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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  Definitions for Antique Terms 

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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 A ...

ABADEH: Highly colored Persian rug.

ACACIA: Dull yellow hardwood with darker markings used for inlay and banding's in antique furniture and woodenware toward the end of the 18th century.

AFRICAN SILVER: English silver plate after 1850 by Hills, Monke and Co.

AGATE: Agateware were wares made in imitation of this stone. They consist of different colored clays with the colors going right through the body of the piece, or their colors were achieved by means of colored clays on the surface of plain pottery.

ALL-BISQUE: Antique Doll, usually quite small (under 8") that is made entirely of bisque parts.  Most all-bisque dolls are from the late 1800s and early 1900s, to about 1930. Kestner and Simon and Halbig made many of these dolls; but other antique doll manufacturer's did too. Most of these dolls were made in Germany, but some very early dolls were made in France, with a few later dolls made in Japan.

ALLEN, Robert: 1744-1835, An artist at the Lowestoft porcelain factory in Suffolk County.

AMBOYNA: West Indian wood used for veneers, marquetry and inlays. It is light brown with speckled grain.

AN HUA: Secret decoration. Faint engraving or painting in white slip, visible only against the light, found especially on early MING and 18th Century white porcelain. This type of decoration is found often in the bottom of tea cups, these are often 19th century pieces.

APPLIED: Attached or added, rather than modeled or carved as part of the body. Most often seen in glass bottles and jars as in an applied neck.

APPLIED EARS: Ears applied to a doll AFTER the mold for the head has been poured (The ears are molded separately then "applied" to the doll's head before the head is put in the kiln).

ART PERIODS AND TERMS ; Follow this link to Art Periods and Terms

APRON: The decorative panel of wood between the front legs of a cabinet of chair.

ARCANIST: Workmen knowing the secret of pottery making in general and also of porcelain.

ARCANUM: Chemical composition and technique of porcelain making.

ART DECO: The art deco period was from the 1920's to the 1930's. It got its name from the 1925 Paris Exhibition. The art deco period reflected the optimistic atmosphere following the devastation of World War 1. The Art Deco period was exemplified by the rise of jazz music, the liberation of women (no corsets), the preoccupation with speed, travel and leisure.

ART NOUVEAU STYLE: Art Nouveau aka Tiffany Style had its roots in the British Aesthetic and Arts and Crafts movements. The style first took form in Belgium c. 1892-3 and then spread to France at the end of the 19th century. Art Nouveau was on the decline around 1914 when art deco began to surface. The basic inspiration for Art Nouveau motifs was the natural world and the female form.

ART POTTERY: Also called Studio ware.

ASH: Hardwood used for making country furniture and white veneers.

ASTBURY: ASTBURY, WHIELDON - A family of Staffordshire potters. Also called Astbury type. A classification of Staffordshire pottery in which red and white clays are combined under a transparent lead glaze. Similar wares covered by a glaze splashed with metallic oxides are generally styled.

ASTRAGAL: Small semi-circular molding, particularly used as glazing bar in furniture.

AUTOMATA OR AUTOMATON: The production of simple mechanism automata dolls and characters began in the early 19th century. They "Golden Age" of automata was from 1880 - 1920. This is when the elaborate and sophisticated automata were produced. Automata are dolls that move when wound with a key. The best of these came out of Paris. The more complex and original the movement the higher the price. Note: I have a doll in my collection that moves her eyes and tongue when wound up with a key in her side, she is unmarked.

AUTOMATON CLOCK: A clock where the strike is performed by mechanically operated figures.


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BPOE:  Benevolent and Protective Order of Elks

BALL JOINTED: Common method of jointing composition doll bodies; uses little wood "balls" at joints for movement.

BAMBOO WARES: A variety of stoneware, darker in tint than the cane ware introduced by Josiah Wedgwood in 1770.

BASALTS: The name given by Wedgwood to his fine quality black stoneware introduced in 1766.

BASALTWARE: Unglazed stoneware usually black with a dull gloss.

BAXTER,THOMAS: 1782-1821, Famous Porcelain Painter who worked independently and also at Worcester and Swansea. He painted figures, landscapes, shells and flowers.

BEAR JUG: Modeled in the form of a bear hugging a dog. The detachable head serves as a cup 18th century. Made in Staffordshire, England and Nottingham.

