Glossary of Terms
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A conventionalised leaf exemplified as classical ornament in the capitals of the Corinthian and Composite orders; frequently found in mahogany furniture from the Georgian period onwards.
Generally translucent and white or grey in colour, alabaster is a form of the mineral gypsum which can be polished to a smooth and waxy finish. Often used in sculpture, decorative stone panelling, beads and cabochons.
A type of wood native to south east Asia typically orange or reddish-brown with a curled and mottled grain. Used for veneers and furniture.
Functional supports of cast iron or brass used in open fireplaces to hold logs.
Honeysuckle motif originated with Greek and Roman architecture and was used extensively on furnishings and decorative arts of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It is marked by a stylised flower design of scrolling or radiating form. Famous furniture makers and designers including Gillows of Lancaster, Thomas Sheraton and George Hepplewhite incorporated this motif in their furniture designs.
The first name of the owner of Bushwood Antiques; also known as Tony.
Relief decoration typically applied to the surface of a ceramic. Often used by Wedgwood to adorn their jasper wares.
Ornamental member situated below the seat rail of a chair or settee, also found below the frieze of cabinets and tables.
An ornamentation consisting of an interlacing design of foliage, usually designed for a vertical panel, with the sides resembling each other.
Carved architectural ornament suggesting arches. Often used on chair-backs and applied on panels.
A movable wardrobe, usually with one or two doors, originating in late 16th century France.
A highly figured hardwood having a variety of shades from a greyish hue to deep brown. Used chiefly in structural concealed portions of furniture.
A small moulding, of plain, semi circular section, used extensively for glazing bars.
Flat, tapestry-woven coverings named for the French manufactory in Aubusson, established in 1664. Aubusson fabrics are highly-regarded and of exceptional quality.
A coarse lining cloth introduced from the low countries.
A furniture foot cut to imitate a talon or claw grasping a ball. English 18th-century furniture.
Mainly employed during the late 17th century as a terminal to cabinets or to the turned legs on tables.
Turned vase-shaped vertical post supporting the rail of a staircase or splat of a chair.
Turned timber made to simulate the natural appearance of bamboo, usually painted.
A decorative , inlaid border or broad edging of contrasting wood or woods. In the late 18th century broad bandings in various exotic woods were used; satinwood in particular was laid against mahogany.
A style of architecture, art and decoration which originated in Italy during the late 16th century and spread throughout Europe. It is characterised by over scaled, bold details and sweeping curves.
A moulding resembling a string of beads, and a small, plain moulding of semi-circular section.
Bead and Reel
A decorative border found in the form of inlay in the 16th and 17th centuries.
A hardwood which lacks a pronounced grain.
A type of turning used for furniture legs and pedestal supports shaped like a conventional bell. Common in the William and Mary style.
Curvilinear high style of the later part of the 19th century and early 20th century, combining Victorian eclecticism and the flowing, sinuous forms of Art Nouveau.
A light, fragile feldspathic porcelain cast in moulds finished with a lustrous pearly glaze. Invented c. 1860 by William Goss of Stoke and improved by William Bromley at the Irish factory of David McBirney & Co.in Belleek Co., Fermanaugh. Belleek was also produced at many American factories from 1882-1900 and is known as lotus ware by Knowles of East Liverpool.
Armchair with upholstered sides from French designs of c.1725 also of a variety of couch. Early models were caned, later ones upholstered.
The edge of any flat surface that has been cut at a slant to the main area.
A style of furniture produced in Austria and Germany during the first half of the 19th century. Inspired by French Empire and German painted peasant work. The name was borrowed from an imaginary cartoon character called Papa Biedermeier, an uneducated country gentleman who considered himself a connoisseur of fine and industrial arts. Simple marquestry patterns were used with pressed brass ornaments of Greek inspiration as well as painted motifs of wreaths, urns, and floral, animal and human forms. Woods used were mainly fruitwoods, maple, mahogany and birch.
A hardwood with a close grain and a deep tan hue. One of the strongest cabinet woods grown in America.
A decorative wood feature most common in maple. It is formed by small depressions in the outermost growth ring of the timber, with the later growth following the contours and forms a series of small concentric circles when cut.
