Antiques Glossary - S
Author: Jim CoyleSaarinen, Eero
(1910-61) Finnish-born US architect and designer. Saarinen
worked with fellow architect Charles eames and explored the
use of plastics in furniture, producing the first moulded
plastic chairs. His Tulip chairs and tables of 1957 used
moulded glass fibre with aluminium supports in the base for
(1878-1961) French glass-maker of the art deco period,
especially 1923-39. Sabino's work imitated many of the
glassblowing techniques and decorative motifs of his
contemporary Ren? lalique.
Curved 18th-19thC cavalry sword with a single cutting edge,
designed for slashing.
Early 19th-century curved chair leg which resembles the line
of a sabre blade, most closely identified with the regency
period. From 1815 a sabre leg was sometimes referred to as a
Waterloo leg after the Battle of Waterloo.
A decorated flat pouch suspended from the belt of cavalry
officers and worn until the early 20thC.
Solid wooden seat with two slight depressions separated by a
central ridge, commonly seen on Windsor chairs. It is also a
term for a wide, U-shaped seat.
Three-legged, solid wood stool with saddle-shaped seat.
The name given to Oriental rugs with designs of multiple
prayer niches, or mihrabs. Examples, often fragmentary, are
known from the 16thC. The mihrabs on many safs are small and
close together suggesting they were not used as prayer rugs
but as decorative wall-hangings.
A fireclay vessel used to hold and protect objects during
General term for any container used for table salt, ranging
from the large, ceremonial standing salt of the 14th to 16th
centuries to the more common salt cellar (a shallow, open
bowl) and salt caster (similarly shaped to a sugar caster
but smaller). Salt cellars are often gilded or have a glass
liner to prevent corrosion by damp salt. A trencher salt,
most popular 1640-1750, has no feet and rests flat on the
stoneware with a thin, clear glaze with a slightly pitted
texture, produced by throwing salt into the kiln during
firing. There are two basic types. Salt-glazed coarse
stoneware was developed along the Rhine at Westerwald,
Germany, for bottles (see bellarmine) and tankards, and
adapted by British potters such as John dwight of Fulham in
the late 17thC. Although the clay is grey, a wash of iron
oxide matures it to a brown surface colour, hence its
alternative name of brown stoneware. Tigerware is a mottled
version. Salt-glazed fine white stoneware, incorporating a
finer-grained white clay, was introduced in staffordshire
potteries c. 1720 as a substitute for Chinese porcelain. It
is typically decorated with stamped or sprigged motifs,
sometimes with incised or moulded patterns, and from c. 1745
with more intricate decoration, sometimes painted in
enamels. It was superseded by creamware
Plate or tray, usually of silver or silver-gilt, used for
the formal offering of food, drink, letters or visiting
cards. Large, heavy, oblong or oval silver salvers evolved
into what we know as trays in the 18thC. Small, flat salvers
are known as waiters. Glass salvers, popular in Britain from
the 18thC, usually have a central stem like a tazza.
An officer's belt designed to support a holster and sword.
It has crossed belts and was named after General Sir Samuel
Browne, VC, a one-armed British officer who is said to have
An embroidered panel of fabric sewn as a reference for, or
as a demonstration of, a range of different stitches. By the
18thC most samplers were sewn by children, following
patterns out of books. They typically incorporate letters,
numbers, a short poem or motto, the name and age of the
child and the date.
(1837-1913) Founder of one of France's best-known 19thC
reproduction porcelain and earthenware factories, 1845. The
firm initially specialised in providing replacements for
18thC s?vres, meissen, chelsea and derby figures and Chinese
services. Gradually copies of wares from all the well-known
European factories were produced. Such pieces usually
carried Samson's own mark based on the appropriate original,
but this was often removed by people wishing to pass on the
pieces as genuine.
Chinese term meaning 'three colour', used to describe an
effect created on ceramics by using three mineral colours in
a glaze, usually yellow, green and brown (sometimes dubbed
Instrument for measuring time, consisting of two bulbous
glass chambers connected by a narrow channel. The whole is
often mounted within a wooden frame for stability. Upending
the device allows a quantity of sand to trickle from one
chamber to the other taking an exact period of time, usually
one hour. Sand glasses, which preceded clocks and watches,
were manufactured from the 16thC, but they were not made in
Britain until c. 1610.
Process used for creating matt surface finishes on glass,
invented in the USA in 1870. A design area is masked off and
the object is subjected to a high-pressure jet of sand or
powdered iron to leave the exposed area with a rough,
Technique of shaping glass or metal objects where the design
to be cast is formed in a mould containing fine casting sand
and other ingredients.
French for 'ox blood', used to describe a startling plum-red
ceramics glaze. In areas where the glaze lies thickly on the
ceramic body, such as near the base of a vase, it forms dark
patches like coagulated ox blood. The effect is achieved by
firing a copper glaze in a reducing atmosphere (one rich in
carbon monoxide) and was developed in the late 17th and 18th
centuries in China simultaneously with flamb? glazes.
European potters imitated the technique in the 19thC.
Newly formed, soft whitish wood of a tree between the outer
skin of bark and the central core of heartwood, also known
Cloth made of silk threads or other material, made shiny by
being passed through heavy rollers. Satin is used for
dresses, coats, curtains and sometimes upholstery. The
reverse, duller side of the fabric is known as sateen. Where
satin and sateen are combined to form a pattern, the fabric
is known as a damask. Satinet is an imitation satin mixed
with cotton or rayon, usually used for dress fabrics.