BÉBÉ: Term commonly used to describe French antique dolls representing small children.

BELLARMINE: Big bellied stoneware bottle or flagon often with a bearded mask in relief, named after Cardinal Bellarmine made in the 16th century. Used in magic and witchcraft. Also called graybeards. Made in Germany.

BELLEEK: A very light feldspathic porcelain cast in molds with a lustrous pearly glaze. Invented by William Goss of Stoke on Trent, England. Improved by Bromley at the Irish Factory of D. McBirney, founded 1857 at Belleek.

BELL RINGERS JUGS: Jugs for serving ale to bell ringers in the Church tower.

BEVEL: Decorative, shaved edge of glass such as on the rim or a mirror.

BEZEL: The metal rim of a glass cover or jewel.

BILLINGSLEY,WILLIAM: 1758 - 1828, One of the most famous British porcelain painters and makers. Mostly remembered for his Nantgarw Porcelain factory that he founded. He learned to paint at Derby(1775-96) then he went to Pinxton, Mansfield, Swansea and Worcester. In 1813 he founded the great Nantgarw factory and it was there that his famous porcelain was first made using his secret recipe. Billingsley was a wonderful painter of roses, and his work is highly sought after. Some of his pieces bring amazing sums of money as it is now quite rare. The Nantgarw porcelain works is still in S.Wales and is open daily as a museum.

BIRCH: Hardwood used mainly for low quality veneers.

BIRD CALL: A pottery whistle that was sometimes placed inside old chimneys to ward off evil spirits.

BIRD'S EYE MAPLE: Wood of the sugar maple with distinctive pattern caused by aborted buds . Used in veneers.

BISCUIT or BISQUE: Unglazed porcelain or earthenware which is often used for figurines and statues because of the Neo-classic look. It is also used for doll heads. This is fired in the kiln only once.

BLACK EGYPTIAN: An unglazed fine grained black stoneware perfected by Wedgwood in 1769 and imitated by other potteries. Decorated in relief, also gilded and enameled.

BLANC DE CHINE: The porcelain known as Blanc de Chine was made at Te - Hua in the province of Fukien. The white china varies from a bluish white to a deep ivory. First manufactured in the Ming dynasty 1368-1644. Normally found as figures of the numerous Gods of the Buddhist faith.

BLANCO SOPRA BIANCO: An opaque white pigment used for decorating a tin glaze of slightly contrasted color.

BLUE-DASH: Blue dabs around the rim of a delftware plate.

BLUE ONION PATTERN: See Onion Pattern.

BLUE AND WHITE PORCELAIN AND POTTERY: Decoration with cobalt blue under the glaze has proved over the years to be both attractive and economical requiring one firing only. The Chinese excelled in this type of porcelain manufacturing although the later export wares did not have the clarity of the earlier dynastic blue and white wares. Staffordshire in England became the center of excellence for British blue and white pottery and porcelain. The most famous transfer pattern was the willow pattern that is still as popular today as it has ever been.

BOCAGE: Foliage, bushes and shrubs supporting, surrounding or standing behind porcelain or pottery figures.

BODY: The materials from which potters clay is made, the ware itself.

BONE CHINA OR BONE ASH: The white ashes of bones were used first in Bow porcelain about 1750. Bone china is clay with bone ash in the formula, almost entirely porcelain. A very fine porcelain manufactured primarily in England. It is very translucent and strong.

BONHEUR du JOUR: Small lady's writing desk with a cabinet and drawers above. Originally French, from the mid-eighteenth century.

BOOK VALUE: The value of your antiques and collectibles in a price guide; NOT the value you can expect to receive when you sell your antique dolls or other antiques or collectibles. I personally refer to this as an insurance replacement price. Also, please note that a Book Value is generally for an item in excellent condition, antiques and collectibles of lesser condition are valued accordingly.

BOURNE and CO: Famous stoneware potters originally from Codnor Park, England and later Denby from 1812.

BOW: The famous British Bow factory started around 1745. The 1st patent was taken out by Heylyn and Thomas Frye. The factory specialized in utilitarian wares but are remembered mainly for the exquisite figurines produced there. The porcelain is always of a creamy color with some black peppering. The early wares were decorated by applied molded sprigs. The colors used in the painting process were a rose purple and opaque light blue. Also imitation famillie rose colors were used. A lot of Bow porcelain was painted outside of the factory by independent painters. Some transfer painting was employed using russet and purple black colors. Bow figures are distinguished by the neatness of the head, rather small and well defined. They are very heavy and often have a square cut behind for the ormolu additions. Later in the history of this factory pink and a watery green was replaced by a darker translucent color.