Unglazed porcelain or pottery commonly used for Neo-Classical reliefs and statuettes since the middle of the 18th century.
An un-glazed line-grained black stoneware perfected by Wedgwood c. 1769. Decorated with relief, gilding or enamelling.
Furniture carved in and around Bern, Switzerland, during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, commonly identified by its use of carved bears and other creatures of the forest, such as deer and birds. Bear furniture originally began as a hobby for the Swiss family of cabinetmakers and wood-carvers named Trauffer. The linden tree was preferred for most furniture as it is easy to carve, but walnut was also widely used.
The first blackamoors were created in Venice in the late 17th century. Later, during the mid 1800s, Venetian artists carved some of the most impressive and graceful examples known, much to the delight of wealthy European families whose demand for fine art and furnishings seemed insatiable. Blackamoor figures ranged from monumental, life-size figures serving as torcheres to diminutive table top figurines used as candleholders.
A variety of the mineral fluorspar with distinctive banding of blue, violet, and purple, found at Treak Cliff, near Castleton in Derbyshire, England. Since the Roman era, blue john has been used for the production of decorative wares which were shaped on a lathe.
Richly carved woodwork used as panels, especially in 17th and 18th century French decoration.
A projecting moulding of ogee shape, raised round a panel.
A French term, literally meaning “blown out”, describing a large outward swelling curve on the front of a piece of furniture.
A small, light lady’s writing desk first made in France in the 1760s. It has a central drawer in front, tiered shelves and cupboards in the back, and sometimes a shelf between the legs.
Decorative type of marquetry in which tortoiseshell, brass, copper and tin were cut and pierced into elaborate floral or curving designs. Originally a 10th century Italian process, Boulle marquety developed in 17th century France and was perfected by Andre-Charles Boulle (1642-1732).
Used on chest, cabinets etc. a straight corner edge and curved inner edges.
Cabinet piece the front of which has one or more projecting portions.
A jacquard weave fabric, with pattern in low relief, usually on a satin background. It may be in one or more colours and has an embroidered effect.
Ornamental coating of gold leaf or gold dust. Also known as gilding.
The bulb like part of the turned supports of furniture (tables, chairs etc.)
A furniture support that resembles a slightly flattened ball or sphere. Commonly used in William and Mary case furniture.
Desk popular in late 17th-century England and France distinguished by its sloping fall-front. The flap is hinged at the base and rests on loppers when open, folding up at an angle when closed. In America, used to describe a bedroom chest of drawers.
A curly-grained wood surface or veneer cut from irregular growths of the tree, such as the roots or crotches. Very common in walnut.
The surname of the owner of Bushwood Antiques
One of the largest suppliers of Antique Furniture in England; a reputable source.
As in the form of a gem, one which is oval, polished and usually convex, but not cut into facets; this motif bordered by ornamental carving, is found in particular on the knees of chair legs.
A furniture leg with a double curve. A stylised form of animal hind leg with elongated “S” shape; variously terminated by club, hoof, bun, paw, claw and ball or scroll feet. Popular in late 18th and 19th-century Europe.
A French term used to identify a decorative china or metal jardinière designed to hold a small potted plant or cut flowers.
Chair or sofa back of late Chippendale or Hepplewhite style. The top rail is in the form of a serpentine curve with two humps downward and three humps upward.
A small-scale, shallow relief decoration of carved stone, shell, glass or ceramic typically set against a contrasting coloured background developed during the Hellenistic period. Cameos are predominately used in jewellery decoration.
Glass decoration utilising two layers of glass in which the exterior layer, usually white, is cut away from the underlying coloured layer creating a contrasting relief design.
A branched candlestick or lamp stand.
A woody stem of rattan or sugar cane used for wickerwork, seats of chairs, summer furniture, etc.
A draped covering of fabric suspended over a piece of furniture and supported by four posts.
A surface which is bevelled, chamfered, or obliquely faced.
Ornamental stand having compartments and divisions for papers, portfolios, envelopes, magazines etc.
The decorative crowning motif atop a column or pilaster shaft usually composed of mouldings and ornament. The most characteristic feature of each classical architectural order.
The body of a piece of furniture.
