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Glossary of Antique terms A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z
Gadrooning - (Furniture, Silver) Gadrooning is convex curves in a series used as an ornament carved on the edge of furniture and silver. There are two types of Gadrooning, upright and waved.
Gallery – (Furniture) A rail or rim of fretwork or bars at the back of sideboard tops or surrounding tabletops.
Gallipot - (Ceramic) Small jar or bowl, usually with handle, used by apothecaries.
Gardner, Francis - (Ceramics ,Porcelain, Russia) Englishman who founded a porcelain factory in Moscow c. 1758.
Garnish - (Metal, Pewter) Strictly, a complete set of pewter comprising a dozen platters, a dozen bowls and a dozen small plates; but the term is also used to indicate a set of plates and dishes generally.
Garniture de Cheminee - (Ceramics, Porcelain) Set of five porcelain vases, two beakers and three with covers. First made in China and copied by European factories in the eighteenth century. This term is also used for a procelain clock flanked by two to four matching porcelain pieces.
Gate-leg - (Furniture) Term applied to an oval (sometimes round) table with drop leaves and extra legs on hinges at either side which swing out to support the raised leaves. This style was very popular in oak tables.
Gather - (Glass, Term) The blob of molten glass that the glass-blower 'gathers' on the end of his blowpipe.
Georgian Period - (English Period) The Georgian Period is divided into three parts, Early Georgian Period - George I - 1714 - 1727, Mid-Georgian Period - George II - 1727 - 1760, Late Georgian Period - George III - 1760 - 1811. There was a George the IV, V, & VI, but only the first three King Georges reigned during the Georgian Period.
Gesso - (Furniture, Art, Frames) A preparation of chalk worked into a paste with parchment size, used as priming before colouring or gilding furniture. In the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries the gesso coat on mirrors, side-tables (and more rarely seat furniture) received low relief carving before gilding.
Ghiordes Rugs - (Floor Coverings) Turkish, multi-coloured, often with floral designs, the warp and weft sometimes of silk.
Gibbons, Grinling - (Sculptor, Wood Carver) (1648-1720) Sculptor and wood-carver, born in Holland but emigrated to England in reign of Charles II; was employed in the royal palaces of Windsor, Whitehall and Kensington and other great houses. He was noted for his ornate carving-wreaths, swags, pendants, elaborate acanthus leaves, cherubs' heads, animals and other figures, all with extreme delicacy of touch. Some of his best work may be seen in the choir-stalls of St Paul's.
Gilding - (Decoration, Fine Art, Ceramics) Decorating an items accent points with a thin layer of gold. The extreme malleability of gold permits a thin skin of it to be fixed to a plaster ground. The two chief methods of gilding with gold leaf are Water gilding and Oil gilding. Water gilding is applied over a ground of sizing and whiting to which a paste of red clay and parchment size has been added. When dry, the surface is made wet and the gold leaf applied. In oil gilding the piece is painted with gold size, left on for some hours, and the gold leaf applied when still tacky. The surface is then spirit-varnished with sizing.
Giles, James - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Decorator, England) Eighteenth-century decorator of ceramics. Much Worcester porcelain was painted by Giles in his London workshop.
Gillow, Robert - Furniture, Cabinet Maker, England) (?-1772): English cabinet-maker, established in Lancaster 1724, transferred to London 1756. His son, Richard, is credited with the invention of the modern telescopic dining-table, c. 1800.
Gimmal - (Jewelry) A finger ring so constructed that it can be divided into two (occasionally three) rings.
Gimmel - (Glass) Twin glass flask (the two bottles blown individually and fused together) with two spouts which usually face in opposite directions; much made at Nailsea, but dates back to the seventeenth century, perhaps earlier.
Giobu - (Lacquer, Japan) Japanese lacquering technique which gives a mottled effect.
Girandole - (Metal, Lighting, Jewelry) (1) French term for wall-light or elaborate candlestick. In the trade catalogues of the second half of the eighteenth century, elaborate wall-lights, often with a mirror back-plate, are described as girandoles. (2) Ear-ring or pendant comprising a large central stone from which hang small ones.
