company founded in London in 1905 by Swiss watchmaker
Hans Wilsdorf (c.1881-1960). The company moved to Geneva in
1920. Rolex launched the 'Oyster' range of watches in 1926,
and the 'Prince' range in the 1930s.
A form of gold plating in which very thin sheets of gold -
of any carat value - are fused at a high temperature to a
base metal such as copper and then rolled to form a sheet of
the required thickness, maintaining a uniform layer of gold
throughout. Rolled-gold wire is made by enclosing a
base-metal core within a rolled-gold tube and drawing out to
the required degree of fineness. The process was introduced
in the early 19thC, and applied to ?tuis and inexpensive
rolled paper work
A late 18th and early 19th-century decorative technique
which used tightly rolled strips of paper or card glued onto
boxes, tea caddies and other small objects to form patterns.
(fl. 1697-1721) London-based huguenot silversmith who
produced very large, ornate silverware incorporating much
cut-card work, gadrooning and cast figurative decoration
from 1705. He was commissioned by British royalty, and made
pieces for the general market.
A German wide-bowled, green-tinted drinking glass with a
thick hollow stem often decorated with prunts, atop a coiled
foot. It was developed in the late 15th to early 16th
centuries, but reached the height of its popularity from the
late 17thC to c. 1825 and was widely copied throughout
Europe. It was the glass from which the British rummer
See jewel cutting.
German manufacturer of porcelain tablewares, founded 1879
and still one of Germany's largest porcelain producers.
Heavy, durable tropical hardwood, very dark brown with a
rippled grain of near-black running through. The name comes
from the fragrance released when the wood is cut. Rosewood
was used for inlaid decoration in the 17thC, and as a veneer
from the 18thC, but usually for small panels and for
decorative banding. It was little used for the main body of
a piece of furniture until the early 19thC. A related
species first imported to Britain from Brazil in the late
17thC is kingwood or prince wood. It is rich deep brown but
with purplish tones that give it the alternative name of
violet wood. Kingwood was used as a veneer, for parquetry
and cross-banding, and was particularly popular in France.
See tulip wood.
1 A type of red marble. 2 Red stoneware made from c. 1770 at
the wedgwood factory.
One of the first French centres, during the 16thC, for the
production of tin-glazed earthenware in the Italian maiolica
tradition. This evolved into French faience, for which Rouen
was the most influential centre by the close of the 17thC.
Distinctive decorative styles were developed, including the
formal, embroidery-like lambrequin (see decorative motifs)
borders and style rayonnant. Tableware, ewers and other
vessels at this time reflect the shapes found in silverware;
they are blue and white, but the occasional touch of red was
also used during the early 18thC. By the 1720s, the full
range of high temperature colours was used for Chinese-style
designs in famille-verte colours, and from 1740 Rococo-style
garlands and shells framing pastoral scenes were dominant.
Enamel colours were introduced in the 1770s in a bid to
imitate porcelain decoration, but by the end of the century
the industry was in decline due to competition from English
Bohemian porcelain factory founded 1860 in Dux (now Duchov,)
noted for its jugendstil decorative ware, much of which was
exported to the USA. Typical of Dux ware are figures of
water nymphs on shells, Amphora ware - vases often with
handles in the form of sinuous female figures-busts, wall
plaques and tiles. 1860
Pottery and porcelain factory founded 1883 near The Hague,
Holland. The most notable early products are a kind of
updated DELFT-style - blue and white ware with abstract
decoration. The introduction of a fine eggshell earthenware
in 1889 set the Rozenburg factory apart from its
contemporaries. Shapes of Rozenburg pieces are distinctive
too, with attenuated AMPHORA-like vases and clean, simple
lines moving from curved to flat planes. Decoration was
inspired by Javanese batik designs; it included flowers,
birds and foliage and was executed in fresh overglaze
Glass containing copper oxide, or occasionally gold oxide,
to give a rich, brilliant red colour, much used for
decorative vases and jugs. The technique for its manufacture
was invented in the 17thC and is still used today.
In Britain and other parts of Europe, a piece of carpet that
is small enough to hang on a wall, or that measures up to 6
ft (1.8 m) long; anything larger than this is classified as
a carpet. In practice the terms are almost interchangeable.
(1879-1933) French cabinet-maker and interior decorator of
the art deco era, who also designed porcelain, fabrics and
wallpapers. His pre-1925 furniture was based on neoclassical
forms. Later work was influenced by cubist art, and in the
1930s featured tubular steel and plastics.
Large-bowled, shortish-stemmed drinking glass for long
drinks such as beer and cider.
(1743-1827) Founder of Rundell, Bridge & Rundell, the most
successful English firm of silver and goldsmiths in the
first half of the 19thC. The firm became goldsmiths to King
George III and produced a wide range of silverware for the
A term for long, narrow Oriental carpets made for export to
the West from the 19thC. Those made in Persia (Iran) are
known as kenares.
Art pottery founded 1898 by William Howson Taylor
(1876-1935) at Smethwick, near Birmingham. The pottery
specialised in making Chinese-style vases decorated with
flamb?, mottled or monochrome glazes. Taylor also
experimented with high-temperature and lustre glazes to
achieve a variety of colours, textures and patterns across a
wide range of products including useful wares, candlesticks,
hatpins, buttons and cufflinks. The pottery remained active
Russell, Sir Gordon
(1892-1980) Influential 20thC furniture designer and
manufacturer linked with the British modern movement. His
Russell Workshops in Broadway, Worcestershire, produced both
his own machine-made furniture based on traditional English
designs (such as ladder-back rush-seated chairs) in yew and
oak, and designs by other designers such as Alvar aalto and
the thonet brothers.
Leather treated with an oil distilled from birch bark to
make it particularly hard-wearing. It was used for
upholstery in the late 17thC and throughout the 18thC in
Britain and the USA.
urniture, particularly chairs, with framework or parts in
the form of tree branches popular in the mid-18thC. Actual
branches - of yew or fruitwood, for example - were cut and
stripped of bark to form table or chair legs, or the texture
and form of branches was imitated in elaborate carving. In
the 19thC, versions were made in cast iron, stone ware and
terracotta, as well as wood. The term also refers to
furniture made by amateurs for use in farmhouses and farm
Return to Home Page