Smooth, fine-grained yellowish wood, popular for furniture
from the late 18thC. West Indian satinwood became
fashionable c. 1770, and the paler East Indian variety in
the early 19thC. Both were used for veneers, decorative
panelling, and inlaid decoration. In addition, the pale
colour made satinwood an ideal surface for painted
decoration. See also harewood.
See tea ceremony.
Western name for type of Japanese earthenware exported
throughout and since the meiji period (1868-1912). It is
named after the Satsuma provinces, but was made in many
parts of Japan, notably in kyoto. Satsuma ware is a
fine-grained, cream-coloured pottery covered in a clear to
yellowy glaze usually with a very fine crackle. The
decoration, sometimes done at a second workshop, varies from
mass-produced broad designs to exquisite miniature scenes
finely enamelled and gilded. Japanese sources suggest the
Satsuma tradition dates from the 17thC, but firm
identification of any pieces earlier than the 19thC is
difficult. Some of the finest pieces were made c. 1900.
Parisian carpet workshop established 1627 in a former soap
factory - the name comes from the French savon (soap).
Oriental carpet-making techniques were employed with
Turkish-knotted wool or silk (see carpet knots). The factory
made large carpets with Classical motifs, landscapes and
mythological subjects, and their patterns were widely copied
throughout Europe ('savonnerie' generally refers to all
European carpets of similar design). Lighter, rococo-style
floral designs were used from the early 18thC. The
Savonnerie factory closed in 1825 and the business
transferred to the nearby gobelins premises
Mock marble or imitation pietra dura made from plaster of
Paris or clear crystals of gypsum (selenite), various
pigments and chips of marble. It was produced in ancient
Rome but revived in 16thC Italy, and imported to Britain for
interior architectural features such as columns and wall
panels in the 18thC. Scagliola was also used for the tops of
tables and commodes, and increasingly, from the 1790s, when
Britain produced its own, for dwarf columns and pedestals.
See decorative motifs.
A 17thC medical instrument, consisting of a number of blades
released by a sprung trigger, which was used for letting
blood. The blades made several incisions on the skin at
once, and from c. 1800 were also used for preparing the skin
Form of German glass and ceramics decoration in black, late
17th and early 18th centuries. The landscapes, figures and
flowers are often fleshed out with iron-red and sometimes
Scotland has been involved in glass-making since the early
17thC. The first glassworks was founded at Wemyss, near
Glasgow, in 1610, but the industry became centred in Leith,
Edinburgh, from 1628. At first only green bottles were
produced; in fact, from c. 1664 it was illegal for the Scots
to buy bottles from anywhere else. But by the end of the
century Leith wares included drinking glasses and novelties
known as friggers. Other centres of glass-making were
established at alloa, Prestonpans and Perth. Since the 186os
Edinburgh has become well known for its fine lead crystal.
A sgraffito technique on white salt-glazed stoneware with
the decoration incised into the surface and filled with blue
(or brown) pigment prior to firing. The technique was
produced mainly by staffordshire potteries c. 1724-76 and
revived in the late 19thC by artists such as Hannah Barlow
Simple decoration on 16thand 17thC furniture. Designs
consist of single lines carved into the surf ace of the
Metal screws with tapering, threaded bodies and slotted
heads were first used during the early decades of the 18thC.
Early threading was hand-filed; lathe-turned screws date
from the second half of the 18thC, and sharp-pointed,
machine-made screws from the mid-19thC.
Small carvings in horn, bone, whale tooth, walrus tusk,
ivory, shells or wood, engraved using a knife and needle,
made by sailors on long voyages. Scrimshaw work dates from
Engraved stamp for impressing a design or monogram onto
sealing wax or for printing it on paper. Used since ancient
times, ornamental seals returned to fashion in the 16thC
when they were worn by men on a neck chain or chatelaine, in
the 17thC on watch chains, and during the early 18thC
Regency period suspended from small fobs at the waist. Small
seals are also found set into finger rings, and at the other
end of the scale set in large, sculpted mounts with heavily
ornamented handles. Various materials were used for the seal
matrix and its setting, including various gemstones. Glass
seals, mounted in gold, silver, brass or steel, were popular
from c.1740. A seal box is a small, usually round, silver or
gold container similar to a snuffbox, and used to hold the
official seal for important documents. They are often
engraved on the lid with the crest of a city or institution
such as a university. Prominent citizens given the freedom
of a city were often presented with a seal box known as a
Flowing marquetry style popular on william & mary furniture
from the 17th and early 18th centuries. The effect was
achieved by setting a light wood such as holly or box
against a contrasting dark walnut ground in seaweed-like
Chest of drawers with a desk area concealed behind a false
drawer-front. Instead of the angled fold-down bureau, the
top 'drawer' pulls out and the front drops down to form a
writing surface and reveals recessed pigeonhole compartments
and small drawers behind. Secretaires were introduced during
the late 17th to early 18th centuries.
Portable enclosed chair for one person, used by the upper
classes in Britain and France during the 16th, 17th and 18th
centuries. The chair was fixed on poles on either side and
carried by two men. A person could be carried from one house
to another without setting foot outside. When not in use,
sedans were kept in the entrance hall of large houses.