Carlton House Desk
The original “Carlton House” desk was made in the 1790s for George IV, then the Prince of Wales, living at Carlton House in London. Though little else is known about the origins of this important desk, the style and bearing are doubtless the hallmarks of a Thomas Sheraton design. Many variations emerged from that original desk.
Typically oval in shape, a cartouche is an ornamental motif with curved or scrolling edges. Often the cartouche contains a coat-of-arms, ornamental monogram or an inscription.
A decorative upright female figure used in the place of a column. In the early 18th century found on chests and cupboards.
Furniture which provides storage space.
A vase, usually gilt-bronze, with a pierced lid for burning perfume pastilles made in France from the 17th century on. Some examples often have a cover which reverses to form a candlestick.
A hollowed moulding forming in profile the quadrant of a circle. A prominent cornice in large furniture.
A semi-translucent, usually green glaze, used on Chinese stoneware.
A portable chest, case, or cabinet for storing bottles, decanters and glasses, dating from the 18th century.
A long chair designed for relaxing and semi-reclining, usually upholstered. Adapted from the French 18th-century style, it was often made in two parts: a deep bergere and large stool, which when put together, formed a daytime sofa. Also called a recamier.
A surface or edge which has been smoothed off, bevelled or cut away from the square.
A type of enamelling in which powdered glass is placed in the hollowed-out areas of a piece before firing.
A technique used to decorate metal objects, especially silver, which involves the use of shaped punches and a chasing hammer to model the piece.
An inlay of light and dark woods forming a pattern of squares like that of a chess board.
A chest of drawers consisting of two parts, one mounted on top of the other. Similar to a tallboy.
An overstuffed sofa of large size with a continuous straight back and upholstered ends.
A large full-length mirror, usually standing on the floor.
The chiffonier is a sideboard, or cabinet, introduced during the late 18th century with open shelves for books and a cupboard or drawers below.
Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779 was one of the great cabinet makers of the 18th-century England. His work shows a refinement of Georgian styles, influenced by the Gothic, Chinese and French Rococo. First of his era to extensively use mahogany rather than walnut, the prevailing wood in the Early Georgian period. In 1754 he published “The Gentlemen’s and Cabinetmaker’s Directory”, illustrating the styles of the day.
Claw and ball foot
Of oriental derivation; terminal to the cabriole leg representing an animals paw or dragons or birds claw, clutching a ball.
A type of enamelling in which compartments separated by thin strips of metal are filled with powdered glass prior to firing.
The most common terminal to the cabriole leg also known as pad foot.
Astragal moulding, small and applied to the edges of drawer fronts.
A restorer at Bushwood Antiques.
Wares that commemorate an important or historical event, such as a battle, coronation, or wedding.
French form of low chest-of-drawers, originally intended for the drawing room, dating from the mid 17th-century and very popular in the 18th century. Became a term for bedroom cupboards in the 19th century.
A small table that can be attached to the wall in the back having two legs in front or can be free-standing against the wall.
A bracket (architectural).
The projecting, crowning portion of a classical entablature. Also horizontal moulding at the top of case pieces, such as bookcases and cabinets.
Classical motif in the shape of a goat’s horn out of which spills fruit, vegetables, and flowers. A symbol of fertility and abundance popular during the Baroque and Rococo periods. Also horn-of-plenty.
A very hard wood similar to ebony.
A network of cracks in the glaze of some Chinese porcelain, deliberately introduced as decoration.
Tiny surface cracks in the glaze of porcelain or on a painting.
Sideboard with doors surmounted by drawers, used for storage.
Thin strips of decorative cross-grained veneer.
A thin sheet of wood cut from the intersection of the main trunk and branch of a tree, showing an irregular effect of graining.
The highest moulding on a door, window, or cabinet.
A cruet is a small bottle used for oils, vinegars and other condiments. Its earliest use was ecclesiastical for wine, oil and water. A few medieval examples exist today. In the late 17th century, cruets were used domestically and were made of glass imported from Italy and adorned with silver or silver-plated mounts. Cruets were grouped together on a stand in a frame or rack typically with a central vertical handle and supporting feet. The number of bottles could vary from two to six or more and were often combined with casters.
