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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 

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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 R ...

RED WARE:  A course, porous, lightly fired pottery similar to common brick. some pieces are crudely decorated and very few are marked. It is found glazed or unglazed. Bottoms of pieces are generally not glazed. Practically all pieces are utilitarian-type except an occasional plate made for a special occasion. Not all pieces made of clay are considered red ware. red clay can be burned to a stoneware consistency. Old style red ware is still being made by a few studio potters today.

REGISTRY MARKS: Appearing on English china between 1842 - 67 and 1868 - 83. The mark will show as a lozenge or triangle type design, with added code letters and numerals. The deciphering of the actual dates is done by using the registry of marks.

RELIEF DECORATION: Molded to the actual body as raised areas in "relief" from the main body. This is sometimes called Bas Relief.

REPOUSSE: Decorations put on in high relief.

RESIST LUSTRE: See lusterware.

RIDGWAY: Very important Staffordshire factory established at Hanley and then Cauldon Place, Shelton from 1812. Ridgway were makers of pottery and porcelain. 

ROCKINGHAM: The Rockingham works produced some of the most elaborate and fanciful of porcelain. Founded near Swinton in Yorkshire in 1750,later moved to Leeds, 1787 to 1806. After this date it passed to the Bramheld family. The griffin was one of the marks they used.

ROSSO ANTICO: A term used by Wedgwood to describe his red stoneware.

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SALT GLAZED STONEWARE: Stoneware in which the glaze is formed by throwing salt into the kilns while at the highest possible temperature. The salt decomposes forming sodium oxide and hydrochloric acid, this forms a coating of glass.

SAMSON of Paris: Famous porcelain factory originally made famous by its beautiful copies of Chinese porcelain and also the copies they made of great porcelain works such as Meissen, Nantgarw, Chelsea, Derby etc. Each item was said to have had a "S" painted onto the decoration, but it is hard to find.

SEMI-PORCELAIN:  A term that covers lightly fires, easily chipped dishes to ones that are not well vitrified but are still vitrified enough to be called porcelain. Semi-porcelain has a dull body under the glaze when it is chipped versus porcelain which has a shiny body under the glaze.

SEMI-VITREOUS:  A type of dinnerware about halfway between china and earthenware in appearance and durability.

SERIGRAPHY: The exacting serigraph process (also knows as silk-screening) is a time honored hand printing technique, based on stenciling, Ink or paint is carefully brushed through a fine fabric screen, portions of which have been masked for impermeability. For each color, a different portion of the screen must be masked, and each color must be allowed to dry before the next is applied. The depth of color in the resulting fine art serigraph is almost luminous.

SGRAFFITO: The cutting away or the scratching through a coating of slip to expose the color of the underlying body. Usually the color underneath is darker than the slip color. The slip is red, dark brown or yellow. Used in S.Wales, Devon , Somerset and Staffordshire. Also, a term used to define any incised pattern.

SHEFFIELD PLATE: Old Sheffield. Perhaps the most misunderstood term in the antique and silver industry is "Sheffield Plate." Silver pieces described as or marked "Sheffield" can leave a false impression of origin and age. To clarify the confusion, we first define the three categories of silver involving "Sheffield". These are Sterling Silver made in Sheffield, Old Sheffield Plate, and Sheffield Plated.

 In England, the word "plate" means solid silver or sterling silver; thus, silver (sterling) made in Sheffield is of high quality and bears the appropriate "hallmarks." A hallmark is a mark used in England to stamp gold and silver articles that meet established standards of purity. The marks for sterling are easily found and defined in most hallmark books.

 The second category, "Old Sheffield Plate," refers to a process discovered around 1790, in which a sheet of copper is fused to a thinner sheet of sterling silver. The pieces produced, primarily hollowware, are sometimes marked. These would be made by premier Sheffield manufacturers, but, ironically, are never marked using the word "Sheffield." For example, Matthew Boulton uses two stars next to each other as his mark, Crestwicks uses a diamond shaped crossing pattern, and James Dixon & Sons uses an initial with a symbol [d*s]. This industry lasted for about 40 years. There are three ways to identify "Old Sheffield Plate."