BRAZIL SILVER:  Globe Nevada Silver Works, Birmingham, England. On a nickel silverware that has not been silver plated.

BREAKFRONT: Describes a piece of furniture with a central section that projects forward. Most often used in the dining area of the home.

BREVETÉ: The French word for "patented." Sometimes abbreviated to Bte. or B.T.E.; can be found stamped on antique dolls.

BRISTOL DELFTWARES: Early Bristol ware was Delftware from about 1650 -1750. It was founded by Southwark potters. Early Bristol Delftware is difficult to distinguish from Lambeth, and also from Liverpool. Bristol though often has a blue lavender tone and the early red is applied in relief. Puzzle jugs and flower bricks pierced with a square hole at the top and standing on 4 bracket feet were also made in Bristol.

BRISTOL GLASS: 18th Century colored glass produced in Bristol, usually blue in color. Many Victorian glassware are incorrectly referred to as Bristol glass.

BRISTOL HARD PASTE PORCELAIN: In 1770 the Plymouth factory moved to Bristol and the factory and the rights were bought by Richard Champion. Utilitarian wares were very well made showing excellent painting techniques often in relief using overglaze enamels. Figurines were also made, showing a rock work base. Biscuit plaques with applied flowers framing portraits and coats of arms were a specialty of this factory. Marks were often an imitation of the great Meissen blue crossed swords in under glaze blue or gray.

BRITANNIA METAL: Form of refined pewter used as a silver substitute in the early 19th century. Usually made of 10 parts tin and 1 part antimony.

BRITISH PLATE: Silver substitute from the 19th century preceding the introduction of EPNS.

BROKEN PEDIMENT: A pediment with a symmetrical break in the center, often accommodating an urn or similar motif.

BUTLER FINISH: Grey Finish or French Grey - The care of silverware was one of the duties assigned to the butler. Over the course of years of hand rubbing the silverware took on a distinct luster which today in modern Sterling in simulated by a process of manufacture known as "Butler Finish."

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CABRIOLE LEG: S-shaped leg of a piece of furniture that curves out at the foot and in at the top. Introduced in the 17th century.

CANTERBURY: An 18th century container for holding sheet music.

CARPET BALLS: Used for carpet bowls, a game played by wealthy aristocratic families in the Victorian era. They were made of stoneware in solid colors, striped and flower patterns.

CASTLEFORD WARE: A Yorkshire pottery founded in 1790 by D.Dunderdale. Best known for white unglazed relief decorated stoneware usually called Castleford. They also made black basalt wares.

CAUGHLEY: Shropshire based factory was bought by Turner in 1772, but later took over by Coalport. The wares were mainly blue and white, often printed in the Worcester manner. Caughley used 2 shades of blue.

CELADON WARES: Feldspathic glaze characteristically pale gray or blue green in color derived from iron. Celadon was exported from areas of China in the Sung and the Ming dynasties. Ching dynasty wares generally differ in their white porcelain bodies, even glaze and careful finish.

CELLULOID: The first plastic used to make dolls and toys, highly flammable and usually quite thin. Even though it was patented in the US, it was used mostly by European doll makers. From 1873 - 1930 the Rhineland Rubber and Celluloid Co. produced celluloid dolls modeled after babies and children. Quickly German doll manufacturer's followed suit; 1816 - 1930 Kestner & Co.; 1886 - 1940 Kammer & Reinhardt. Then the French company Jumeau began production from 1842 - 1899. Most of these dolls were modeled after dolls already created in bisque.

CHARACTER DOLL: Doll made to look like a living child or adult (and not stylized like most earlier dolls from the 1800s); term popularized in the beginning of the 1900s.

