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                A to Z Glossary of Antique Terms

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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

                Pacific Islands Bamboo Pipe - (Tobacciana) This type of Bamboo Pipe was made by several different Pacific Island Groups, all of them claiming this style as their own.

                Pad Foot - (Furniture, Foot) The Pad Foot is a type of Dutch Foot. Dutch Foot is a broad term used to describe the type of foot that terminates the cabriole leg. It is characterized by many different profiles which determines the type and name of the Dutch Foot. The Pad Foot is the basic type of Dutch Foot. They have little or no carving, and a flat circular or ovoid bottom. See Foot for Many Different Examples.

                Pagoda - (Architecture, Orientialia, Decorative Motif) The canopied Eastern temple was a favored decorative motif in the middle of the eighteenth century; cabinetmakers used this motif in Chinoiserie.

                Pair-case Watch - (Clocks, Watch) Watch in which the movement is contained in an inner case which in turn fits into an outer, protective case; made from the mid-seventeenth century.

                Pai Ting - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Chinese) The finest creamy-white Ting ware

                Pai Tun Tzu - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Chinese) China stone. See Porcelain.

                Pai Tzu - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Chinese) White porcelain.

                Paktong - (Metal, Chinese) An alloy of copper, nickel and zinc which, when polished, resembles silver. It stood up well to hard wear and was used for many domestic utensils including grates and fenders in the second half of the eighteenth century. The Chinese seem to have been the first to utilize the metal. Also known as Tutenag.

                Palissy, Bernard - (Ceramics, Pottery, Author, Naturalist) (?1510-89) A famous name in European ceramics; is said to have spent sixteen years perfecting an enamel surface on pottery. He succeeded in 1557 when he began to make the remarkable pieces still to be seen in the Louvre, with plants, shells, animals and insects in relief, and covered with colored glazes. A Huguenot, he died in the Bastille.

                Pallet - (Clocks) In an escapement the Pallet is the leaves that actually bed in the teeth of the escape wheel.

                Pallet - (Glass, Tool) The Pallet is a tool used to make the base of a vessel flat. A glassmakers tool that has a square piece of wood or metal and a handle.

                Palm Column Flask - (Glass) A Palm Column Flask is a tall, cylindrical, narrow vessel with stylized palm fronds a the top. They were used as Kohl Tubes, Kohl is a black pigment that ancient Egyptians used to darken the edges of the eyes. This type of flask was made in Egypt in the 18th  and 19th Dynasties (1400 - 1250 BC)

                Palm Cup - (Glass) A Palm Cup is a cup without handles that is held in the palm of the hand.

                Palmette - (Decoration) A Palmette is a decorative motif that resembles a fan or a stylized palm leaf. It originated in Egypt in ancient art and it was also used in Classical Greek architecture. It was adopted by European furniture makers during the Renaissance and the neoclassical style of the late 18th and early 19th Century.

                Palmer, Humphrey - (Pottery, England) Potter of Hanley, active from about 1760, who imitated Wedgwood's basalts, jasper and other wares with considerable success. Towards the end of the 1770's he got into financial difficulties and went into partnership with James Neale.

                Panel - (Furniture) Wooden board or boards, usually horizontal, that are in a framework of grooved rails and stiles to form a panel. A panel may be sunk below the framework or raised above it. A surface framed within a larger surface.

                Pap Boat - (Ceramics, Silver) Bowl with a lip for feeding infants; of silver usually; eighteenth-century examples are to be encountered.

                Paperweight - (Glass) Specimens of millefiori glass were shown at a Paris exhibition in 1844 and the following year paperweights were described as `a new item of trade, the round shaped millefiori paperweights of transparent glass in which are inserted quantities of small tubes of all colors and forms to look like a multitude of florets'. The manufacture of these paperweights in France centered at St Louis, Baccarat and Clichy. In England they were produced at the glass-making towns of Bristol, Stourbridge, Birmingham, London, etc. Examples produced after 1865 tend to be inferior in coloring and quality.

                Papier-Mâché - (Furniture, Materials) French name (=chewed paper) for an English invention. In 1772 Henry Clay of Birmingham patented his process for making `paper ware' from linen rags. A cheaper method of making `papier-mâché Japanese furniture' from rag pulp was patented by Richard Brindley, also of Birmingham, in 1836. Not till the 1860's were both types of furniture known as `papier-mâché'. Clay's ware, handmade, is lighter, perfectly smooth, very tough; Brindley's pressed ware tends to be brittle, and because of this perfect examples are rare. Decoration: the gold is leaf or powder, not paint; pearl shell dates from the 1820's; oil painting from the 30's.