Closely examine the edges of the upper rim and the base to find the seam where the metal has been folded over. Any applied border, handles, or feet will usually have a seam that indicates a layer of silver has been lapped over or "sandwiched". Look for a square, round, or rectangular "shadow" around any engraved crests or initials. The shadow is the outline of a piece of solid sterling silver, which is inlaid to prevent the copper from showing through when a family crest is engraved. Look at the inside of vessels and the underside of trays for a grayish coating of tin. This is the case in some of the earlier pieces. The unsightly copper on the inside of these pieces was coated with a layer of tin. The tin, usually unfinished, is distinguishable by its pewter-like color.

  The third category, Sheffield Plated, refers to items made of any combination of metals, but primarily copper. These pieces are electroplated with a layer of silver . They are marked with a variety of hallmarks that sometimes resemble English sterling marks. Some manufacturers use the word Sheffield in their name or in the marking of their wares. Silver electroplated pieces made in England will naturally be stamped "Sheffield" or "Made in Sheffield." Even though the pieces are electroplated on copper, they are not "Old Sheffield Plate."

SIBERIAN SILVER:  Silver on copper wares made in England by Hayman and Co. circa late 1800s.

SILVER PLATE: Articles made of a non-precious metal on which is deposited pure silver by electroplating.

SLIP: A clay watered down to a creamy consistency and used as decoration to earthenwares in lines or dots.

SOFT PASTE PORCELAIN: This is the term usually applied to porcelain made in Great Britain. It is a softer porcelain mixture, but the French also made soft paste porcelain.

SPODE, JOSIAH: Very famous English potter(y) started in 1770 in Stoke on Trent, his son carried on the family tradition and introduced porcelain in 1810. Spode is considered the inventor of bone china. W. J. Copeland became a partner in 1813 and Manager in 1829. Some of the very finest English pottery and porcelain was made at Spode. The modern works are now owned by the Royal Worcester factory. The most famous of Spode's patterns was and is the Blue Italian

SPONGEWARE: Patterns found on pottery that were applied to the glaze with the use of sponges by untrained pottery assistants.

STAFFORDSHIRE: A) Famous Pottery area of Great Britain renowned for hundreds of Victorian potteries, many are still in existence today, including very famous named potteries like Royal Doulton and Wedgwood.

STAFFORDSHIRES: B) Popular Victorian name for Staffordshire ornaments, these are larger than Fairings and made in Britain from around the beginning of the 1800s to the early part of the 20th century. Staffordshire figures are a complex and difficult area for the beginner to master as there has been a constant reproducing of these ornaments, even up to the present time. Staffordshire figures represented a pictorial view of old England as seen through the eyes of uneducated ,working class people. There were Staffordshire figures of Kings and Queens, famous Army Generals, murderers, sporting scenes, farming scenes, circus and entertainers and so on with the list being endless.

STEREOGRAPH:  These stereo cards are 2 separate images on one card that when placed into a stereo viewer the images superimpose and offer a 3-D view or image. Also known as stereo cards, were first issued in the United States on glass and in 1858 they appeared in the more familiar paper format. Stereograph's froze in time most important events, place, comic situations, people and natural scenes from the late 1850s through the 1930's. View through a stereo scope was the most popular was to view news and events until it was replaced by movies, TV, magazines and radio.

STERLING SILVER: Pure silver is too soft to use along so copper is added to give sterling silver its stiffness and wearing qualities. It is composed of 925 parts pure silver to every 1000, this proportion never varies, it is fixed by law. American adopted this standard in 1890. This applies to British sterling silver as well. Ireland adopted the standard in 1720.

STONEWARE: A more refined clay burned at a high temperature to make a water resistant non-porous ware. Old stoneware was gray to yellowish brown in color. It was refined and lightened in color for utilitarian wares and called stone china which was gray or cream colored. Stoneware is still in use to make vases and other decorative objects. Salt glazed items are often stoneware.

SUNDERLAND: Situated in Durham, famous for it's purple and pink splashed lusters, ship wall plaques, sailing jugs and bowls. Inscriptions were common on many wares and related in most instances to the sea and the Mariners..

SWANSEA: Glamorganshire, Wales, Great Britain. The famous Cambrian Pottery was started here in 1765 and run by the Dillwyn family in the main. Some of the best porcelain ever produced and painted to the highest standard was made at Swansea. There was also other potteries in the area, notably the Glamorgan Pottery producing good quality tablewares, also the Llanelly pottery situated near Swansea, the Ynysmedw pottery and the Dyvatty pottery. William Billingsley worked at the Cambrian factory, and transferred his Nantgarw Porcelain here for a short while.