CHELSEA: Soft paste porcelain England. 1745 -1784. The finest and most significant 18th century English porcelain. The earliest wares were called the Triangle Period. The porcelain was of a white milky glass. Small flower sprays were painted to conceal blemishes in the porcelain and also Meissen type flowers were sometimes added in enamels. In the next period, known as the raised anchor period, the use of the painted decoration was greatly extended. The Japanese Kakiemon style was also being copied. Again, the Meissen style was seen with elaborate floral painting and harbor scenes. Bird figures were also made. The succeeding red anchor period produced more skillful artistry in purple monochrome also botanical flowers under glaze blue was used but rarely. Characteristics of the useful wares were 3 small projecting spur marks within a ground down foot rim. Tureens and dishes simulating birds, animals and vegetables were much favored. However the most notable items produced at this time were beyond question the wonderful figurines. The figurines may be divided into mythological and abstract, eg; sciences and seasons, also hunting and pastoral life, comedy, characters and exotic subjects. They were exquisitely modeled and restrained in color so as to reveal the wonderful porcelain. In 1758 bone ash was introduced into the mixture and the frequently crazed glaze tends to run into glassy greenish pools, the grinding of the foot rims carried on into this period. In this the Gold Anchor period, we see ever increasing sumptuousness colored Mazarine blue, pea green, turquoise and claret were copied from Sevres and gilding was lavishly used. Elaborate rococo scrollwork was used on the figures and vases. Japanese patterns resembling elaborate designs continued to be a great favorite. In 1769 the factory was sold, and in 1770 it passed into the ownership of Willhimina Duesbury and Heath of Derby.

CHIEN WARE: This production of Fulien Province during the Sung Dynasty consisted principally of small conical tea bowls.

CHIFFONNIER: Side cupboard, originally, in the 18th century, with solid doors but later it could be found with latticed and glass doors.

CHILL: Earthenware oil lamp shaped like a large candlestick.

CHINA: Glazed porcelain used for making dolls heads, figurines and dishes. It is not as fine as porcelain, you cannot see through it when held up to the light. See Bone China.

CHINA DOGS: Mantelpiece ornaments made in Staffordshire England in the form of spaniels, Welsh sheep dogs, French poodles, Greyhounds. They were made in earthenware and sold extensively in Wales, Staffordshire and the West Country. Rarely marked with the maker's names.

CHINOISERIE: Wonderful decoration in gold, silver and colors depicting an exotic scene with Chinese figures, flowers and birds and animals, usually on lacquered furniture and artifacts.

CIRCA or "C": Placed in front of a date, means that the item can be dated to ten years either side of that date.

CLOSED MOUTH: Doll sculpted so that the mouth is closed with no teeth showing. Prized by collectors of bisque antique dolls, who prefer the closed mouth dolls to the open mouth dolls.

COALPORT: A famous factory started by John Rose at Jackfield in 1780 and shortly afterwards it moved to Coalport almost opposite the Caughley factory. The Swansea and Nantgarw stocks were bought up in 1819-24 and William Billingsley was hired. The porcelain changed after this period becoming white and translucent like Welsh porcelain. Most of Coalport's decoration was done by independent decorator's. Lavishly applied flowers, bright green enameling, light colored gilding and flower decorations washed over in colors.

COIN SILVER: Sterling is 925/1000 parts pure silver and is a legally enforceable standard. Coin is more variable the purity of metal matching, in theory, that of contemporary currency. Occasionally, during periods of shortage, coins were literally used as metal stock, especially in the colonial era. Because of the multiplicity of coinage in use, it has varied from 835/1000 to 925/1000. It was never an enforceable standard like sterling, but was a means for silversmiths, lacking a national standard of assay, to assure clients of the quality of their silver. By the 1820s, with flat-rolled silver stock readily available, it became an arbitrary benchmark set at 900/1000 and remained so until the British sterling standard was adopted by Gorham, Tiffany, and others in the 1850s.

COMPOSITION: A mixture of wood pulp, sawdust, glue and similar items which is used to make bodies for antique dolls and also for entire dolls (head and body) during this century until the advent of hard plastic dolls. In Europe they used rags, bones and eggs to reinforce the composition. Composition can be damaged by water and is vulnerable to flaking and crazing. A few of the collectible US dolls made from composition were Deanna Durbin, Shirley Temple and Betty Boop. Other items made from composition - the relief work around antique mirrors and frames, these are then gilded or painted.


COTTAGES: Staffordshire pastille burners and mantelpiece ornaments much favored in Victorian days for necessary use as well as ornamental appeal.