                Parcel-gilt - (Furniture, Decoration) Partially gilt.

                Parian Ware - (Porcelain) Unglazed, vitrified porcelain, with a smooth Stone-like marble feel. The name is derived from antique marble found on Paros Island in Greece. It was  first made by Copeland about 1842 and later by Minton, and also at Belleek. Busts and figures are notable. Parian was an improvement on Derby biscuit porcelain.

                Paris - (Ceramics, Porcelain)  Porcelain so designated should have been made at or near Paris. Quite a number of factories were established in the environs of Paris from the 1770's onwards; most of them made hard-paste porcelain. A few of the better-known: La Courtille, from about 1770, with porcelain in the German manner the speciality; Clignancourt, from 1775, under royal patronage, made Sevres-like wares; Rue Popincourt, from 1782, one of the larger Paris factories, noted for porcelain clock-cases; Fontainebleau, from 1795. The main speciality of the Paris factories seems to have been forging the early products of the more famous French factories.

                Paris Apartment – (Term) a modern term that describes a style from the 1950s. It can apply to Furniture as well as decorative arts. A French looking style after Louis XIV and Marie Antoinette with gold gilding over white, bows, cherubs and more gold gilding.

                Parquetry - (Furniture, Decoration, Flooring) Mosaic of wood applied to a ground in simple geometrical forms. It is a form of decorative veneer and was often used with marquetry. Its use in England dates from the second half of the seventeenth century; it was little used in the first half of the eighteenth century but it came back into favor in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The term also applies to a flooring of small blocks of wood arranged in geometrical patterns.

                Partridge Wood - (Wood) Red-brown Brazilian wood used in parquetry, inlay and veneer.

                Passion Flower - (Oriental Symbolism) Passion Flower symbolism is belief.

                Pastry Fork - (Silver Flatware) has 3 tines rather than 4 tines, with the right tine being wider than the other two. The larger tine is called a cutting tine.

                Pate-de-Verre - (Glass, French) In the nineteenth century the French successfully revived an old glass-making technique which involved the use of powdered glass of several colors which was mixed and re-fired.

                Pate Dare - (Porcelain French) Hard-paste porcelain.

                Paten - (Silver, Religious Item) Small, circular, ecclesiastical plate, usually of silver.

                Patent Leather
                - (Material, Leather) Patent Leather has a smooth, high gloss, very shinny finish. It is called patent leather because there was once a patent on the process of making it. The original process was developed by Newark, New Jersey-based inventor Seth Boyden in 1818 with commercial manufacture beginning September 20, 1819. By 1860, Newark manufactured 90% of America’s patent leather. His process used a linseed oil-based lacquer coating. Modern patent leather usually has a plastic coating. Patent leather can be cleaned free of dirt with a damp cloth, using a mild soap if needed. However the best way to clean it is by rubbing it wit ha raw onion and drying it with a soft cloth, this seems to help restore the original shine. Minor scratches and scuffmarks in the coating itself can be removed using one of several special purpose patent leather cleaners on the market. With wear and tear, patent leather will eventually lose its glossy finish, but will still be smoother than most other types of leather, with a rubbery look. Patent leather is used in applications where a glossy appearance is important. Examples include fashion items such as wallets and handbags, dance and uniform shoes, boots, and trench coats. In recent years patent leather has become a popular material for limited edition sneakers made by companies such Nike, Greedy Genius, and Bape, possible collectibles of the future.

                Patera - (Ornament) Patera is a circular or oval motif decorated in low relief and widely used as an ornament on Neoclassical furniture. (Artifact) A vessel made of earthenware or metal saucer like dish used for libations or sacrifices by the Greeks and Romans.

                Patera Brasses or Handle - (Hardware Furniture) A Patera Handle is a Drawer Pull from the Federal Period (Circa 1776 - 1815). It has an oval form and the bail follow the shape of the bottom of the oval. They made of gold gilded metal and are usually embossed with decorative motifs of flowers or horns.

                Pate-sar-Pate - (Porcelain, French) Meaning clay on clay. Porcelain decoration by means of painting in a white or tinted slip; first used at Sevres about the middle of the nineteenth century and introduced into England by Marc Solon about 1870 when he left the French factory to come and work at Mintons.

                Pate Tendre - (Porcelain, French) Soft-paste porcelain.

                Patina - (Furniture, Metal) (1) The surface condition that comes about by natural means, rubbing, polishing, usage. (2) The oxidized surface condition of bronzes and other metalwork brought about by natural or artificial means.