SWANSEA COTTAGE: The old Welsh name for Gaudy Welsh China.


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 T ...

"T" MARKS: Probably the initial for the modeler Thibaud at Bow, Bristol and Plymouth.

TINGLAZE: Lead glaze made opaque by the addition of tin ashes.

TOBY JUGS: Jugs shaped like a man, and originally named after Toby Fillpot the nickname of a noted toper, said to have served as the original model. Sometimes especially on the earlier Toby jugs, the tricorn hats form the detachable lids. The best ones were made by Ralph Woods. Toby Jugs are very popular with collectors worldwide.

TOFT: A name incised on very early English pottery.

TORTE PLATE:  A glass serving plate for sandwiches, cake or cold meat. Comparable to a chop plate in dinnerware it ranges from size of 12" to 20".

TRANSFER PRINTED / TRANSFER WARE: Scenes transferred onto white unglazed china before the firing process.

TRIPLE PLATE SILVER:  Three times dipped silver. This is a silver plated not sterling silver. There is also a Quadruple Plate which is dipped... you guessed it, four times.


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UNDERGLAZE COLORS: Only a few metallic oxides notably Cobalt can stand the high temperature of the glaze firing. Manganese purple was sometimes used.

UNDERGLAZE DECORATION: The decal or other decoration is applied to the greenware or biscuit and the glaze is applied over it. It is then fired.

UTILITARIAN POTTERY: See functional....

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 V ...

VASA MURRHINA GLASS:  Made by the Vasa Murrihina Art Glass Co. Sandwich, Massachusetts in 1884. This glass has a body which is transparent and shows imbedded pieces of colored glass and mica flakes. This is being reproduces.

VASART GLASS:  Made in Scotland by the Streathearn Glass Co. It is usually engraved with the Vasart name on the bottom of the piece.

VASELINE GLASS OR CANARY GLASS:  A greenish-yellow glass that looks like petroleum jelly. It was first made in 1870 but is still being made. Vaseline glass will glow a wonderful lime green color under a blacklight too.

VENETIAN GLASS:  Often confused with Carnival Glass due to its iridescence. Venetian Glass was made 700 years earlier on an island near Venice, Italy. It is usually colored and very fragile. The company was government owned and continued in operation through the early 1900s.

VERGE: The point at which the sides of the dish turn up from the well.

VERLYS GLASS:  Made in France in the 1930s and also by Heisey in the U.S. It is a blown and molded glass. The Heisey produces pieces are marked with a diamond scratched name the that produced in France has a molded signature.

VICAR and MOSES: The duo represented in the famous Staffordshire group showing a clergyman asleep in the pulpit and the parish clerk conducting the service. First made by Ralph Woods of BURSLEM.

VICTORIAN PERIOD: Was divided into three sections because of the unusually long reign of Queen Victoria, 1837-1901. Therefore you will see Early, Middle and Late Victorian, these are terms applied to Furniture and ceramics. Other Periods that are older than Victorian , can be called, Elizabethan, Carolean, Queen Anne, William and Mary, Georgian. etc.

VITRIFIED: A term which applies to the hardness of the ware or how easily it will break, how much pressure or heat it will stand. The more glass material added to the clay and the hotter it is heated, the more vitrified a ware becomes.

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WALL POCKET: Flower vase designed in a wide variety of shapes, lying flat to the wall. Stylized Face masks were very popular in the Art Deco period 1920-1939.

WASH SETS:  A pitcher and large bowl, usually with a toothbrush holder, small pitcher for hot water and a soap holder. These were used in the days before running water aka indoor plumbing. You would often have a washstand to hold your wash set. Some were run-of-the-mill as far as manufacturer and styling, they were made of ironstone and not very decorative but some were made by Haviland or other highly decorative manufacturer's.

WASSAIL BOWL: 2 handled Loving cups passed one to the other at weddings and all village get-together's.

WATERFORD GLASS:  First made in Ireland in 1729. It was first a flint type glass with a dark color prior to the 1930s. After that the formula was improved upon and the color of the glass became more brilliant and white. Waterford closed down in 1852 but did reopen and is still in production.