Fine, high-quality glass containing lead oxide invented in 17th century England. The lead oxide is attributed to providing the glass with extraordinary qualities of brilliance, sound and a suitable texture for cutting or engraving. Some of the finest crystal ever made is from Baccarat in France (est. 1816) and Waterford in Ireland (est. 1729).
Any glass whose surface has been cut into facets, grooves and depressions aided by a large, rotating wheel. Wheel cutting glass decoration was developed in the 8th century BC, but the technique of faceting wasn’t perfected until the 18th century in England. Although cutting glass is a costly and difficult process, the brilliant effects are extraordinary!
A linen, cotton, rayon, or silk fabric with a reversible jacquard weave and a lustrous surface.
Polisher at Bushwood Antiques for nearly 20 years.
These small writing desks most often feature a sloping top, brass galleries, a set of drawers on one side and false drawer fronts on the other. It is believed that the famous furniture making firm, Gillows of London, first created the desk around 1790 for a Captain Davenport.
Earthenware made in The Netherlands, known for its heavy glaze. A blue under glaze decoration on conventional patterns with town and landscape scenes on a white background.
The under moulding of a cornice consisting of a series of small rectangular shaped blocks or “teeth”.
Restorer at Bushwood Antiques for over 25 years; Italian form Bernado.
A life-size exhibit of a wildlife specimen or scene with realistic natural surroundings and a painted background.
A period of design in France after the Revolution, from 1795 to 1804. Characterised by Roman motifs and named for the Directory, the government at the time.
A term in carpentry used to designate a method of joinery. A tenon or tongue that flares outward in the shape of a dove’s tail that interlocks with alternating similar grooves or projections from another piece of wood. Frequently used to join corners of drawers and cabinets.
Headless pin of metal or wood which fits into a corresponding hole on another piece, forming a joint fastening them together.
A top or front of a desk hinged at the bottom that drops to a horizontal position, forming a surface for writing. Also called a drop-lid.
A leaf, hinged to the side of a table, which drops at the side when not in use.
A round table with a deep apron resembling a drum.
A serving table, consisting of three or four circular trays on a central shaft with the smallest being at the top and the largest at the bottom. Also known as a tier table.
All pottery except for stoneware.
French term meaning “cabinet maker” designating a high-grade craftsman specializing in the art of veneering.
The staining of wood to black to simulate ebony.
The name given to several different woods that are very dark in colour, sometimes dark brown or green to black in colour.
A decorative motif of classical origin consisting of ovoid or egg shapes alternating with dart-like points.
A uniform and fine textured wood with a light brownish-red colour tinged with darker brown ring marks.
A process of stamping, hammering or moulding a material so that a design protrudes beyond the surface.
A period of Neo-classic design during the reign of Napoleon 1804-14. Greek, Roman, and Egyptian motifs were widely used. The style spread throughout Europe and appeared in America in some of Duncan Phyfe’s work.
A painted porcelain decoration in vitreous colours that fuse to the glazed surface during low temperature kiln firing. Enamel sinks deeply into soft-paste porcelain but is not absorbed by hard-paste porcelain.
The process of cutting or carving lines into a surface.
An ornamental centrepiece usually of glass or silver or a combination of both. Two or more vase-shaped holders are branched upward from a decorative base to hold flowers.
Metal plate fitted around a keyhole for protection and decoration or to which a handle or knob can be attached.
Set of free-standing or wall shelves used to display objects, sometimes with drawers or doors.
Prints from a copper plate upon which a drawing or design has been made by a metal tool.
Extraordinary jewelled works of art by Peter Carl Faberge, legendary jeweller to the Czars of Russia.
Richly decorated and colourful pottery produced first in Faenza, Italy and at Rouen, France about 1644. Small flowers, cornucopias and arrows are typical motifs done in blue, green, and yellow on a cream white background.
French arm chair with upholstered seat and back.
An American period 1780-1830 influenced by English Adam, Sheraton, Regency, Hepplewhite, French Directoire and Empire. Mahogany was used extensively but cherry pine, and maple were also used. The most common ornament on this period of furniture was the eagle.
The glaze on hard-paste porcelain which fuses into a type of natural glass at a very high temperature.
