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 My Granny's Attic Antiques and Collectibles & Custom Gifts - Antiques Collectibles Kitsch   How To Value Your Antiques & Collectibles Resources and Reference  Antique Glossary 3 

Definitions for Antique and Collectible Related Words - Glossary


I will be adding to this continually, so if there is a word that you are curious about please let me know and I will get it posted here eventually. I have tried to post words that you will not find in most places.





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LADDER BACK: A chair with a series of horizontal slats on the back.

LAMBREQUINS: The name given to forms of lace like decoration used on Dresden porcelain. Also refers to Baroque border pattern of lacework, scrolls and scallops.

LATTEN: A very old term for brass.

LEAD CRYSTAL: A particularly clear and brilliant glass which has had lead added to it during the manufacturing process. It was first discovered circa 1676. When thumped lead crystal rings like a bell or you can wet your finger and run it around the rim of a glass and hear it "sing." Of course either of this might cause your crystal piece to shatter.

LEEDS YORKS: A famous pottery founded in Leeds in 1760 by the Green Brothers. They manufactured fine creamware, pierced decoration was common. Backstamp - Hartley Greens & Co also Leeds Pottery.

LIMOGES: A generic term used for porcelain produced in the vicinity of Limoges, France. A large number of porcelain manufacturer's have produced in this region over time most of which were unrelated. Haviland is the best known of these.

LION'S PAW FOOT: The foot on furniture that is carved into a lion's paw. This is commonly seen on 18th century and Regency style furniture.

LITHOGRAPHY:  A method of polychrome printing in which a design is drawn in ink on a stone surface and transferred to paper. Lithographic prints were also used to decorate ceramics.

LITHOPANE:  A thin, low relief porcelain plaque that reveals a picture when held up to the light. Also called a "Berlin Transparency."

LITHYALIN GLASS:  A type of glass patented by Friedrich Egermann in Bohemia in 1829. Intended to imitate hard stones, it is opaque and usually marbled.

LONGTON HALL:(soft paste porcelain). Founded in 1750 by William Jenkinson. Characteristics of this porcelain are a deep blue used as a ground sometimes painted over in opaque white enamel. Also paintings with roses showing a quivering outline and a border design in relief of strawberries and leaves. The porcelain is very heavy and very glassy with a green translucency showing many imperfections, rather like some Swansea porcelain. The figurines produced at this factory can be identified by poses of a half turning to the right or left. The bases are scrolled and lined in red the dress of the figures show stars and motifs and not flowers. Gold or gilding was never a strong point.

LOO TABLE: A large Victorian game or card table.

LOVING CUP:  A two handled cup generally urn shaped.

LOWBOY:  An American term for a small dressing table.

LOWBROW:  A late 19th century china head doll with short, curly hair worn low on the forehead.

LOWESTOFT: Started in 1757. Lowestoft specialized in tableware, normally decorated in pseudo Chinese patterns in under glaze blue or enamels. There is a similarity to Bow Porcelain. Both factories used bone ash. Characteristics of this factory are wedge shaped foot rims and marks in blue inside the footrims. Meissen and Worcester backstamps were copied.

LUG SOUP:  See Onion soup bowl ...

LUSTRE / LUSTER: Many lusters were fashionable. Perhaps the most popular were pink and purple luster closely followed by copper and gold. Silver was fine when used as a resist, that is, resembling a pattern. However, the use of all over silver to resemble actual silver tableware, was a disaster aesthetically speaking. Also with handling, the silver often wore off to reveal awful bare patches. You don't find many pieces of silver luster in good condition. NOTE - I have a Sadler silver lustre pitcher that is amazing and I love it.

LUSTERWARE: A metallic glaze put on china and ceramic to give the piece a nice shimmer. This effect was first done by the Noritake Company in the 1920's , since then many companies have copied this technique.

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MAJOLICA: A corruption of the term "maiolica," this was the most wonderful deeply colored and moving works of art in ceramics. At first the term was restricted to tin-enameled wares decorated with metallic lusters. The body, usually buff in color and porous, was dipped in the liquid enamel preparation and after drying the decoration was painted on the absorbent surface. The ware was then covered with the glaze and fired which fixed the colors. The earliest example of this ware that is known was executed by Luca Della Robbia in 1438. Strictly speaking the term should only be applied to Italian wares, although it is often used to describe other wares decorated in the Italian manner. Majolica became intensely popular in Victorian days as it was used for mythical items, tableware of every description, huge vases and seats in gardens also immense jardinieres. Some of the best Majolica was made by Faenza (Italian), Gubbio (Italian), George Jones of Staffordshire, Minton (UK) and Urbino (Italian) and George Jones of Staffordshire.

MAKI-E:  "Sprinkled Illustration" A Japanese decorative technique of sprinling gold or colored filings onto a design in wet lacquer.

MARRIED:  A term used when an item of furniture is made-up of two or more pieces usually from the same period.

MARTELE: A French term for silverware with a fine hammered surface which was first produced and later revived by Gorham and Co. during the Art Nouveau period.