WAVE CREST GLASS OR WAVE CREST WARE:  Started circa 1890 by C.C. Monroe Co. in Meriden, CT. They bought their blanks overseas and also from the Pairpoint Mfg. Co. All of their wares were formed from an opaque white glass, blown into shape in full-sized molds. Wave Crest used 5 different marks or backstamps on their wares; Black Mark - Wave Crest; Red Banner Mark - Wave Crest on a pennant, The C.P.M. Co.; Kelva-; Nakara - Nakara C.F.M. Co. on a paper label and Wave Crest Ware Pat. Applied For.

WEBB GLASS:  Made by Thomas Webb and Sons in Stourbridge, England. Often considered the finest glass in the world. This is heavily reproduced.

WEDGEWOOD, JOSIAH, 1730 - 95, Entered into partnership with Thomas Wheildon in 1754. Wedgwood was the Master of all potters and the hallmark of quality. Famous for his Jasperware, Queensware, Basalt etc. In 1768 he built a new factory at Etruria. The Wedgewood family carried on with the great pottery tradition adding porcelain only in the 20th century to their vast array of pottery products. Wedgewood was/is one of the easiest of wares to be recognized as nearly all were backstamped Wedgewood. Not to be confused with Enoch Wedgewood, another Staffordshire pottery of lesser fame but nevertheless a good Staffordshire pottery. Enoch Wedgewood shows a Unicorn with their backstamp.

WELL: The bottom of a dish, it is generally flat.

WHIELDON, THOMAS: 1719 -1795. One of the foremost potters of his day from Fenton in Staffordshire, England. Manufactured all types of wares. Famous for his agate , marble, tortoiseshell, Astbury and Jackfield wares in earthenware showing dappled colored glazes..

WILLOW PATTERN or WILLOW WARE: Blue printed pseudo Chinese pattern that was first made in England in 1772 then in American in 1880. Willow Ware was made in every quality from fine china by Spode and Minton to dimestore variety. It can be found in dark blue, light blue, pink, green and red. Chinese legend says that two escaping lovers were turned into doves.

WITCH BALLS:  Colored glass balls believed to ward off evil. From the early 1820s until the 1890s it was believed that hanging a witch ball in the window would ward off evil then the daily wiping with a soft cloth would wipe the evil away. Do not confuse these with the heavier color glass fishing net floats

WOOD, RALPH: 1715 - 1772 Very famous Staffordshire potter and modeler. See Toby Jugs.

WORCESTER: Very famous factory founded in 1751. The porcelain is grayish green under light with a hard looking tight glaze which often shrinks away from the foot rim. The earliest painting is distinguished by Chinoiseries in polychrome enamels or under glaze blue. In 1769 ex Chelsea painters worked at Worcester and the more elaborate style dates from this period with exotic birds and figures in panels on colored ground blue, claret, turquoise, apple green and lilac shades. The most frequent pattern being on pale blue or dark blue ground. By 1780 classical designs were introduced. Landscapes and figure subjects were much favored. Blue and white porcelain was extensively produced, painted and printed. In 1783 the factory was bought by Thomas Flight. Martin Barr was also taken into partnership and the Barr, Flight and Barr names were applied to the periods from 1807 - 1840. Another important Worcester associate was Robert Chamberlain who in 1783 left the factory and set up as a decorator. He produced a grayish porcelain and his work is notable for the profuse gilding and the wares decorated in the Japanese taste.

Next we have the Thomas Grainger era, who at first in 1801 decorated porcelain obtained elsewhere, but subsequently manufactured a fine white and translucent porcelain

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YELLOWARE: Utility ware molds such as baking dishes of cream or buff clays with a transparent glaze in buff and yellow variations. It is finer than pottery or redware but coarser than earthenware or stoneware.

YORKSHIRE: Trailed and marble slipware was made at Howcans, Swill Hill, Burton in Lonsdale, Midhope also at Leeds, Don Pottery, Castleford and Ferrybridge.




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Sources: Antiques and Current Prices Warmans 1972

Miller's Encyclopedia of Antiques

Know Your Antiques and Collectibles (a book in process by Michelle Staley)

Lehner's Encyclopedia of U.S. Marks on Pottery, Porcelain & Clay by Lois Lehner



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