A panel with bevelled edges, enclosing a flat central field.
Decorative technique using open or backed wire work. The fine wire is typically gold or silver and is worked into an intricate design.
An ornamental knob usually on the cover of a tureen or similar, where it serves as a handle.
A knob or crowning, sometimes in the form of a carved vase with drapery, found at the intersection of stretchers on a table, chairs and stools, on cabinets and at the top of pole screens.
The conventionalised iris flower used by the former kings of France as a decorative motif symbolizing royalty.
A table having two leaves, one on top of the other.
Decoration formed by making parallel, concave grooves. In classical architecture they are commonly seen on column shafts and run in a vertical direction.
Synthetic ivory. An artificial plastic produced to imitate ivory first produced by the Xylonite Company in 1866. Other names include Celluloid, Ivoride, Ivorine, Ivorite and Pyralin.
A durable finish of high gloss created by applying successive layers of shellac varnish to wood. The degree of shine may vary from subtle gloss to a mirrored gloss. The name is used because it is believed to have been first used in France in the late 1600s.
Furniture style created by craftsmen in the French provinces. Local woods were generally used for pieces that were practical for the home. Tended to be simpler versions of the Louis XV style.
A painting done on plaster before it dries, generally in mural decoration.
Elaborate form of pierced decoration in wood created by using a fretsaw.
Applied series of small vertical, diagonal or twisted flutes commonly used as a border decoration on silverware.
The ornamental metal or wood railing around the edge of a table or desk.
Carved ornamental edging of repetitive forms , concave or convex, upright or twisted. A popular ornament during the oak period.
A period of design in English furniture from 1714 to 1795. Among the best known designers were Hepplewhite, Sheraton, Chippendale, and the Adams Brothers. Mahogany and walnut were the chief woods used.
A prepared plaster of chalk and white lead which may be cast to make repeating ornamental forms in relief to be applied to wood panels, plaster surfaces etc.
The decoration of an object with a thin layer of gold, gold leaf or gold foil.
Founded in 1703 by Robert Gillows, the Gillows firm operated successfully as a family-owned business well into the 19th century. Operating from Lancaster, England, Gillows was especially noted for their quality and innovative designs.
Elaborate candelabra associated with Rococo and Neoclassical design. Also refers to heavily carved or glided sconces or wall brackets with mirrored backplates to reflect the candlelight.
A shiny, glassy surface coating that also seals porous bodies of porcelain and pottery. Glazes can be translucent, opaque or coloured. Lead and salt glazes are applied to pottery and soft-paste porcelain, feldspathic glazes to hard-paste porcelain.
A small table or pedestal with a circular top dating from the 17th and early 18th centuries. Originally used to support candelabras.
A mark or stamp applied to a precious metal by a legally appointed official denoting quality of a piece after assaying, examining to determine the amount of precious metal contained in a piece.
A tightly stuffed, upholstered cushion used as a footstool or seat.
An English designer in the18th century who frequently co-operated with the Adams Brothers. He wrote “The Cabinet Maker and Upholsterer’s Guide”.
Also known as feather banding. A decorative border of inlay characteristic of furniture of the walnut period and distinct from crossbanding in that two strips of veneer compose the banding and are laid together at an angle of approximately 90 degrees one with the other and so forming a herringbone pattern.
Hair cloth, used for covering of chairs, in its raw form used for upholstery filling.
Heavily decorated Japanese porcelain with overglaze enamels and gilding. Popular in the first half of the 18th century.
A pattern or carving produced by cutting into a stone, wood, or other hard surface. The reverse of relief carving.
Form of decoration used in furniture and ceramics, inlay is when part of a solid is removed and replaced with a contrasting material.
A decorative technique in which a design is cut into a hard surface. Intaglio is also the Italian word for carving.
Created to imitate porcelain, Ironstone china was first made in England in 1813 by Charles James Mason of Staffordshire and was known as “Mason’s Ironstone”. Ironstone china is very hard, opaque and pale-bodied.
Period in English design from 1603 to 1688, characterized by practicality and a tendency toward Baroque. Early American furniture is based on this period. Box-like and architectural in style.
