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Antiques Glossary - Z

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Author: Jim Coyle

  • Zebrawood
    A decorative, reddish-brown wood barred with dark stripes, also known as tiger wood. It is a hard, heavy, Brazilian timber, most commonly seen in banding and inlaid decoration. In the late 18thC and throughout the 19thC, zebrawood was sometimes used as a veneer for complete surfaces of bureaux, desks and tables.
  • Zinc
    Bluish-white metallic element. It is used to form various alloys such as brass, bronze and nickel silver. Zinc was not produced commercially in Britain until the 18thC. See spelter.
  • Zircon
    Gemstone which ranges in colour through yellow, red and orange to green. Colourless, golden-brown and sky-blue versions are produced by heat treatment. Most of the mineral suitable for gemstones comes from the Far East and Sri Lanka. Yellow and brown shades of zircon were often termed hyacinth, and transparent or colourless types are sometimes known as jargons or jargoons. Colourless zircons are sometimes used as substitutes for diamonds, but are not as hard or brilliant.
  • zoetrope
    Optical toy popular in Victorian times. It consists of a revolving cylinder which is open at the top and has a series of pictures arranged along the inner surface. The pictures are viewed through slits around the edge of the cylinder and appear to be moving when the box is rotated rapidly. The zoetrope was developed in the 1830s and is also known as a zootrope or wheel of life.
  • Zucchi, Antonio Pietro
    (1726-91) Italian painter and designer of furniture and household fittings. He travelled with architect Robert adam in Italy and, on coming to England in 1766, did a great deal of work with him on house interiors. Zucchi was the second husband of painter Angelica kauffmann.
  • Zwischengoldglas
    Glass vessel decorated with engraving and gold or silver leaf, and then sheathed with another layer of glass to enclose the design. The name literally means 'gold between glass'. This technique dates from c.300 bc, but most surviving examples were made in Bohemia between 1730 and 1755. It is seen mainly on beakers or goblets decorated with hunting, heraldic or religious images.

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