Antiques Glossary - V
Author: Jim Coyle
- Val'Saint-Lambert, Cristalleries du
The principal glass factory in Belgium, founded on the
site of a monastery near Liege in 1825. At first it
produced English-style glassware, but later manufactured
its own designs of art glass in art nouveau and art deco
- Van Cleef & Arpels
Firm of jewellers founded in Paris, 1906, noted for a
style of setting stones without the metal holds showing
(known as invisibly set). The firm also introduced the
minaudi?re for women - a decorative metal box with
sections for such items as make-up, comb, money and
- van de Velde, Henri
(1863-1957) Belgian designer and architect, an
influential practitioner and teacher of art nouveau
style, and a founder of the design group deutscher
werkbund. He designed simple but elegant, sparsely
decorated furniture, with parallel curves earlier and
elongated angular shapes later, as well as porcelain for
meissen, jewellery, and metalwork.
- vandyke rim
Scalloped border on glassware or ceramics, named after
the pointed lace collars seen in portraits of the
English court by the Flemish artist Sir Anthony Van Dyck
19thC term for a Spanish 16th to 17th-century drop-front
desk resting on a chest or trestle stand and with
elaborate inlaid decoration.
Transparent, oil or spirit-based liquid giving a hard,
clear surface layer. Expensive furniture may have ten or
more layers of resin dissolved in spirit, each coat
being dried and polished before the next application.
Cheaper furniture may have only two or three coats, with
no polishing in between. Varnishing was used from the
late 17thC while french polishing appeared about 1820.
Today, varnish has been largely superseded by
polyurethane lacquer and cellulose finishes. Oil-based
varnish is used for pictures.
- vase carpets
Term for Persian carpets made using a triple weft
technique. In each set of three wefts, the outer threads
were of wool and pulled taut, and the middle one was of
silk or cotton and slack. This altered the overall
tension of the weave and resulted in a more durable
fabric. It was used for a wide range of different
designs, including those with a vase or vases within the
field pattern and garden carpets.
Porcelain works operating 1751-64, the fourth main
London factory of the period after chelsea, Bow and
Limehouse. A soapstone soft-paste porcelain formula was
used for products ranging from tea wares, candlesticks
and snuffboxes to chamber pots and flowerpots.
Decoration was mainly Chinese-style blue and white,
often similar to delftware produced at nearby lambeth,
but there were also some high-quality hand-painted
designs, and - a Vauxhall speciality - outlines
transfer-printed in two or three colours and then
overpainted with enamel colours.
French for 'night light', and used in the 18th and 19th
centuries for a device to keep broth or a drink warm on
the bedside table. The flame from a small oil lamp or
candle, placed in the cylindrical base, heated a covered
cup or a teapot set on top of a cylinder.
Fine parchment made from calf, lamb or kid skin used for
the pages and binding of early books.
A costly, dense-pile fabric originally of cotton or
linen with a silk pile. It is woven with two warps (two
sets of lengthwise threads), the second warp being
looped and cut with wire to form the pile. In figured
velvet, the design is formed by leaving some areas of
the pile uncut. In pile-on-pile velvet, the length of
the pile is varied, or some areas are left free of pile.
Velvet was first imported into Britain from Italy in the
14thC. Then in the late 17thC it was used as an
upholstery fabric on furniture for the well-to-do. By
the early 18thC velvet was being produced at
spitalfields silk factories. In the 20thC most velvet
has been woven from man-made yarn or a mixture of
natural and man-made fibres.
A thin layer of decorative wood, or sometimes
tortoiseshell or ivory, glued over a wooden body or
carcass. Veneering was practised in ancient Egypt,
Greece and the Roman Empire, and rediscovered in the
early 17thC.The craft came to Britain from Holland a few
decades later, and by the 18thC French and British
cabinet-makers had raised it to a fine art. They cut
woods such as walnut, satinwood and rosewood to make
fullest possible use of grain and colour. The thickness
of a veneer depends on the quality of the wood and how
it is cut; generally 18thC hand-sawn veneers are 1/16in
(1.6 mm) thick; 19thC circular saw veneers, 1/32in (0.8
mm) thick, and the veneers produced by the
machine-powered tools of the late 19thC are thinner
still. See burr.
- Venetian glass
Venice has been an influential centre of glass
production since c. ad 450, although the glasshouses
moved from the city itself to the nearby island of
Murano c. 1290. Early wares were opaque, including
beakers and beads, but with the development of clear
cristallo in the 15thC, Venetian glass came to dominate
the European market. Elegant wine glasses with elaborate
surface decoration (fa?on de Venise) were particularly
popular, and were widely copied throughout Europe.
Venetian glass-makers led the field in making vividly
coloured glassware, and played an important part in
developing millefiori and latticing techniques. When
lead crystal, with its greater strength and clarity,
began to be developed in Britain in the late 17thC, the
Venetian glass industry went into decline, but was
revived in the late 19thC.
- Venini, Paolo
(1895-1959) Foremost modern Italian designer of glass,
with his own factory at Murano from 1925. His designs
combine rich colour and texture with simple lines, and
sometimes incorporating techniques such as millefiori
and latticing. A celebrated design was a free-form bowl
resembling the folds of a cupped handkerchief.
A green powdery deposit which develops on copper, brass
or bronze after long periods of exposure to air. Unlike
the gradual oxidisation process that forms a desirable
patina, verdigris is dreaded by coin and medal
collectors in particular, as it is very difficult to
treat on small objects.
- verge escapement
Patterned with a mass of little worm-like lines; a
decoration developed for s?vres c. 1750.
A distinctive type of strong, flat-weave rug originating
in the southern Caucasus. See sumakh.
- vernier scale
A short, sliding scale attached to the main scale on
some instruments and barometers in the 19th and 20th
centuries to make minute readings possible. The scale
was invented 1631 by French mathematician Paul Vernier.