Small, portable, early 19thC timepiece, sometimes used in a
sedan chair. It has a brass-bound, rectangular or circular,
turned mahogany or toleware case with an enamel watch dial.
Sedan clocks provided one way of recycling 18thC watch
movements which were too thick for the slim-cased pocket
watches then in vogue.
(1727-1801) Cabinet-maker and founder of one of the
best-known firms of British furniture-makers which was a
rival of the Lancaster-based gillows. It employed hundreds
of craftsmen during its heyday in the 1780s.
Teapot whose lid is a cylinder with a vent-hole in the
finial. When the lid is raised to its full height, the vent
is stopped with the finger so that when pushed down the
cylinder displaces the liquid through a downward-pointing
spout. In the USA self-pouring teapots are known as pump
pots. The pots were made during the later 19thC in pottery,
britannia metal and electroplated silver
French boxes, cupboards and chests of drawers with seven
compartments, one for each day of the week. The nearest
British equivalent was the wellington chest, made in the
Term used to refer to all gemstones except precious stones.
Gemologists and jewellers consider the description too
general and refer to stones by individual names. The term
does not apply to synthetic gemstones, glass and paste or to
organic substances used in jewellery, such as amber, coral,
jet and tortoiseshell.
See carpet knots.
1 Descriptive term for an undulating profile, especially in
furniture. Serpentine fronts, with a convex curve in the
centre flanked by slightly concave sides, were seen on
rococo chests of drawers, cabinets and sideboards in the
18thC. From the late 17thC, some chairs had curving
serpentine stretchers. 2 Mineral which ranges in colour from
various shades of brown to shades of green, and is often
mottled in appearance. The green varieties are the most
valuable and sometimes resemble nephrite jade. Serpentine is
used for carving cameos and intaglios as well as in
architecture as a decorative stone. Bowenite is a harder
variety of serpentine and cream, grey or pale green in
colour. 3 See matchlock.
Japanese ceramics centre, in production from the 9thC. It is
best known for its 19thC vases and useful wares decorated
with paintings of birds, fish and landscapes, mostly in
Upholstered seat with back and arms for two or more.
Long wooden bench with arms and a panelled back which was
designed to seat two or more people. A high-backed settle -
sometimes with storage space beneath the seat or a cupboard
in the back - was a familiar sight on either side of the
hearth in farmhouse kitchens and inns from the 16th to 19th
centuries. A settle table is a wooden settle with a hinged
back that folds over to rest on the arms and form a table.
French national porcelain factory and a leading influence on
European ceramics fashions c. 1760-1815. Soft-paste
porcelain was manufactured exclusively from c. 1740 until
the discovery of local china clay deposits enabled true
porcelain to be produced from 1768. From the 1750s, S?vres
acquired and maintained its lead in French ceramics, largely
due to royal patronage. Louis XV granted the factory a
monopoly to produce porcelain in the meissen style, 1745-66,
and even after this was relaxed, no other French company was
allowed to produce porcelain with coloured ground or
gilding. In the 1750s the factory introduced striking enamel
grounds of rich, dark royal blue, pea-green, sky-blue (bleu
celeste), rose-pink and yellow, enriched with gold and
enclosing panels or medallions of superbly painted
landscapes, figures or flowers. Figures were also
successful, mostly left white, but above all, from the
1750s, figures and groups in unglazed biscuit porcelain.
From the swirling effects of rococo style, forms moved
towards the more restrained neoclassical style in the 1770s.
The toughness of true porcelain meant that a broader palette
of high-temperature colours could be used; gilding was
applied even more freely at this time, and jewelled
decoration was introduced. With the French Revolution,
S?vres lost the benefits of its royal patronage, but by 1800
revived with the backing of Napoleon - huge urns, vases,
plaques and dinner services were made for him. This was
empire style - much copied by many other factories. New
ranges were introduced in the art nouveau and art deco
See work table.
Navigational instrument using mirror reflections to measure
the sun's altitude, developed from the octant in 1757 by
Captain John Campbell. It was not in common use until the
mid- 19thC and was made until modern times when periscopic
types were used on aircraft.
Technique of creating a design on a pottery surface by
scratching or scoring through an unfired slip coating to
expose the darker body beneath. In 16thC sgraffito ware from
the Bologna area of Italy, for example, designs were incised
in the white slip coating to reveal a red clay ground. The
technique has been much used throughout Europe since
medieval times, particularly on country pottery from
south-west Britain - it was a feature of Barnstaple pottery
throughout the 18th and 19th centuries - and was often
inscribed to commemorate special events such as harvests and
christenings. See scratch blue
1 Highly polished skin of sharks and sting rays, used from
the 17thC for covering knife cases, hip flasks and other
small items. 2 Untanned leather, originally made in Persia
(Iran), with a coarse, granular finish and usually dyed
Furniture made by the Shakers, a puritanical community in
the USA founded by emigrants from Britain in 1774. The
Shaker men made articles notable for their simplicity of
construction and appearance, economy of design and material,
yet high quality of craftsmanship. The styles remained
unchanged until the late 19thC when output and quality
declined as the communities decreased in number.
A style of military headdress. The name is used for a
variety of caps, the most common feature being a tall,
cylindrical crown and a small peak. British soldiers wore
shakos for much of the 19thC.
A sabre originating in India and Persia (Iran), with a long,
slender curved blade designed for making slashing cuts. A
common type of shamshir has a mameluke hilt, with a
crossguard terminating in acorn-like finials and a pommel
curving over at right angles to the grip.