CRAZING: Network of fine cracks in the glaze of porcelain and china caused by unequal shrinkage of body and glaze. Can appear because of inferior glaze, inadequate preparation of the greenware, age, humidity or a general change in temperature. NOTE - Anymore you can't go by crazing as a sign of age. Many new items are crazed to look old when they are in fact new items. This is why you need to know your antiques and collectibles.

CREAM SOUP BOWL:  Two-handled soup bowl used with a saucer underneath. Used on an informal table.

CREAMWARE: A lead glazed light body earthenware made of pale clay and usually containing calcified flint. Perfected in Staffordshire, England in 1760 by Wedgwood. Made extensively in England, and enjoyed a world market in the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

CRENELLATED: Crinkly or wavy as in a finish.

CRESTED CHINA: Ware decorated with heraldic crests; originally by Goss, but later many Staffordshire and German potteries were making crested china.

CROCKERY: A term often used synonymously with earthenware, used to describe a porous, opaque body for household use. It is usually glazed due to its porousness.

CUTLERY: Knives with a cutting edge, e.g. dinner, dessert, carving knives.

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D CUP:  A small sized cup used for serving after dinner coffee. These days commonly referred to as an espresso cup, it is about the same size.

D HANDLE: The shape of handles on some coffee cups and other handled wares in the shape of a "D."

DAMASCENE: Inlay of precious metal onto a body of other metal for decorative purposes.

DAVENPORT: Family of potters at Longport, Staffordshire. Made cream colored earthenwares and other earthenware and also later porcelain. Marks are either an anchor or Davenport sometimes both.

DEEP PLATE: This is a rimmed soup bowl. It is used on a formal table. It is generally not deep enough to hold a full can of Campbell's soup, just enough for a smattering of soup in a multi-course meal.

DELFTWARE: 17th and 18th century tin-glazed earthenware, often decorated in the style of Chinese blue and white porcelain or after Dutch 17th century painting, in the style pioneered by the Delft pottery. Refers to British made wares when the "D" is not capitalized.

DELFT WARE: Items of delftware that actually originate from Delft Holland.

DEMI-PARURE:  See Parure

DEP:  Abbreviation of the French "depos" or the German "deponirt," indicating a registered patent used on French and German dolls often appearing as an incised mark on the dolls head.

DERBY: Soft paste porcelain. By 1756 there was a prolific factory established by Wm. Duesbury and John Heath. The figurines made were blatant copies of Meissen, the early wares are characterized by bases having a "dry" edge, bare of glaze and a hole underneath. The figures made around 1870 have a richer palette and gilding. These figures almost always have 3 or 4 dark patches below the base. In 1770 the Chelsea factory was bought-out and the Chelsea style of decorating was abandoned. The figures from this period are called Chelsea -Derby and have weaker modeling, the colors being pink, pale green and a good turquoise. The tablewares were finely potted and very well painted, either classical designs or floral painting. Also at this time striped grounds were combined with miniature paintings of landscapes and classical subjects. The next period 1786 - 1811 was the Crown Derby period. In 1811 the factory was purchased by Bloor and the period is known by his name. Revived Rococo and profuse brassy gilding were used on the old models and Japanese brocaded Imari styles largely superseded the neo-classical styles.

DESSERT KNIVES: The trade name for knives which correspond in size to the dessert fork. A better term would be "small dinner fork" or "luncheon" size.

DINNERWARE: The general term applied to dishes, plates, bowls, candlesticks, pitchers, tea sets and other hollow items, as distinguished from forks, knives, spoons, etc.

DOG (LION) OF FO: Mythical Chinese lion-spaniel, a guardian spirit of the temple of the Buddha (Fo).

DOULTON: Lambeth pottery, stoneware pottery founded in 1818,at this time making mainly industrial brown ware. The excellence of the name coming at a later period.

DOVETAILS: Interlocking joints used in drawers and other joints in furniture making.

DOUTER: Scissor-like implement for extinguishing a candle.

DRESDEN:  A white china usually heavily decorated, originally developed in Dresden, Germany.

DRY-EDGE: With unglazed edges.

DUTCH SILVER: Silverware imported from Holland. Generally very decorative and cast of silver metal very much lower than the Sterling Standard.

DUTY DODGING:  The practice of transposing marks on silver objects to avoid paying duty or taxes on them.

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