MARTHA GUNN: Female Toby jug modeled in the likeness of the famous Brighton bathing woman. 1727 - 1815.

MARQUETRY: The use of wood and other inlays to form decorative patterns.

MARRIED: A term used, most often in furniture, when a piece is made up of more than one piece from the same period. Ie; you have the top of a hoosier cabinet and the bottom is really a dresser. They look good together and you might never know that they don't match…. Unless you know your stuff.

MASON: Famous potters of Staffordshire and Liverpool. Their ironstone pottery and the decoration in Gaudy or Japan colors, was and still is, a firm favorite with many collectors. Their ironstone china was patented in 1813 by Charles James Mason. The backstamp usually says Masons.

MATCHSAFE:  The American term for vesta box.

MATCHSTRICKERS: These were little highly glazed ornaments made in Germany showing scenes of children at play etc. They had a ribbed area, normally on the back, for striking the Vestas on (old word for matches) also there was normally a receptacle like a small pocket for holding the Vestas or matches.

MEIPING: A Chinese term for a type of inverted pear-shaped vase.

MILK GLASS:  A term for glass made with tin oxide which turns to an opaque white when fired. Was developed in late 15th century Venice. Also called white glass or opaque glass.

MILLEFIORI:  "Thousand Flowers" This is a glassmaking technique whereby canes of colored glass are arranged in bundles so that the cross section creates a pattern. This is commonly seen in paperweights.

MINTON, THOMAS: Originally apprenticed at Caughley. Minton worked for Spode and it was there that he began formulating the idea of setting up his own pottery and porcelain factory, which he did in 1796 at Stoke. At first he made only pottery with a focus on the blue printed wares. However, it is his fine porcelain that he later created that was so exceptional and the hand painted wares he produced will ever be a constant source of delight to collectors worldwide.

MOCHA WARE: Decorated wares with fern like or tree effects. Made from about 1780 - 1914. So named after Mocha Quartz. It is generally thinner and more easily broken than yellow ware.

MODERNISM: Style of the 1920s and 1930s which was inspired by the need to break from the past and to express the spirit of the new machine age. It rejects ornamentation in favor of geometric forms and lines.

MOONS: Spots of higher translucency often seen in porcelain. This effect is caused by air bubbles in the firing process.

MOREEN:  An inexpensive imitation in wool or cotton of moire silk.

MOTE SPOON: A spoon with a pierced bowl for skimming tea leaves and a tapered handle for unclogging the spout of the teapot.

MULE CHEST:  Chest with drawers in the base. It was the forerunner to the chest of drawers.


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NAPPY:  In dinnerware, a round, uncovered vegetable bowl. In glassware a nappy is any round or square dish from fruit sized or up used for various serving purposes. Nappy's often have a small little handle that sits on one side.

NASRIDS:  The last ruling Muslim dynasty in Spain, 1232 - 1492.

NEO-CLASSICISM:  Mid to late 18th century style of architecture and decoration based on the forms of ancient Greece and Rome. Elements include; garlands, palmettes, vases, urns, key patterns and mythical creatures.

NANKIN China: Blue and white porcelain of the late 18th and 19th century which was shipped from Nanking.

NETSUKE: Decorative little toggles, often in the form of a carved ivory or wood figure, for securing personal possessions in Japanese dress. Usually, a purse or other item suspended by a cord from the obi or sash.

NIELLO:  A compound of silver, lead, copper and sulphur applied to metal and fired to produce a lustrous black surface.

NOTTINGHAM STONEWARE POTTERY: From the late 17th century to about 1800, originally made thinly potted wares. Decoration was usually pierced and incised

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  O ...

OGEE:  A shallow, double S-shaped curve.

ON GLAZE: Decoration applied after the wares were glazed and fired. Also called "Over the glaze."

OPAQUE CHINA: Name applied to certain pottery. Victorian potteries called their wares opaque in an attempt to entice the buying public away from porcelain. The pottery was finer but never truly opaque.

ONION PATTERN, BLUE ONION PATTERN:  A popular decorative pattern in blue underglaze produced by many factories including Meissen and Wedgwood, from the 18th century to present.

ONION SOUP BOWL:  It has handles or small tabs, like little ears that come off of each side, instead of pieced handles. It is about the size of an oatmeal bowl, slightly larger than a cream soup bowl.

OPALINE GLASS:  A translucent white (opalescent)glass made with oxides and bone ash. When held up to the light it reveals a red or yellow tint "fire."

OPEN HEAD:  An open-crowned head covered with a pate, either cork or cardboard, with the wig attached. This is found on most bisque dolls.

OPEN MOUTH:  Parted lips of a doll which are really open.

OREGON SILVER:  Trade name used on silverplated English wares after 1800s.

ORMOLU:  "Gilt Bronze" A gilded, brass like alloy of tin, copper and zinc used for decoration on fine furniture.


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PALISSY, BERNARD: French potter who began as an artist but after experimenting with glazes became famous as a potter, many items were made in relief. He is mainly known for the items he made encrusted with snakes, lizards, shells, fish etc., the glazes were in brown, green, yellow etc. Palissy was eventually imprisoned in the Bastille and died there in 1590. Copies of his work are now generically known as Palissy ware.