- vernis martin
A decorative technique which reproduced the effect of
Chinese lacquer. Patented by Frenchman Guillaume Martin
(after whom it was named) and his brothers in the 18thC,
it was the French and Swiss version of japanning. The
lustrous, translucent finish used up to 30 coats of
coloured, monochrome or gold-dusted varnish. Vemis
martin was used to decorate objects of vertu, ?tuis and
- verre craquel?
See ice glass.
- Verre de Soie
See pearl satin-glass
- verre ?glomis?
Glass with gilded decoration that is not fired onto the
surface but protected by varnish or metal foil. The gilt
surface could be engraved with a fine needle point. The
technique dates from ancient Rome, was revived in the
Middle Ages, and again in the 18thC by Paris art dealer
Jean-Baptiste Glomy, after whom the process is now
- Verzelini, Jacopo
(1522-1616) Venetian glass-maker who came to Britain in
1571 and was granted a 21-year monopoly in 1574 to make
glass in the Venetian style.
- vesta case
Case or box for ?vestas? - the friction matches of wax
or wood that preceded the safety match. The cases were
produced from the second half of the 19thC usually in
silver and other metals, but also in a variety of
materials such as porcelain and papier-m?ch?.
Pocket-sized and larger table versions were made later,
often in novelty shapes.
- vetro a fili reticello
- Victorian era
ueen Victoria's reign (1837-1901) during which taste was
much influenced by the rising middle classes.
Innovative porcelain factory founded 1719 which produced
hard-paste porcelain soon after meissen. Early pieces
are high baroque with painted chinoiserie, flower or
landscape decoration. In 1744 the factory was taken over
by the state and produced Meissen-style rococo figures
and tableware. In the late 18thC Vienna produced simple,
neoclassical pieces with gilding and landscapes and
portraits painted in panels on a brilliantly coloured
ground, and Classical figures in biscuit porcelain. The
factory began to decline from the late 1820s, finally
closing in 1864. Throughout the 19thC the Vienna shield
mark was much used by other factories and decorating
workshops copying the Vienna style, hence the widespread
use of inverted commas - 'Vienna' - to denote the origin
of such pieces in cataloguing.
- Vienna regulator
Originally a highly accurate, weight-driven and
pendulum-regulated wall clock, like a small, elegant
longcase clock, with a glass-panelled case. The clocks
were first made in Vienna from the early 19thC, but c.
1860 versions of much inferior quality were
mass-produced in Germany for the European and US
markets. The Viennese examples, made during the
biedermeier period (1815-45), commonly have restrained
rectilinear cases with pedimented tops; later German
types are fussier in style, with a profusion of turned
- Vienna Secession
A group of artists and designers who, influenced by the
rectilinear, vertical designs of Scottish
architect-designer Charles Rennie mackintosh and the
glasgow school, broke away from the artistic
establishment in Vienna. Two leading figures, Josef
Hoffmann and Kolomon Moser, went on to establish the
1 Decoration of vine leaves and bunches of grapes, used
in medieval carvings and fashionable again for friezes
on furniture in neoclassical style. 2 Picture or
decoration (on porcelain, for example) whose edges fade
into the surround instead of having a sharply defined
- Vile & Cobb
(1751 -64) Cabinet-making partnership between William
Vile (c.1700-67) and John Cobb (c.1715-78). Their
furniture was noted for its consistently excellent
workmanship, although it was overshadowed by Thomas
chippendale's output. Vile, the senior partner in the
firm, was in 1761 appointed cabinet-maker to the royal
household by King George III, for whom he produced some
of the finest English furniture in rococo style, using
rare woods and delicate marquetry decoration.
Small, gilt-lined metal box designed to hold a sponge
soaked in spiced vinegar or aromatic oil, and held in
place by a grille. The aroma was inhaled when the hinged
lid was raised, to fend off foul smells or to revive
swooning ladies. Vinaigrettes became popular and
fashionable items from the late 18thC until the end of
- violet wood
A display cabinet with glass doors or lid and often
glazed sides as well, in which small items of interest
such as coins or fossils were kept. Vitrines were
introduced in the second half of the iSthC and
reproduced later in the 19thC. Towards the end of the
19thC the vitrine table, with a lined display
compartment and glass top and sides, was introduced.
scroll See decorative motifs.
An early form of tray, used for clearing scraps from the
dining table in the 17thC, that evolved into the
- volcanic glass
See lava glass.
A decorative coil - as for example on ornamental handles
on pottery and at the ends of the horizontal comb-piece
topping some windsor chair backs. It was copied from the
coils near the top of an Ionic column in Classical
Low-seated chair for sitting astride with the elbows
resting on the padded top of the back - while watching
card games for example. It was first made in France in
the mid- 18thC. A similar chair for ladies to kneel on
(since they could not sit astride with modesty) is
called a voyeuse ? genoux.
- Voysey, C.F.A.
(1857-1941) British architect and designer who believed
in functional design, and was associated with the art
furniture movement. He was also influenced by the purist
ideas of William morris and the arts and crafts
movement. His best furniture was produced 1895-1910, and
he designed wallpapers and fabrics. Voysey influenced
both art nouveau style and the development of industrial
Hard, black material made by heating rubber with sulphur
and used to simulate jet in jewellery and for some early
fountain pens. It is also known as ebonite.
- Vulliamy family
Three generations of a clock-making family of Swiss
origin working in London c. 1750-1854. Justin (c.
1730-90), Benjamin (1747-1811) and Benjamin Lewis
(1780-1854) made longcase, bracket, and mantel carriage
clocks. Benjamin Lewis had the unfortunate tendency to
replace the original movements of clocks sent in for
repair with his own new movements.
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