Glass - (Glass) A brittle lustrous substance made by fusing silica (sand) to which has been added a flux such as soda or potash. The main characteristics of glass are that in its molten state, when it is sticky like honey, it can be easily fashioned, it can be drawn out into threads as thin as a hair, it can be blown like a bubble, and it welds easily and inseparably. It is easy to colour. An Egyptian or Syrian invention, glass-making dates back to at least 2500 B.C.; it was valued at first because it could be made to approximate precious stones; vessels of considerable aesthetic appeal were made as early as 1500 s.c. The blow-pipe was invented during the first century B.C. The Romans made excellent glass in every part of their empire. In the Near East glass of a high artistic standard continued to be made throughout the 'dark ages'; there seems to have been a continuing tradition, too, in areas of northern Europe round the Rhine and the Seine. But the great revival in Europe was to take place at Venice and, to a lesser extent, at Altare, near Genoa. By the thirteenth century the Venetians were supreme, at first with coloured glass, then painted enamel glass, millefiori, aventurine, 'ice-glass', the superb cristallo, latticino.
English Glass - (Glass) Some crude domestic glass was probably made after the Roman withdrawal, but even by the twelfth century most stained window-glass was imported from France. For fine table glass England had to await the arrival of Giacomo Verzelini and his band of Venetian workmen in 1571. After a troubled start he acquired royal patronage when, in 1575, Queen Elizabeth granted him a licence 'to make drinking glasses in the manner of Murano, on the undertaking that he bring up in the said art and knowledge our natural subjects'. Verzelini kept to the bargain and during the twenty years that followed made much fine glass and a good deal of money and won a great deal of respect. But he did not create an industry; this feat was performed by Sir Robert Mansell who held the monopoly from 1618 till the advent of Cromwell. Mansell brought prices down; he welcomed new ideas and processes, the making of mirrors, of wine bottles; he encouraged coal-mining to provide his industry with fuel. After the artist and the business man came the technologist, George Ravenscroft, who first made flint glass, the celebrated 'glass of lead', about 1675. Though it could not be blown as thin as the Venetian cristallo it was more durable, its softness lent itself to deep cutting, and it had a greater brilliance and richness. It was a glass that was to allow the English genius its full expression. It enabled England to become an exporter and by the end of the seventeenth century some 100 glass-houses were making lead glass. London, Bristol, Stourbridge, Birmingham, Newcastle upon Tyne, and other centres, were in the glass business. (See particularly Drinking Glasses for later developments.)
German Glass - (Glass) In the Middle Ages Waldglas was the staple, green, brown, yellow, design evolving from low, Roman shapes to tall, vertical Gothic. The great German glassmaking centres were Bohemia, Saxony, Silesia, Potsdam. Painting with enamels dates from the sixteenth century, particularly in Bohemia and Saxony. Like the English, Germanic glass-workers strove to make their own equivalent of the Venetian cristallo, and about 1680 a new formula was discovered, in Bohemia, which brought success. Chalk was added to the mix and potash replaced soda; the resultant glass was suited to deep cutting and had a hard brilliance. By the beginning of the eighteenth century engraving of a high artistic standard was being done in Bohemia, Silesia and Potsdam. Opaque-white became popular about this time.
Dutch Glass - (Glass) As German till the early seventeenth century when many Venetian glass-workers settled in Holland where the Italian styles were to be later influenced by German and English techniques. The great Dutch and Flemish contribution to glass-making was in the excellence of their engraved decoration; whether working with diamond point or wheel their work, at its best, has never been surpassed. Much of it was done on English-made glass; stipple-point engraving was notable in the latter half of the eighteenth century and, indeed, well into the nineteenth century.
French Glass - (Glass) The French, undisputed masters of stainedglass making in the Middle Ages, contributed little to domestic wares. The Italians made cristallo at Paris, Rouen, and particularly at Nevers; but the French themselves did not participate and were for centuries content to import enormous quantities of glass from Germany and England. However, it was a Frenchman, Bernard Perrot, who invented plate glass at the end of the seventeenth century. And in the nineteenth century the French did more than any other race to evolve new forms and revive old ones: pate de verre (glass paste), decoration in relief, the blending of soft colours, the influence of Japanese art.