PALLADIAN STYLE:  Classical style of architecture as interpreted by the Italian architect andrea Palladion (1508-1580)in his work "Quattro Libri". Palladianism was introduced into England in the 1730s by Lord Burlington and William Kent.

PALMETTE:  A decorative Classical motif based on the fan-shaped leaf of a palm tree.

PAP DISH: A shallow boat type dish with a tube spout for feeding babies and invalids.

PARDOE: 1770-1823. Porcelain painter of great fame, worked at Derby, Worcester and Bristol. Also worked at the Nantgarw Porcelain factory in Glamorganshire, Wales See also Nantgarw.

PARIAN / PARIAN WARE: Or Statuary Porcelain. Very fine grained waxy porcelain made of feldspar and looks somewhat like white marble from the Greek island of Paros. It was first made in 1840 by both Copeland and Minton. It was exhibited at the Crystal Palace exhibitions in London and New York. The American's loved it and it was quickly established as a favorite. Mainly used for portraits, busts and ornaments of mythical and Greek Gods and Goddesses. It has a semi-matte finish and does not require a glaze.

PARURE:  A matching set of jewelry madeup of a necklace, earrings and brooch. A demi-parure is the matching earrings and brooch.

PASTILLE BURNERS: In the days of poor sanitation and over crowded urban areas Pastille Burners were an early form of room fresheners. They are lidded containers into which were placed fragrant oils, charcoal, scented tapers etc, and when lit would emit a fragrance that would scent the overcrowded Victorian common spaces and Victorian homes. These are now widely collected right alongside Staffordshire figures.

PATE:  The crown piece found under the wig that covers the hole in the top of a doll's head. It can be made of cork, cardboard or plaster.

PATE-DE-VERRE:  "Glass Paste" A transluscent glass created by melting and applying powdered glass in layers or by casting it in a mold.


PEARLWARE: A white variety of creamware pottery introduced by Josiah Wedgwood as Queen's Ware in 1779.

PEW GROUPS: Salt glazed stoneware groups seated in "pews" or benches. These are a form of early Staffordshire figure groups attributed to the Wood family.

PICKLE TRAY: A small oval platter generally about 9" long used for serving pickles.

PINXTON: This Derbyshire factory dated approx. 1793 - 1813 was started with the technical help of the famous William Billingsley of Nantgarw fame. The porcelain was very fine and translucent. The yellow ground color is always associated with Pinxton.

PLYMOUTH: In 1768 William Cooksworthy took out a patent for hard paste porcelain. His factory works was then moved to Bristol in 1770. The defects found on this porcelain were many, such as discoloration, firing cracks, warping etc. The enamels were painted in a dirty looking color and often in relief. The bases of the figures were often Rococo and a deep red used as color on them.

PORCELAIN: Is made from hard-paste or soft-paste. It is a ware that is highly vitrified and is sometimes hard to tell from glass. Some porcelain is thin and translucent. Hotel ware is made from porcelain as are bath fixtures. You cannot see through heavy porcelains. There are different degrees of hardness to porcelain. American potteries use the term loosely calling porcelain what was really semi-porcelain. Hard paste is made from kaolin and other ingredients and soft paste is made from bone ash and other materials. Most factories had their own formula varying from poor to excellent. Paste is just another term for the materials used to make the body of the ware.

PORRINGER: A particular style of pewter handled bowl. Child's basin for porridge or soup.

POTTERY: This is earthenware, not translucent like porcelain when held over a light.

PIN MARKS: Small depressions or marks, usually 3, left on the underside of a glazed piece from where it was sitting on the pins in the kiln during firing. These are not considered defects.

PRINTING or TRANSFER PRINTING - AKA TRANSFER WARE: On pottery or porcelain carried out by inking an engraved metal plate. An impression is then taken onto thin paper and applied to the item being decorated. The engraving while still wet from the ink is then transferred onto the item. The item would have already been glazed, and when it is fired the printing sinks into the glaze to form the smooth outer coating. First used in London, England 1753,then in Worcester and Liverpool. Printing in blue was achieved by a similar process but before the application of the glaze to the items. This blue transfer printing invention was first done at Worcester.

PUNCH BOWL: Large container or basin for holding hot punch. Made in ceramic, glass or metal including silver.

PUZZLE JUG: Jug made in pottery, the neck being perforated with holes and 3 or 4 spouts would be added that were inter joined by tubes. The idea was to attempt to empty the vessel without spilling the contents.

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QUADRUPLE PLATE SILVER:  Four times dipped silver. This is a silver plated not sterling silver. There is also a Triple Plate which is dipped... you guessed it, three times.

QUEEN'S WARE: Cream colored pottery invented by Wedgwood and named after Queen Charlotte, the wife of George the 3rd. The term is used pretty indiscriminately by potters to indicate a grade of white earthenware for dining room services that are one grade higher than cream colored ware. They are made of superior materials with the body being stained a slight cobalt to give it a bluish cast.


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