Thin layer of silver fused to a sheet of copper. Also known
as 'Old Sheffield' and fused plate, the process effusing the
precious and base metals together by heating and rolling was
invented by Thomas Bolsover in Sheffield in the 1740s. In
the 1760s, the introduction of double-plating (which coated
both sides of the copper sheet) made Sheffield plate a more
convincing, lower cost alternative to objects made of solid
sterling silver. Wire made by a similar process widened the
scope of design to include openwork and wire work articles.
The difficulty of concealing the copper at the edges, and of
the proneness of the silver coating to wear, to some extent
limited the range of products to luxury hollow-ware salvers,
cruets, bread or cake baskets. Sometimes, part of an
article, such as the stand of a tureen, would be made in
Sheffield plate, the main body in sterling silver. The
introduction of electroplating from 1840 made Sheffield
plate obsolete by 1880. Sheffield plate is usually unmarked
except for the maker's name in some cases.
A type of cheap clock developed in the USA in the 19thC
which is slim enough to stand on a narrow shelf. The clocks
are often in a plain rectangular case, with a glass door. A
variation, produced in bulk 1822-1914 and exported to
Britain, is the ogee (or OG) clock, made in various sizes,
with curved ogee-shaped moulding on the frame.
English term for sakura-ningyo -Japanese dolls designed as
ornaments for a shelf. They are based on legendary Japanese
heroes and heroines and have been exported to the West from
1 Varnish made from the secretions of a scale insect on
trees in India and the Middle East. It was used by European
craftsmen to imitate Oriental lacquer. Shellac, dissolved in
alcohol, is also used in french polishing on furniture. 2
Early form of plastic, invented 1868 and used to make
gramophone records and moulded ornaments.
See foley china works.
(1751-1806) British cabinet-maker whose Cabinet-Maker's and
Upholsterer's Drawing Book encapsulated the elegant,
neoclassical furniture style named after him.
A British coin of ancient origin, but since its revival in
1550, a silver piece with a face value of 12 old pence, and
after decimalisation replaced by the 5p piece. Shilling is
abbreviated to ?s?.
See dog of fo.
1 Glass container 1-3 in (25-76 mm) tall that was filled
with lead shot in which to clean and support quill pens. 2 A
US term for a small tumbler for a single measure - or 'shot'
- of whiskey.
Simple chair without arms, also known as a single, upright
or small chair.
General term for any easily movable table designed to stand
against a wall, or in a dining room as an additional table
for food, plates and dishes, and sometimes referred to as a
Dining-room furniture piece, developed, as it is known
today, in the last quarter of the 18thC. Sideboards were
designed for the storage and display of tableware and for
serving food, and usually have a central drawer flanked by
cupboards or drawers.
See mean time.
See angle barometer.
Outline of a figure, either painted or cut out of paper and
mounted on card, popular from mid- 18thC to c. 1880, and
revived in the 1920s.
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The fine, lustrous, supple fibre produced by certain insect
larvae and spiders, especially the silkworm. Silk cloth was
produced c. 700 bc by the Chinese and remained a closely
guarded secret until the 6thC ad, when it spread to France,
Spain, Italy and Sicily. The main silk production centres
today are southern Europe, Japan, India and northern China.
The best-quality silk is net silk which is very slightly
twisted, and reflects light especially well. The waste from
net silk is spun silk. Silk which has yet to be spun and
woven is raw silk, of which there are a number of varieties
such as floss silk (for fine embroidery), organzine (for the
warp of quality silk fabrics) and tram (for the weft of
quality silk fabrics).
A printing process based on the stencilling principle, in
which a stretched screen of silk or other fine fabric is
coated with ink-resistant substance in the design areas to
be left blank. Coloured ink is forced through the uncoated
areas onto the printing surface. Layers of different colours
can be applied using different stencils.
Precious metal which is lighter and slightly less malleable
than gold, but unlike gold is prone to tarnishing due to
chemical reaction with pollutants in the air. Silver
products are made from an alloy of pure silver and a small
proportion of a base metal such as copper to improve
strength and durability. The proportion of pure silver
varies according to standards set by different countries.
See britannia standard, hallmarks, and sterling standard.
Silver plated with a thin layer of gold.
See tea table.
British glass, also known as silver-deposit glass, produced
c. 1890-1920. A design was painted in a flux, placed in a
silver solution and subjected to an electric current, which
fixed the silver to the painted surface.
Silvery art glass made by enclosing silver foil between two
layers of clear glass. The technique was developed by John
northwood ii, c.1900, and was made at stevens & williams.
1 The silver version of gilding in which a thin film of
silver is applied to a surface using silver leaf. The
technique was introduced in the latter part of the 17thC and
used on elaborately carved cabinet stands and tables. When
lacquered or varnished, the silver takes on a yellowish
tinge, and was sometimes used as a cheap alternative to
gilding. 2 The film of tin foil and mercury, silver or other
reflective material applied to glass in a mirror.
Monkeys dressed up in human clothing, popular as a
decorative theme in the 18thC. It is found in most forms of
art and although it was not much used after 1800, it was
revived in the 19thC after the publication of Darwin's On
the Origin of Species. See affenkapelle.
See side chair.
Barometer that has a J-shaped glass tube containing mercury.