                Pattern Glass - (Glass) One of the most collectible areas of glassware. Pattern glass is pressed glass that is made in thousands of patterns and many color varieties after the 1890s. Originally made in the 1840s it was call flint glass and had a high lead content until the late 1860s. After the 1860s it was called Non-flint Glass because it no longer had the high lead content. Pattern Glass fell out of favor after World War I before the depression.

                Peach - (Oriental Symbolism) The peach is also known as the "fairy fruit." It was the peach that gave immortality. The peach tree of the Gods was said to blossom once every 3000 years and the fruit of eternal life took another 3000 years to ripen.

                Peach Blossom - (Oriental Symbolism) The peach blossom most common interpretation is love’s captive. Blossoms are particularly auspicious flowers. Coming as they do in spring, they symbolize life, growth, and prosperity. The peach blossom is the most auspicious of all plants, its significance lying in the symbolic importance of the peach. The peach, in Chinese culture, is a symbol of long life, and is regarded as the strongest defense against evil. Should your peach blossom bloom during the New Year celebrations it is sure sign that the year ahead will be one of good fortune. Sprays of peach blossom at one time they were placed above front doors to prevent even the strongest evil spirit from getting into the house. The custom today is to use them as decorations within the house.
                Peacock - (Chinese Symbolism) The Peacock signifies dignity and beauty

                Pear Wood - (Wood) Reddish wood with fine grain; used for marquetry and inlaying.

                Pheasant - (Chinese Symbolism) Ill-omen, believed to turn into an oyster or snake in the first winter month. Connected to seduction and extramarital affairs. The South Gate of the Palace was known as the Pheasant Gate. A golden pheasant with long tail feathers was the symbol of an official in civil service.

                Peche Mortel - (Furniture, French) A couch that is a glorified upholstered arm-chair and stool. A form of the Duchesse

                Pedestal - (Architecture, Furniture) The base of a column in architecture and carried over into furniture in the same sense.
                Pedestal Table - (Furniture) A Pedestal Table is a tabletop that is supported by a single baluster in the middle. The top can be any shape but the most common form is round terminating in three legs. The legs can be any of a number of forms, shapes, or styles depending on the age of the piece.

                Pediment - (Architecture, Furniture)  A triangular structure like a low gable as over a portico in Greek architecture. In furniture, the same structure surmounts the cornices of bookcases, mirrors, cabinets.

                Peg Tankard - (Silver) Silver tankard with a vertical row of pegs or studs inside, these being fitted at regular intervals and intended to measure the amount consumed by communal drinkers. Seventeenth century.

                Pekinese Stitch - (Textile, Embroidery, Chinese) In applying the Pekinese Stitch first, a backstitch is laid down, with stitches that are fairly long and loose. Then, with a blunt needle, the Pekinese Stitch itself is laced through the backstitch segments, going forward two and back through one to form a series of loops. The finished appearance can differ depending upon the kinds of threads or floss used, the size of the stitches, and how firmly the thread is pulled. Among Chinese embroideries, the Pekinese Stitch has been used most often for linear elements, rather than as fillings for large areas. 

                Peking Glass - (Glass Chinese) Although glass was probably made in China from as early as c. 300 BC, most Chinese glass dates from after c.1662, when a glasswork was established in the Forbidden City. Chinese glass was largely used to imitate more precious materials such as white jade, lapis lazuli and other valuable minerals. One surprisingly common item is snuff bottles made in huge numbers as Imperial gifts.

                Pembroke Table - (Furniture) A small table with drop-leaf sides supported by brackets, and usually, a shallow drawer. The name may derive from the Countess of Pembroke; it seems to have been first applied in the 1760's. This piece of furniture, whether as a breakfast table or a lady's work table, was very popular in the late eighteenth century. Both Hepplewhite and Sheraton designed examples.

                Pendent Drawer Pulls - (Hardware, Furniture) A drawer pull that resembles a hanging ornament similar to a pendent necklace. First used in the 17th Century, two types are the Early Drop (1600-1700) and the Queen Ann Drop (1700-1720).

