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Antiques Glossary - S

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Author: Jim Coyle

  • Saarinen, 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 extra strength.

    See armour.

    Sabino, Marius-Ernest
    (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.

    sabre leg
    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.

    saddle seat
    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.

    saddle stool
    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 firing.

    Salopian ware
    See caughley.

    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 table.

    Salt-glazed stoneware
    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.

    Sam Browne
    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 designed it.

    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.

    Samson, Emile
    (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 'egg-and-spinach').

    sand glass
    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, greyish finish.

    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.

    See corundum.

    Newly formed, soft whitish wood of a tree between the outer skin of bark and the central core of heartwood, also known as alburnum.

    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.

    satsu bako
    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.

    See x-chair.

    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

    See fretwork.

    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.

    scale pattern
    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 for vaccination.

    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 gilding.

    Scottish glassware
    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.

    scratch blue
    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 at doulton.

    scratch carving
    Simple decoration on 16thand 17thC furniture. Designs consist of single lines carved into the surf ace of the wood.

    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.

    scrimshaw work
    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 the 17thC.

    See escutcheon.

    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 freedom box.

    seat curb
    See fender.

    seaweed marquetry
    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 patterns.

    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.

    sedan chair
    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.

    sedan clock
    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.

    Seddon, George
    (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.

    self-pouring teapot
    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 mid-19thC.

    semiprecious stone
    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.

    Senneh knot
    See carpet knots.

    See meerschaum.

    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 underglaze blue.

    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 periods.

    sewing table
    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 green.

    Shaker furniture
    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.

    Sheffield plate
    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.

    shelf clock
    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.

    shelf dolls
    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 c. 1900.

    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.

    Shelley potteries
    See foley china works.

    Sheraton, Thomas
    (1751-1806) British cabinet-maker whose Cabinet-Maker's and Upholsterer's Drawing Book encapsulated the elegant, neoclassical furniture style named after him.

    See lacquer.

    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.

    shot glass
    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.

    side cabinet
    See chiffonier.

    side chair
    Simple chair without arms, also known as a single, upright or small chair.

    side table
    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 serving table.

    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.

    sidereal time
    See mean time.

    signpost barometer
    See angle barometer.

    sileh rugs
    See sumakh.

    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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    silicon ware
    See doulton.

    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).

    silk-screen printing
    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 gilt
    Silver plated with a thin layer of gold.

    silver table
    See tea table.

    Silver-electroplated glass
    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.

    Silveria glass
    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.

    See harewood.

    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.

    single chair
    See side chair.

    siphon barometer
    Barometer that has a J-shaped glass tube containing mercury. The wheel barometer was developed using a siphon tube.

    size gilding
    See gilding.

    skean dhu
    Gaelic for 'black knife' - a Scottish Highlander's dirk that was held in the sock against the leg when not in use.

    skeleton clock
    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.

    slag glass
    See lava glass.

    slick stone
    See linen smoother.

    See coaster.

    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 19thC onwards.

    See bourdalou.

    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 in ceramics.

    smear glaze
    See glaze.

    Smith, George
    (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 Victorian furniture.

    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.

    snap table
    A table with a top that snaps or folds down vertically over the supporting pillar, as in 18thC tripod tables. See birdcage.

    A form of ignition similar to the flintlock using flint and steel.

    snuff bottles
    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 mid-19thC onwards.

    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.

    sociable seat
    See confidante.

    soda glass
    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 guests).

    sofa table
    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.

    soft-paste porcelain
    See porcelain.

    Timber from cone-bearing trees which is generally softer than hardwood and therefore easier to work. Softwoods include pine, cedar, spruce and yew.

    solid china
    See frozen charlotte. solid jasper See jasperware. solitaire See cabaret.

    Song dynasty
    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.

    souscription watch
    See breguet.

    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 bullion market.

    soy frame
    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.

    Spanish flintlock
    See miquelet.

    Spanish knot
    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.

    spider-leg table
    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.

    spill vase
    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.

    spinet doll
    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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    sponged ware
    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 spatterware.

    See polearms.

    See cutlery.

    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 jasperware.

    Sprimont, Nicholas
    (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.

    Spring-driven clocks
    See balance, barrel, fusee, train.

    spur marks
    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.

    St Cloud
    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 1766.

    St Ives pottery
    See leach, Bernard.

    St Louis
    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 sulphides.

    Staffordshire potteries
    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.

    stained glass
    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 designs.

    stainless steel
    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.

    Stam, Mart
    (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.

    stamped velvet
    See gauffered.

    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.

    standing cup
    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.

    standing tray
    See butler's tray.

    ee inkstand.

    Ancient Greek coinage of gold or silver.

    See soapstone.

    See glasses, drinking.

    stem cup
    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.

    step cut
    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.

    sterling standard
    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.

    Steuben Glassworks
    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.

    stick barometer
    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.

    Stickley, Gustav
    (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 joining.

    stilt marks
    See spur marks. stipple engraving See engraving.

    stirrup cup
    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 glass

    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.

    stone china
    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 followed suit.

    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 four legs.

    stopped dovetail
    See joining.

    Glass, ceramic or metal piece that fits in the neck of a bottle or decanter. Stoppers were frequently decorated to match the container.

    Storr, Paul
    (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 & Mortimer

    Stourbridge glasshouses
    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.

    straw marquetry
    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.

    striking systems
    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.

    See banding.

    strut clock
    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.

    studio pottery
    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 three-dimensional 'stump'pictures.

    See gnomon.

    style rayonnan
    See lambrequin.

    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.

    sugar box
    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 or porcelain.

    sugar nips
    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.

    A flat-weave
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