The wheel barometer was developed using a siphon tube.
Gaelic for 'black knife' - a Scottish Highlander's dirk that
was held in the sock against the leg when not in use.
Clock with its workings exposed in an open framework,
usually housed under a glass dome and mounted on a wooden or
marble base. Skeleton clocks were made in France from c.
1750, and became popular in Britain in the Victorian era
from c. 1840.
See lava glass.
See linen smoother.
Liquid clay used as a finish or as a decorating medium on
pottery, or as a medium for casting hollow-ware and
particularly figures. Slip, or engobe, is also used to join
the various parts of an object figure or group of figures
that have been cast in separate moulds. A decorative slip
can either be used as a dip or poured over an article of
pottery to coat it, or made into a stiffer mixture and piped
or slip-trailed (also known as tube-lining) on the surface
of the body. The process precedes firing. Mixed clays are
used or metal oxides added to achieve different colours and
effects. Pottery decorated with slip is known as slipware.
See also sgraffito. Slip-casting is a forming process in
which the liquid clay is poured into a porous plaster mould
which absorbs much of the moisture, leaving a layer of clay
to harden on the mould walls. Surplus slip is poured out,
the mould removed, and the resulting clay shell fired. A
slip glaze or Albany slip contains a high proportion of clay
and produces a greenish or brownish finish. It was used at
Albany, near New York, and on salt-glazed stoneware from the
Lightweight and elegant, short sword which dates from the
late 17th and 18th centuries.
A blue pigment produced by grinding a coloured glass mixture
containing cobalt oxide to a fine powder. It was used in the
manufacture of bristol blue glass and in powder-blue ground
(c. 1786-1826) regency furniture-maker, upholsterer and
designer. Smith popularised the circular dining table and
the ottoman sofa in Britain and published several books of
his designs. His furniture was much influenced in the early
years by collector and Egyptologist Thomas hope, and Smith
also used gothic and Chinese motifs widely. His later work
became increasingly heavy and over-decorated, a foretaste of
Deep, bright red tropical hardwood with irregular dark
markings resembling those of a snake or hieroglyphic
characters - hence its names - snakewood and letterwood.
Snakewood is difficult to work because of its hardness but
is seen as an inlaid decoration on 17thC furniture and
occasionally in late 18th and early 19thCveneers.
A table with a top that snaps or folds down vertically over
the supporting pillar, as in 18thC tripod tables. See
A form of ignition similar to the flintlock using flint and
Small bottles, 2-6 in (5-15 cm) high, used for holding
snuff. Most were produced in China from the 18thC and were
made from a variety of materials, including glass, ivory,
porcelain, agate and jade. The bottles are usually round or
oval in shape, with a spoon attached to the inside of the
stopper and are often richly carved or enamelled. Glass
bottles sometimes have interior painting. Large numbers of
Chinese snuff bottles were exported to the West from the
Implement used to trim or cut candle wicks.
A form of magnesium silicate, or talc, used in its solid
white, red, greyish or greenish form for carved ornaments,
particularly in China. In the mid-18thC, particularly in
Britain, powdered soapstone, or steatite, was sometimes used
as a binding agent in soft-paste porcelain paste. It
provides good resistance to sudden temperature changes,
improved whiteness and plasticity.
Glass made with soda (sodium carbonate) rather than potash
(see bohemia) as the flux agent. The soda was originally
derived from marine plants (see cristallo), but later
produced chemically. In its molten state, soda glass is
easier to manipulate than potash glass, but in its finished
form it is light and fragile, and cannot be cut. In Britain,
soda glass was superseded in the 17thC by lead crystal,
which was stronger and more resonant, but continued to be
made until the early 19thC on the Continent, and is still
used for some Venetian-style glass today.
Any movable seat on which to recline, now virtually
interchangeable with settee. The word is derived from the
Ottoman sopha (the dais on which the Grand Vizier received
A development of the pembroke table although narrower and
longer, made from the late 18th to mid-19th centuries. There
are usually two shallow drawers at the front and normally
flaps at both ends supported by fly brackets. Early examples
have end supports whereas later tables stand on pedestals.
Sofa tables were designed to complement the length, line and
height of a sofa, and were typically used by women for
writing, drawing or reading.
Timber from cone-bearing trees which is generally softer
than hardwood and therefore easier to work. Softwoods
include pine, cedar, spruce and yew.
See frozen charlotte. solid jasper See jasperware. solitaire
Chinese dynasty, sometimes spelt Sung, of great ceramic
development, ad 960-1279. Porcelain was improved and it is
the most likely period of the invention of underglaze blue.
stonewares were given highly sophisticated glazes in a wide
range of colours and the practice of patronage of ceramics
was established. The first Song dynasty wares reached Europe
at the end of the 19thC and became a source of inspiration
for studio potters in France and Britain.
Town in southern Germany famed for doll-making. Early dolls
of turned wood were produced from before 1700; from 1807,
mass-production techniques resulted in the large-scale
manufacture of papier-m?ch? heads. The peak production
period, however, started c.1850, from when Sonneberg dolls
in bisque, composition, wood, wax and china were produced
and exported throughout the world.
A British gold coin first issued by King Henry VII in 1489
and revived in 1817 with a fixed value of ?1 (100p). Gold
sovereigns are still made today, mainly for trading in the
Late 18thC British bottle stand, similar to a cruet, usually
made in silver or sheffield plate.