                Pendulum - (Clock) The incorporation of a pendulum in a clock is attributed to a Dutchman, in 1657, though there is some evidence to suggest that Italian clock-makers had done so earlier. Early bob-pendulums are short and, as used with the verge escapement, swung through an arc of 35 to 40 degrees. With the invention of the anchor escapement about 1670 a much longer pendulum became practicable; known as the Royal pendulum, it was 39-1393 inches long and moved through an arc of 4 or S degrees to a one-second beat, thus permitting a second hand and leading to the long-case clock. Early pendulum rods, often of simple iron wire, were liable to expansion and contraction with changes of temperature. Two main improvements, invented about the same time (c. 1726), were the mercury pendulum and the grid-iron pendulum. The former, invented by George Graham, had as a bob a glass jar of mercury suspended from a brass pendulum rod; heat that lengthened the rod also expanded the mercury and thus the centre of oscillation remained constant (and vice versa in cold weather). The grid-iron pendulum of John Harrison is based on the fact that the expansion of brass to steel is in the ratio of 3 to 2; in his pendulum the upper extremities of alternate brass and steel rods, in the aforementioned ratio as regards length, will therefore if joined at their lower ends remain the same distance apart whatever the changes of temperature. Both the mercury and grid-iron pendulum are still in use today. Very rare is the `second-and-a-quarter' pendulum in which the duration of each arc of the swing is 1 1/4 seconds and the pendulum is 5 feet in length: introduced c. 1675, probably by William Clement, but abandoned by the end of the next decade.

                Peony - (Oriental Symbolism) The peony is considered the king of flowers. An omen of good fortune. Emblem of love and affection and feminine beauty, as well as the sign of spring.

                Pergolesi, M. A. - (Designer, Italy) Italian who came to Britain in late 1750's and worked for the Adam brothers. His series of Original Designs (1777-1800) were behind much of the painted furniture of the period.

                Perrott, Humphrey - (Glass) English glass-maker who revolutionized glass manufacture in 1734 by designing a furnace which permitted higher temperatures, greater blast, larger melting pots.

                Petronel - (Weapon) A large pistol with a stock; sixteenth century.

                Petuntse - (Porcelain) China stone. See Porcelain.

                Pewter - (Metal) An alloy of tin with an admixture of another metal usually lead, but sometimes brass or copper. This alloy can be worked by casting, also by turning and hammering. The Romans made pewter of high quality and design. In medieval times the tableware of kings and the nobility was of pewter. In England the Pewterers' Guild was officially recognized in 1348; by the end of the fifteenth century pewter had almost superseded treen (wooden platters); in 1504 marking was made compulsory (the rule much flouted, of course), standards of `London quality' were set. There was much pewter produced in France, Germany and Switzerland from the fourteenth century onwards; the English product is plain compared to most Continental pewter. Though earthenware came into common use in the seventeenth century, pewter held its own till almost the end of the eighteenth century; but Britannia metal (q.v.) killed the art, which, by 1850, was almost extinct, though certain articles such as tankards and measures continued (and continue) to be made.

                Pharmacy Jars - (Metal, Glass, Ceramics) The blue and white jars bearing the names of drugs date from the middle of the seventeenth century; squat tin-enameled jars are usually earlier.

                Pianoforte - (Musical Instruments, Paino) A keyboard instrument in which the strings are struck, not plucked. The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori of Florence in the early years of the eighteenth century. The first English piano was made about 1760: it was small and rectangular and, as regards shape, looked to the virginal and clavichord. This type of piano, four to five feet long, was called the `square' piano and was made in considerable numbers for the remainder of the eighteenth century. The `upright' piano came into favor about 1800, but meantime the `grand', based on the harpsichord shape, had evolved in the 1780's.

                Piano Desk - (Musical Instruments, Piano) A Piano Desk is the Rack or Shelf that hold the written music.

                Pie Crust Table - (Furniture) Round-topped table on a tripod base, the dish-top (q.v.) having a scalloped edge. Made from the mid eighteenth century onwards.

                Pied de Biche - (Furniture) Hoof-foot.

                Pien Yao - (Ceramics Chinese) Ceramics with flambé glaze.

                Pierced Ware - (Pottery, Porcelain) Pottery in which the decoration is pierced right through the ware, a specialty at Leeds from the 1760's, but practiced at many Staffordshire potteries too. The inspiration derives from such decoration on silver.

                Pier Glass - (Mirror) A mirror made to hang in the wall space between windows. Usually in pairs, they were tall and narrow, the frames often gilded and carved. They date from the beginning of the eighteenth century.

                Pier Table - (Furniture) A table meant to stand against the wall between windows. Many are D-shaped. The pier table is a form of side table which, like the pier glass (see last entry), dates from the beginning of the eighteenth century.

                Pilaster - (Architecture, Furniture) A rectangular pillar engaged in a wall and projecting only a fraction of its breadth. Carried over from architecture to furniture, pilasters are employed at corners of bureau, cabinets, etc., also to divide fronts and frame doors.