The accountant at Bushwood Antiques; known as Jim.
Term used for European techniques to imitate designs from the Far East.
A plant or flower container
The craft of assembling woodwork by means of mortise and tenon, dovetail, tongue and groove, dowels, etc.
Sales Manager at Bushwood Antiques.
A Brazilian wood, also called violet wood from the colour of its markings, used in fine cabinetwork. Given its name because it was preferred by the kings of France in the 18th century.
Desk with a solid lower portion but with an opening for the knees of a person seated at it.
Oriental varnish obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree. Gave a high-gloss finish to furniture in Europe in the 17th century. Mother-of-pearl, coral, and metals were often inlaid in the lacquer to create a decorative effect.
A luminous, transparent glass introduced in the early 20th century by Rene Lalique of France. Most of his designs have a sculptural quality achieved by pressing and alternating a dull with a polished surface.
Used as a panel decoration in the form of linen folds.
Francois Linke was the most celebrated and influential ebeniste(cabinet maker) of his time. His work has long been admired for its exceptional quality and innovative interpretation of the Louis XV and Art Nouveau styles.
Carved ornamental feature, most often found on the knee of the cabriole leg, also in the form of brass handles.
Chest of drawers mounted on short legs. Usually about three feet high.
A metallic, sometimes iridescent, form of decoration.
Design commonly used by Duncan Phyfe on the backs of chairs. A representation of lyre figures carved from wood with brass wires used to represent the strings.
Straight grained hard wood with silky texture, ranging in colour from salmon-pink through bright red and when newly cut, changes to a golden or deep brown red.
A 19th century type of earthenware featuring coloured lead glazes.
An opaque green mineral with very pronounced and often concentric banding. Its surface is hard enough to be polished and malachite has been used for beads, cabochons, decorative items and pietre dure.
The projecting shelf surmounting a fireplace.
Light reddish-brown wood with uniform texture. Grain is usually straight except when different veneers are used.
Shaped pieces of wood or other material used as a veneer on furniture to create decorative patterns.
A flush pattern produced by inserting contrasting materials in a veneered surface. Rare, grained, and coloured woods are usually used, but thin layers of tortoiseshell, ivory, mother-of-pearl, and metals are also seen. If the pattern is of a geometric nature, it is called parquetry.
A polisher at Bushwood Antiques.
A circular or oval frame having within it an ornamental motif.
Manufacturers of true porcelain whose wares remain unrivalled in terms of innovation and beauty. Meissen is the name of the small town in which alchemist Johann Friedrich Bottger was imprisoned by the King of Saxony where he remained for several years until 1710 when he finally discovered a formula for true (hard-paste) porcelain.
Sofa with one arm higher than the other.
Employed on mouldings, framing a panel, each of the edges being cut at an angle of 45 degrees.
A decorative technique in which square or rectangular pieces of stone, glass, ceramic tile (also known as tessare) are set in mortar in and artistic motif. Tiny mosaics are referred to as micro mosaics.
A term used to reference the hard, iridescent inner lining of certain mollusc shells such as oyster and mussel. Used as a decorative inlay in furniture and objets d’art.
An ornamental attachment typically of gilt-bronze on high-quality porcelain.
Refers to the second revival of classic design for interior decoration in the 18th century.
Group of tables, usually three, constructed so that one fits under the other.
A hardwood varies from light tan to deep leathery brown with black spots. Variations due to differences in climate and soil.
Tall, square stone monumental shaft with pyramidal top used in ancient Egypt. The form, on a small scale in alabaster, is used as a decorative ornament in Directoire, Empire and contemporary interiors.
Generic term for decorative, small tables such as end tables, coffee tables, lamp tables etc.
Derived from French for ground gold, the term refers to gilded bronze or brass mounts.
A low, upholstered seat without backs or arms. Sometimes used as a foot-rest.
Decoration applied to a piece of pottery or porcelain after it has been glazed.
Oyster veneering, a technique indicative of William and Mary furnishings, was achieved by transversely cutting or slicing the smaller branches of certain trees such as walnut or olive. These small, rounded veneers, with their circular striations, resembled the inside of an oyster and when pieced together produced a most dramatic effect.