The corner space between an arch or circle and a rectangle.
Originally an architectural term for the space between one
arch and the next in arcading, it is used in the context of
carpet and textile patterns. On a clock dial, spandrels
refer to the ornamentation in the four corner spaces between
the chapter ring and the dial plate. See box above.
See carpet knots.
See sponged ware.
Zinc alloy, often containing lead, used as a substitute for
bronze. Spelter was much used in the 19thC for cheap, cast
articles such as candlesticks and clock cases. It was
popular as an inexpensive medium for art Nouveau applied
ornament and art deco figures.
Gate-leg table with particularly slender, turned legs, and
with more or less standard dimensions of around 28 in (71
cm) high, with a 36 x 30 in (91 x 76 cm) surface. The tables
were produced both in Britain and the USA during the second
half of the 18thC.
Single or pair of cylindrical vases or a wall-hanging vase,
designed to hold spills or matches for lighting candles and
pipes. Some examples have a rectangular holder for a
matchbox. They were made in porcelain, pottery or brass from
the late 19thC. Spill vases are also known as paper cases,
match vases or match stands.
A slender, turned rod based on the shape of a spinning-wheel
spindle, which is often seen on the upright members or
horizontal stretchers of a chair.
See piano doll.
1 Metalworking technique used since Egyptian times to form
hollow containers from sheet metal by pressing the metal
against a rotating wooden core on a lathe. 2 Technique used
to turn wool, cotton and flax into thread suitable for
weaving using a spinning wheel, first seen in the 14thC.
Spitalfields silk factories
Centre of silk weaving in London from the late 17thC, at its
peak during the 18thC. Many early designs were
French-influenced, brought over by huguenot weavers. In the
early 18thC velvets, damasks and silk brocade were produced
for dressmaking. In the 1770s the industry fell into
irreversible decline when patterned materials went out of
fashion. See also bizarre silk.
Open or conical-topped container made of metal or ceramics
used for spitting into. Some are small for hand-held use,
others are larger and rest on the floor.
The vertical member of a chair back, rising from the seat to
the top rail.
Staffordshire ceramics factory founded by Josiah Spode in
1770. Early production included creamware, pearlware and
blue-printed earthenware. Spode perfected the bone china
formula, and in the 19thC was noted for its regency-style
ornamental ware and useful wares with bat-printed designs
(see transfer-printing). William Copeland became a partner
in 1833, and sole proprietor in 1847, when parian porcelain
figures were introduced. Finely crafted table services and
vases continued to be made into the 20thC.
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Blue and White
Inexpensive pottery with mottled colour effects applied by a
sponge. It was produced and exported in quantity by
Staffordshire potteries in the 1820s, and was popular for
the next three decades. In the USA it is known as
The addition of separately made relief ornamentation onto a
ceramic body, cemented in place with slip. The clays used
for sprigging may be in a contrasting colour to that of the
body, but need to be of similar consistency for the pieces
to adhere successfully during firing. Sprigging was
developed by Thomas whieldon in the early 18thC, then taken
up by other Staffordshire potters, notably on Wedgwood
(c. 1716-71) Flemish-born huguenot silversmith and porcelain
manufacturer who was based in London and specialised in
rococo pieces decorated with human figures, dolphins,
shells, crabs and various other natural motifs. See chelsea.
See balance, barrel, fusee, train.
Light indentations or pimples in a ceramic glaze found on
the base or rim of some plates, dishes and figures. They -
and the similar stilt marks - are made by cones or pegs used
to support the body in the kiln or to prevent stacked wares
from sticking to each other. The marks can aid
identification; they are characteristic, for example, of
chelsea and arita porcelain. See patch marks.
A flat, loose cushion, as opposed to fitted upholstery,
usually tied to the frame of an armchair with corner tapes
and used from the 17thC. Squab stools have a raised rim to
hold a cushion in place.
Ceramics factory near Paris founded in 1664 to produce
faience. Later, in the early 18thC, a separate concern was
established producing cream-coloured soft-paste porcelain
with a thick glaze. The factory's peak period was 1725-50.
Early pieces were moulded after the Chinese style with
prunus boughs or decorated in underglaze blue.
kakiemon-style decoration was characteristic after 1730, and
many pieces were mounted in silver. The factory closed in
St Ives pottery
See leach, Bernard.
French glassworks founded in the Miinzthal, Lorraine, in
1767. At first it imitated English lead crystal, but c. 1839
it began to produce original, fine-quality tablewares,
elegant ornamental wares made of opalescent and other
coloured glass, latticing and paperweights. The factory is
still in operation and has revived the production of
The largest concentration of ceramics factories in Britain
since the 17thC. At the heart of The Potteries are the
so-called 'five towns' (in fact six) of Stoke-on-Trent:
Burslem, Hanley, Stoke, Tunstall, Longton and Fenton. The
availability of a variety of local clays and coal for fuel
provided the essential foundations for the industry to
develop. From the mid-18thC, the early pioneering techniques
and wares of Staffordshire potters such as Thomas whieldon,
John astbury, the elers brothers and, above all Josiah
wedgwood, had a profound influence on European ceramics, and
an expanding international export trade was established.
Almost every stage of British ceramics development can be
traced in the Staffordshire potteries, from slip-ware and
other lead-glazed earthenware to salt-glazed and fine
estoneware, creamware and bone china, embracing both utility
and luxury markets. Linked particularly with Staffordshire
are the many animal and human figures produced in the 19thC.