American Glass - (Glass) Made from the beginning of the seventeenth century. Glass was manufactured on Manhattan Island from 1645. The bottle was all during the eighteenth century, and is to the American collector what the drinking glass is to his English counterpart. 'Baron' Stiegel, a German who went to America in 1750, probably made the first flint glass in the New World c. 1765. He was a financial failure, but his name in 'Stiegel glass' has become generic for early American glass. Pressed glass was an American invention, being first made about 1827, reputedly by Enoch Robinson.
Glastonbury Chair - (Furniture) Chair with X-shaped supports, the upper extensions of which form the arms and link with the back. The term derives from Glastonbury Abbey.
Glaze - (Ceramics) A glass-like substance, usually containing lead, applied as a thin skin to the surface of most pottery and porcelain.
Glider Rocker – (Furniture) A swinging chair raised from a frame so that it glides back and forth in a gliding motion. The front and back of the seat swings from different points. The seat stays nearly level as it moves to and fro, hence the word glider. The motion of rocking makes some people seasick. Glider Rockers can also rock. Gliders were invented in 1889 and advertised in the Ladies Home Journal. The first glider form was an outdoor couch to sit on the porch.
Gobelins - (Fextiles, Tapestry) Gobelin was the family name of Belgian dyers who migrated to Paris in the fifteenth century, establishing a tannery and later a tapestry manufactory. This and several other Parisian workshops were united in 1667 by Jean Baptiste Colbert, a Minister of Louis XIV, to form a manufacture royale under the direction of Charles Le Brun. Le Brun was an excellent artist and personally designed some of the cartoons for the superb tapestries produced. Under Le Brun and other directors (notably Oudry) Gobelins retained its great reputation until the late eighteenth century.
Godet - (Glass, Pottery) Obsolete term for a drinking cup or jug.
Going-cart - (Furniture) A 'baby cage' on wheels for teaching a child to walk; made from the Middle Ages and quite common in England by the seventeenth century where they were popular till the end of the eighteenth century.
Gombron Ware - (Ceramics, Term) European term for pottery and porcelain from Persia and China in which the walls of bowls and the like were pierced and filled in with a translucent glaze. Gombron was a port on the Persian Gulf from which the wares were shipped to Europe.
Gorham, Jabez - (Silversmith)(1792 - 1869) Founder of the Gorham Silver Corporation in 1818.
Gorham Silver Corporation - (Silversmith) One of the largest firms of silversmiths in the United Sates. Founded around 1818 by Jabez Gorham in Providence Rhode Island. They are still in business today and produce fine Hollowware The Factory expanded in 1841 when they introduced mechanical methods for producing solid silver wares. They hired Thomas J. Pairpoint (Sculptor, Silversmith, Glass) from an English Silversmith in 1841 to be the Chief Designer for Gorham. They hired English Silversmith's Francis Lambert (Silversmith) and William Rawlings (Silversmith) in 1868 to be the chief designers. This is the same year that Gorham adopted the United States Sterling Silver Standard of 925/1000. William Codman (Silversmith) also English, was hired around 1900 as chief designer. He designed individual hand-wrought Art Nouveau pieces that were marketed under the name Martele.
Gosu Blue - (Japanese Ceramics) Gosu blue, a highly saturated blue glaze. The technique of Gosu blue was developed in the nineteenth century. Gosu Blue Glaze is a typical color glaze in the decoration of Satsuma ware.
Gothic - (Style, Furniture, Architecture) The style of architecture, of which the pointed arch is preponderantly typical, that prevailed from the twelfth to the sixteenth century in Europe and which influence is to be seen in furniture and metalware of that time. There was a Gothic revival in England in the second quarter of the eighteenth century (it co-existed rather strangely side by side with Chinoiserie, and the Rococo) and this influence is to be seen at its strongest in some of the furniture designs of Chippendale. There was a second Gothic revival in Victorian times. When the result of the Gothic influence is too awful the word is often spelt with a 'k' on the end.
Gout Stool - (Furniture) Foot stool, usually of the X-frame type, for the afflicted, for whom such stools were specifically made in the Georgian period.
Graham, George - (Clocks) (?1673-1751): English horologist who succeeded Tompion as the foremost clock-maker of his day; invented the dead beat escapement (c. 1715), the cylinder escapement for watches (c. 1725), the mercury pendulum (c. 1726).