Club foot resting on an integral disc.
In China and Japan, a tower, usually having several stories, built in connection with a temple or monastery.
The group of colours used in a particular style or by a particular factory or decorator.
Inlay of geometric design.
Desk large enough to seat two people facing each other with working drawers on both sides.
Round or oval medallion motif frequently incorporating fluting leaves or flower petals in its design. Often carved or inlaid.
Term used to designate a mellow sheen formed on the surface of furniture, due to wear, age, exposure, and hand-rubbing. Also a film usually greenish, formed on copper or bronze after long exposure.
The change of colour of a metal surface due to a chemical reaction between the metal and its environment. A patina can be created naturally or artificially.
The secretary/pa at Bushwood Antiques; also known as Tricia.
Tall, narrow base which supports a statue, lamp, vase or any decorative object. Usually treated with mouldings at the top and a base block on the bottom. Without mouldings it is called a plinth.
Broad triangular or curved space above a portico, doorway, window or cabinet. Can have segmental, scroll and broken forms.
A drop-leaf table.
Alloy of tin and lead which has a dull grey appearance and is used for the making of tableware and ornaments. Originally it was intended as a substitute for silver but its value diminished in the 17th century with the advent of chinaware for everyday use.
A small, round table having a top with its edge carved or moulded in scallops. Common in 18th-century English furniture.
Tall, narrow framed mirror originally placed between two windows to enhance light coming into a room. Often an accompaniment to a low table or consol.
Decorative technique used on precious and non-precious metals, created by perforating the metal sheet. Some extraordinary pierced work was achieved by the noteworthy Goldsmiths and Silversmiths of London during the 18th and 19th centuries.
A raised decoration of scalloped form resembling the outer edge of a piecrust – commonly found on tables.
An Italian phrase which means “hard stones,” pietre dure is often used to describe sculptural or decorative use of hard stones. This technique was used to decorate furniture, cameos, vases and decorative panels.
Architectural term for a flattened column attached to a facade for decoration rather than structural support.
Wood that is uniform in texture but sometimes strongly marked with annual rings. It dries easily and does not shrink or swell greatly with changes in moisture content.
The low square base of a column; a foundation supporting the body of a piece of furniture.
Decoration using three or more colours.
Even-textured and straight-grained wood, it is available in lumber as well as in thin stock suitable for cross-banding and face veneers.
Translucent white ceramic body made from kaolin and petuntse (hard-paste) or another ingredient that induces translucency (soft-paste) fired at high temperatures.
Generic term for all ceramic wares except for porcelain.
Peasant-like and naive in style.
A young boy, commonly seen in Italian painting and sculpture.
(pl. for putto) cupids or cherubs commonly used as a decorative motif.
A period in English furniture design from 1702-1714, characterised by adaptation of Baroque and the extensive use of the cabriole leg. Walnut was the dominant wood.
The reverse of fluting, convex raised ornamentation in the series of pipes or reeds, found on table legs and chairs.
Period of severe neoclassicism from 1810-1820 influenced by the French Empire.
Forms of moulded, carved or stamped decoration raised from the surface of a piece of furniture forming a pattern.
Decoration that protrudes from the surface.
Revival of interest in classical design, beginning in Italy during the 14th century and continuing to spread throughout Europe until the 17th century. Design is simple in structure with a generous use of classical ornament, such as the acanthus leaf, animal forms and pilasters.
Period in French design originating in the 18th century following the Baroque era. An asymmetrical motif, it was often overly ornamental. The name is derived from the French words rocaille (rock) and coquille (shell), which are prominent rococo decorative elements.
Prized for its exotic and beautifully figured appearance, rosewood was a favourite among upscale cabinet makers of the 18th and 19th centuries. Unlike more common woods, rosewood is exceptionally dense, rich in colour and very receptive to a high polish. Hailing from tropical forests of India and Brazil, rosewood got its name not from its appearance, but from the aroma of the freshly cut trees. Neo-classical furniture makers like Thomas Chippendale preferred rosewood to any other variety for his incredible furnishings. Brazilian rosewood was the preferred choice of 19th-century furniture makers as well. Today, rosewood pieces are highly sought after by antique connoisseurs.