These were made in moulds by the thousand, often depicting
notorious or famous contemporary figures, sometimes marking
significant events such as coronations, murders, expeditions
or wars. See flatbacks.
Glass coloured with metallic oxides, or by flashing. Since
the 11thC it has been used for making windows, often in
churches. The early technique was to cut the glass into
pieces to fit the design, paint faces and draperies with
black or grey enamel, and then fix the pieces into a lead
framework, hence the term ?leaded light?. By the 16thC
larger panels of glass were being used and the design was
painted on in coloured enamels. Stained glass began to
appear in houses from the 14thC. Medieval styles and
techniques were widely imitated until the late 19th and 20th
centuries, when designers such as Sir Edward Burne-Jones and
William morris in Britain and John La Farge and Louis
tiffany in the USA experimented with new applications and
Strong, corrosion-resistant steel containing chromium and
nickel, invented in Britain 1913. It became a popular
material for cutlery after 1945, when Scandinavian designs
in the material were first seen.
Stake Murray, William
(1881-1962) British engineer, painter and studio potter
whose best work is seen in large, simply decorated vases,
influenced by the Japanese potter Shoji Hamada, and by his
contact with potter Bernard leach.
(1899-1986) Dutch architect and furniture designer who
worked with the bauhaus design school in Germany and created
the first chair using the cantilever principle in 1924.
1 Impressing a design or mark into a ceramic or metal body
with a stamp. See die-stamping. 2 The process of pressing
low-relief ornamentation made separately in an intaglio
mould onto a ceramic body, fixing it with a liquid clay slip
and firing. See also sprigging.
Large, ceremonial drinking vessel, used in Britain and other
parts of Europe from the Middle Ages to the 17thC and later
copied for display. They were made of silver, silver-gilt,
copper-gilt, or pewter, and consisted of a covered bowl
resting on a knopped stem, supported by a spreading foot.
Very elaborate examples incorporated real coconut shells,
sea shells and ostrich eggs.
See butler's tray.
Ancient Greek coinage of gold or silver.
See glasses, drinking.
Chinese drinking vessel with a wide shallow bowl and a stem
widening at the base, also known as a gaozu. Most stem cups
are of porcelain and became popular in the ming period, but
earlier examples exist.
A simple method of decoration in which a design or lettering
cut from card or other material is used as a template for
reproducing a pattern onto a surface placed below. Stencils
were used from the 17th to the 18th centuries to decorate
walls and were popular during the arts and crafts movement
as a furniture decoration.
See jewel cutting.
A 19thC instrument for viewing two drawings or photographs
of the same object, pictured at slightly different angles,
to produce a single, three-dimensional image. It was
invented by British scientist Charles Wheatstone in 1838.
The proportion of pure silver to base metal set for British
sterling silver. From 1300, apart from the period 1697-1720,
when the britannia standard was enforced, the legal standard
has been 92.5 per cent pure silver, the remainder being one
or more base metals such as copper, to lend strength and
workability. See hallmarks.
Leading US glass factory founded by English designer
Frederick carder in 1903. It was taken over by the corning
glassworks in 1918, but continued to produce vast quantities
of art glass. From the mid-1930s the factory specialised in
lead crystal, ornamental wares including commissioned
designs from various artists and sculptors such as Jean
Cocteau, Salvador Dali, Eric Gill and Graham Sutherland.
Trade name for English silk pictures made by Thomas Stevens
of Coventry on a Jacquard loom, 1879-1938. They are
approximately 2? x 6 in (6 x 15 cm) and followed themes such
as horse races, transport and portraits of famous people.
Stevens & Williams
Family firm of glass-makers based at Brierley Hill near
stourbridge, established in the 17thC. In the 19thC, the
firm was one of the top three factories in the Stourbridge
area, alongside richardsons and Thomas webb. Products
included cameo, lead crystal, engraved and many coloured
glasses. In the 20thC, the firm changed its name to 'Royal
Brierley' after receiving a royal warrant in King George V's
reign, and has become known for its commemorative glassware.
The simplest and earliest type of barometer, invented in the
17thC. It consists of a mercury-filled glass tube set within
a long, narrow wall case. The mercury level is read directly
against a simple vertical scale.
(1857-1942) New York furniture designer who made solid,
plain furniture in the style of the arts and crafts
movement, later known as Mission furniture.
See tunbridge ware.
See spur marks. stipple engraving See engraving.
Drinking cup, frequently in the shape of an animal's head,
used for the final drink before setting off on a hunt. The
cups, common from the mid- 18thC, have neither handle nor
foot, and were made in pottery and porcelain, silver and
Elastic, machine-knitted, silk or fine cotton fabric used
1860-80 and 1920-40 as a material for dolls' bodies. It is
also seen, though rarely, stretched over the head of a
papier m?ch? doll.
1A decorative, often elaborately embroidered or jewelled,
triangular panel of material inserted into a bodice on a
woman's dress and worn over the chest and ending in a point
over the stomach. Stomachers were a feature of women's
dresses from the late 15th to late 18th centuries. 2 Large,
triangular brooch worn from the 18thC on the centre of a
woman's dress bodice. Some were made in sections to be worn
as a sequence of two or three brooches. Stomachers, also
known as devant le corsage or corsage brooches, were
especially popular in the Edwardian period.
