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Glossary of Antique Terms
Page 1

Acanthus leaf A long, narrow feathery leaf derived from a plant indigenous to the Mediterranean, found in ancient Greek & Roman, Renaissance, Baroque and Neoclassical art and architecture.

Anthemion An ancient Greek motif based on the honeysuckle flower.

Apron A horizontal section under the top of a table, on the bottom edge of the façade of a case piece, or on the bottom edge of the front seat rail of a chair. Sometimes shaped. Also known as a skirt.

Baluster A vase-shaped support. A row of balusters surmounted by a handrail is called a balustrade.

Belleek An eggshell-thin porcelain with an iridescent clear glaze.

Bohemian-style glass Another term for overlay glass.

Boss A small projecting ornament that is oval or round in form.

Britannia metal A silver-white alloy composed of copper, antimony, and tin.

Cabriole leg An S-shaped leg, typically terminating in a pad, slipper, paw, scroll or claw-and-ball foot.

Cartouche An ornamental device consisting of a tablet, sometimes bearing a coat of arms, surrounded by an elaborate frame.

Caryatid A column-like support in the form of a classical female figure.

Cased glass A type of layered glass in which the outer layer is blown first and then another layer is blown inside.

Caster A small wheel attached to the bottom of the leg of a chair, table or case piece to facilitate movement. Typically made of wood, brass or porcelain.

Center table A table made to stand in the middle of a room.

Chasing Decoration in low relief, achieved by hammering the silver or silverplate from the outside. In the process of hammering, the metal bulges forth slightly.

Coin silver Silver that is 900 to 1000 parts (90%) silver.

Console table A table with only two or three legs that must be secured to a wall for additional support.

Cornice A horizontal molding crowning a case piece.

Diaperwork Repeating pattern of diamonds.

Ebonized A term describing wood that has been stained in imitation of ebony.

Embossing Decoration in high relief, achieved by hammering the silver from the inside. In the process of hammering, the metal is pushed out to form the ornamental motifs. Also known as repoussé.

Enamel Colored glaze used to decorate ceramics. Also applies to a colored glass paste used to decorate metal or glass.

Engraving Decoration of thin lines cut into the surface of silver.

EPNS Initials standing for “Electro-Plated Nickel Silver.”

Escutcheon Frame around a keyhole in a drawer or cupboard door.

Étagère A set of shelves used for the display of decorative objects. Sometimes made to stand in a corner of a room. Usually the shelves graduate in size.

Fainting couch A Victorian day bed or chaise lounge.

Festoon A garland of fruits, flowers or leaves suspended from two points.

Flashed glass A type of layered glass in which a thin outer layer is blown over the exterior.

Flat chasing Low-relief (slightly raised) decoration on silver.

Flint -enamel ware Pottery covered with a streaky glaze in colors of blue, green, and brown.

Fluting Parallel, vertical, concave channels derived from a classical column.

Gadrooning A continuous band of parallel narrow, bulging, ovoid forms.

Gentleman’s chair A large armchair made for the gentleman in the Victorian household.

Gilding Gold decoration on furniture, ceramics, glass or metal.

Girandoles A set of matched candle fixtures made to stand on a mantelpiece, usually consisting of two candlesticks and a candelabrum. Typically made of gilt bronze or brass and hung with cut-glass prisms.

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