Complete set of matched furniture for a specific room. Also called a suite.
An urn with a spigot at its base used especially in Russia to boil water for tea.
A rectangular, coffin-shaped box tapering to a smaller size at the bottom. Can be used as a cellaret or tea caddy.
Pale in colour and silky in appearance, satinwood became increasingly popular in Britain during the 1770s, replacing mahogany as the wood of choice for smaller pieces of furniture. A brilliant yellow wood with a high lustre, satinwood often has a rippled or quilted feature from which its name is derived. Typically, satinwood is used as a veneer and it remained popular in England throughout the late 18th and 19th centuries.
A semi-circular shell with ridges radiating from a point at the bottom. This ornamental motif was common in furniture design during the Queen Anne and Georgian periods in England and America. It was also extensively used in the early Spanish Renaissance.
A bracketed wall-light comprising a decorative back plate and candleholders. Very fashionable from the late 17th century. Rococo versions are often called girandoles.
Broken pediment with each half shaped in the form of a reverse curve, and ending in an ornamental scroll. Usually a finial is placed in the centre between the two halves.
Furniture decoration shaped like an s-curve
Winding and curving design often used in furniture legs or on the front of cabinets or desk.
One of the most popular ornamental motifs found on inlaid pieces as the name suggest in the form of a shell.
Sheraton 1750-1806, an English cabinetmaker who name has been given to a school of design in English furniture. Using mahogany as his dominant wood, he followed the classic, simple design in the wake of Adam and Hepplewhite.
A chair back fashioned in the shape of a shield. Common in Hepplewhite designs.
A long, large piece of dining-room furniture with a flat top and sometimes a superstructure for displaying china and glass. The body is a storage unit, composed of drawers, sometimes flanked on each side by cabinets with doors.
The flat central support on a chair’s back or between the seat and the top-rail.
A term used in connection with silverware, indicating that the silver is 92.5 percent pure.
A hybrid of earthenware and porcelain, made of clay and a fusible substance, such as sand or flint. It is not porous after firing.
Strengthening or stabilising rail which runs horizontal between furniture legs, often forming X, H or Y shapes.
A decorative inlay in the form of fine lines.
Desk lamp of metal, usually brass, having a tubular shaft and either one or two arms. Shades are of opaque glass usually in dark green or white.
Called a chest-on-chest until the 18th century, this high chest-of-drawers has more drawers below than on top.
The Tantalus is a cellaret with decanters tucked inside, their contents visible but not obtainable without a key. The name derived from the Greek myth of Tantalos, son of Zeus and King of Lydia. Tantalos was admitted to the society of the gods, but his abominable behaviour aroused their anger leading Zeus to condemn him to suffer eternally in Tartarus. As punishment, Tantalos was forced to stand neck-deep in water, which receded from him when he would attempt to drink. Over his head hung the bough of a fruit tree that the wind wafted away whenever he tried to grasp them. It is from his name that the word tantalise also originated.
A heavy hand-woven fabric panel, often used as a wall decoration. Aubusson weavers are renowned for their fine tapestries.
A small Oriental cup without a handle, also made widely in Europe (with a saucer) in the 18th century.
A decorative box created for storing tea leaves, many with two compartments one for black tea and the other for green tea. Some of the finest tea caddies created in England were crafted of exotic woods, adorned with tortoise shell, ivory and mother-of-pearl.
Wood from Burma, Java, the East Indies, Siam, French Indochina, and has been planted successfully in the Philippines. A strong, tough wood, it ranges in colour from light tawny yellow to dark brown. Slightly oily.
An 18th or 19th century jug representing a seated Englishman with three-cornered hat and mug of ale.
Often used as an inlay or a decorative overlay on wood surfaces, tortoiseshell is a mottled, nutty brown shell material with a spotted, striped or sometimes even speckled pattern.
Decoration or mark applied to a ceramic ware underneath a transparent glaze.
The affixing of a thin layer or strips of fine wood to the surface of a piece of furniture.
A spiral scroll.
The sack like strapping used to support upholstered seats.
An orange to dark brown wood with variegated stripes and a straight, fine grain. Used for high-quality veneers and available only in small quantities.