An extremely hard, white clay body used for heavy-duty table
services, which was developed in the early 1800s at various
Staffordshire potteries. The body is opaque and covered in a
glaze with an often blue-grey tinge, and the design is
painted over a blue, black or puce printed outline. Popular
styles include those derived from Chinese famille-rose
export services or anglicised versions of imari porcelain
patterns. Ironstone china' was a term patented in 1813 by
Charles Mason, possibly in a bid to corner the market and to
mislead competitors. Analysis suggests that the slag iron
purported to be part of its make-up, is not actually
present. While Mason's (later Ashworth's) was the main
producer of 'ironstone', other Staffordshire factories
One of the three fundamental ceramic bodies, the others
being earthenware and porcelain. Stoneware is a very hard,
dense material made from a clay fired to a point at which
the individual grains of clay fuse together, rendering the
finished product impervious to liquid. The manufacture of
stoneware was first introduced to Britain from Germany in
the late 17thC. See red stoneware, and saltglazed stoneware.
The most basic and oldest form of single-person seating,
consisting of a seating platform with no back, and three or
Glass, ceramic or metal piece that fits in the neck of a
bottle or decanter. Stoppers were frequently decorated to
match the container.
(1771-1844) The most eminent English silversmith of the
19thC, working in London and noted for his neoclassical and
rococo silverware which he made on a grand scale. He
supplied some of his work to royalty and nobility, and
worked for rundell, Bridge&Rundell, the Crown goldsmiths,
for a time. In 1822, he established his own firm, Storr &
Glass-making centre in Worcestershire. Glass factories were
established there in the early 17thC by a group of huguenot
glass-makers. It was the most important 19thC English
producer of fine table and decorative glass, including
coloured, lead crystal, engraved and cameo glass. See Thomas
webb & sons, stevens & williams, richardsons.
Decorative motif incorporating interlacing bands or
ribbon-like straps. It was popularised by illustrators and
engravers in 16thC Flanders, and was a feature of
Elizabethan style. Strapwork designs are seen in
wrought-iron work, carved in low-relief on furniture,
stamped, cast or engraved on silver, and painted on
ceramics. The German version, laub und bandelwerk, is seen
on early meissen porcelain. See decorative motifs.
Decoration using short coloured lengths of straw to form
marquetry pictures or patterns and applied to items such as
furniture, boxes and mirrors. It was popular from the 17th
to 19th centuries, particularly in France.
Strawberry Hill Gothic
See gothic revival.
The horizontal bar or rail that connects and supports the
legs of chairs, stools, cabinets and tables. Stretchers are
found in a variety of styles on the lower part of the leg on
16th and 17thC furniture. By the early 18thC they were used
only on a limited basis, and by the end of the century they
were considered unfashionable. See chair.
The blows struck on bells, or gongs of coiled wire, to sound
periods of time on a clock. Hour striking sounds the number
of hours at each hour, whereas a passing strike sounds one
blow at each hour. A half-hour or French strike is hour
striking with an additional single blow at each half-hour.
Quarter striking is also hour striking with the addition at
each quarter-hour of either a double blow on a smaller bell
or six or eight blows on a nest of bells. The term chiming
indicates a quarter strike on a nest of bells and should not
be used to refer to the hour strike. A grande sonnerie
strikes the hours and the quarters at every hour and
quarter-hour; and a petite sonnerie strikes the hours only
on the hour and successive quarter-hours by single, double
or triple 'ting-tang' on two bells. A Dutch strike counts
out the hour both at the hour on one bell and at the
previous half-hour on a differently toned bell.
Small, slim, bedroom or travelling clock, with an easel-like
strut behind, or sometimes with a swivel strut at the base.
The clock was introduced c. 1845 by Thomas Cole (1800-64)
and was produced by various clock-makers to c. 1880.
An Italian term for a slow-setting plaster composed of
gypsum, sand and marble powder. It is used for sculptures
and relief decorations on walls and ceilings.
Ceramics made or decorated by independent artist-craftsmen.
Type of needlework in which layers of buttonhole stitching
and sewn-on decorations such as seed pearls create
sucket fork or spoon
Combined spoon and fork, the two-pronged fork being at the
tip of the spoon handle. It was used mainly to eat succade -
preserved fruit, either in syrup or candied. Most surviving
examples are of 17th - 18thC.
S?e & Mare
rench furniture-making company operational 1919-28,
officially known as the Compagnie des Arts Fran?ois, but
better known by the surnames of its two founders, Louis S?e
and Andr? Mare. Its high-quality art deco furniture made of
luxurious materials was usually commissioned, and the
company also designed interiors and decorative objects.
A box with a lid used for holding and serving sugar. Some
examples have two compartments for different types of sugar
as well as room for a spoon. Sugar boxes are found in silver
Early type of sugar tongs like a pair of scissors but with
arms instead of blades. Sugar nips were introduced in the
mid-18thC for breaking pieces off sugar loaves.
White ceramic cameos and medallions embedded in clear glass,
a technique believed to have been first patented in 1818 by
Pierre-Honor? Boudon de Saint-Amans. A thin layer of air
under the glass gives them a silvery appearance. Sulphides
are seen set in paperweights, in the base of goblets,
perfume bottles and tumblers, and were widely produced in
the early 19thC. Fine examples were made by baccarat, clichy
and Apsley pellatt.
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