Grainger, Thomas - (Ceramics, Porcelain) Founded early in the nineteenth century a porcelain factory at Worcester which traded as Grainger, Lee & Co. and made porcelains in the style of Chamberlain. In 1889 the factory was taken over by the Royal Worcester Co.
Graining - (Furniture, Decoration) This process of painting a cheap wood to reproduce the grain, colour, texture and figure of a more esteemed and costly wood goes back (in England) at least to Elizabethan times when oak and walnut were thus counterfeited. The practice continues.
Grain-of-rice - (Ceramics, Porcelain) Ceramic decoration as found on Gombron ware and practised by Persian and Chinese potters.
Grandfather Clock - (Clocks) Nineteenth-century name for a long-case clock.
Grandmother Clock - (Clocks) A small long-case clock.
Grand Sonnerie Striking - (Clocks) A sequence of clock striking that strikes the quarters and the hour at every quarter.
Grate - (Hearth Accessories) This item of chimney furniture became necessary when coal came into use, and though few examples exist earlier than the mid-eighteenth century the grate was known at the beginning of the seventeenth. The basket-grate, of iron or steel, was usual till the late eighteenth century when the hob-grate came into favour, at which both types were made till well into 'the nineteenth century.
Graviata - (Porcelain Decoration Chinese) Graviata is an uncolored surface covering decoration etched or incised into the enameled white, yellow, green, pink or blue monochrome ground - but not through it - to the paste beneath. The designs can be feathery, scrolling leaf-like patterns or can be wave-like designs. Graviata was used on the underside of rims on Qing dynasty Imperial wares. This type of decoration was common as surface covering decoration on the enameled background of "Peking"-bowls.
Greek Key - (Design) An ornamental pattern consisting of repeated vertical and horizontal lines, often in relief.
Grisaille Painting - (Furniture, Decoration) in grey to represent objects in relief (e.g. the medallions on painted furniture).
Ground – (Ceramics) Shortened term for background of decoration on ceramic piece.
Guangxu – (Chinese) Emperor Guangxu was emperor of China during the Qing Dynasty from 1875 to 1908
Gubbio - (Ceramics, Pottery, Italy) Important maiolica centre in Urbino, Italy, being famed in the sixteenth century for lustre wares. Ruby and golden lustres of great brilliance were the specialties.
Gueridon, also Gueridon Table - (Furniture) A slender piece of furniture for supporting a light such as a candelabrum. The name is said to have been that of a Moorish galley-slave and early Gueridons were made in the form of a negro figure.
Guernsey Pottery Company - (Ceramics, Pottery, United States) Formally the Cambridge Pottery. Cambridge pottery was made in Cambridge, Ohio starting in 1895. The Cambridge Pottery Company made brown glazed art pottery. The pottery had many marks including OTOE, OAKWOOD, CAMBRIDGE, TERRHEA. In 1904 the company changed is name to Guernsey Pottery Company and started making a line of dinnerware until 1918.
Guilloche - (Furniture, Decoration) Ornament consisting of two or more intersecting curved bands twisting over each other and repeating the same figure in a continued series.
Gumley, John - (Furniture, Glass, Mirrors, England) Glass- and cabinet-maker active in London from the 1690's to the 1720's who was particularly noted for his mirrors (there is one at Hampton Court). Cabinet-maker to George I.
Gun-makers Marks - (Weapons) The testing of barrels to ensure a standard of safety, 'proof-firing', was entrusted to the Gunmakers' Company of London in 1637. There are two kinds of small proof mark, both headed by a crown. The letter 'v' on the first mark means 'viewed after the first test'; the letters 'Gr' on the second mark stand for 'Gun-makers' Proof'.
Guri - (Japanese Lacquer) Deeply incised lacquer. Deep V-shaped cuts are carved in layers of lacquer of varying colors, usually in repeating sequences of yellow, green, red, and black.
Gyobu Nashiji - (Japanese Lacquer) Dense aventurine. Nashiji in which the metal flakes are larger and more irregular than ordinary and are individually set into the wet lacquer, rather than sprinkled, minimizing the spaces between the flakes. In some cases the Nashiji is first covered with gold leaf.