                Pinchbeck - (Metal)  An alloy (comprising chiefly zinc and copper) of a gold colour invented by the London clock-maker Christopher Pinchbeck, the only Maker of the True and genuine metal, which, it was claimed, was not to be distinguished by the nicest eye from real gold. It was used for many small items in the eighteenth century.

                Pinewood - (Wood) Timber from a genus of resin-producing trees, having a straight grain and being easy to work. Little used before the Restoration, it was employed for carcase work in veneer furniture and for such carved and gilt furniture as picture frames and cabinet-stands. During the eighteenth century it was used a good deal for carvers' pieces.

                Pinxton - (Porcelain, England, Factory) A small porcelain factory was established at Pinxton, Derbyshire, by William Billingsley in 1796, perhaps in partnership with John Coke, on whose estate the factory was situated. Coke almost certainly provided the capital to launch the enterprise. Billingsley pulled out in 1801 but the factory continued in being till about 1812, latterly under the management, perhaps ownership, of John Cutts, a painter responsible for much of the decoration. Most of the porcelain produced, mainly table wares and small vases, was in the style of Derby; but after Billingslry left there was a considerable deterioration. Output was always small and Pinxton porcelain is accordingly scarce. A large headed arrow is a recurring mark.

                Pipe Holder Case - (Tobacciana) 18th Century form. Carved wooden pipe with a long stem and a hinged lid that lift up to insert a short clay pipe. The clay part is lit and then inserted for smoking.

                Pipe Rack - (Tobacciana) Various types for holding clay pipes include (1) metal frame for cleaning pipes on a hot oven-also known as a pipe-kiln; (2) wooden stand fitted with a pierced disc, on a central standard, through which the stems of the pipes passed; (3) a hanging rack of wood constructed to hold pipes in a horizontal position supported on indented uprights; (4) a wooden fixture with a backboard fitted with two narrow cross bars pierced to receive the pipes.

                Plan - (Domestic, Bronze, Chinese) Ancient bronze vessel, a shallow bowl, sometimes with handles.

                Planewood - (Wood) Timber of the maple-leaved plant which, according to the Cabinet Dictionary (1803), was used instead of beech by country furniture-makers for painted chairs.

                Plank - (Furniture) Solid piece of board.

                Plaque  - (Ceramics, Pottery, Porcelain) An ornamental plate affixed to furniture, chimneypieces, etc. Wedgwood plaques are notable; metal, chiefly bronze, plaques for the decoration of furniture were favored during the Regency.

                Plaquette  - (Silver, Bronze, Metal) A small plaque (like a medal) for the decoration of furniture and domestic utensils.

                Plate - (Silver, Gold, Technique) Wares of gold, solid silver or silver-gilt. Because of possible (and frequent) confusion the terms `gold plate' and `silver plate' are often used; this is particularly the case with the latter in order to distinguish such wares from Sheffield plate, electro-plate, etc.

                Plate - (Musical Instruments, Piano) The Plate is the iron frame to which the strings are attached. Also known as the harp, it enables the strings to bear enormous pressure. In most pianos, the tuning pins come out of the pin block and pass through the plate, where the plate has a hole for each tuning pin. On a Grand Piano it is usually gilded gold.

                Plateau - (Ceramics, Glass, Silver) A stand resting on a plinth or short legs, serving as a centre ornament for the dining-table. In fashion during the late years of the eighteenth century and early in the nineteenth century. Some are in fact a mirror in a metal frame and may have a low decorative gallery. They are also made with ceramic centers and some have handles.

                Plate Money - (Currency) The largest coins ever made, square-shaped, being sometimes 40 lb. in weight (the copper equivalent of what was the silver value); a Swedish curiosity issued in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

                Plate Pail - (Domestic, Wood, Basketry) A bucket or basket-like container for carrying plates from the kitchen to the dining-room; used in big houses during the eighteenth century when such a journey could be an arduous one. Nearly always of mahogany, the shape was usually circular or polygonal, there would be an open section for easy access, and the handle was most often of brass.
                Plinth – (Ceramics, Furniture, Architecture) In architecture, the square base of a column and by analogy the base of a piece of furniture, etc., when not supported on feet.

                Plique a Jour - (Enamel, Jewelry) plique d jour, in which translucent enamel is strengthened by internal strips of metal-like stained-glass windows.
                Plover - (Oriental Decoration, Symbolism) The plover is a shore bird. In Oriental cultures the plover is seen as an emblem of perseverance and the conquering of obstacles.


                Plum - Prunus - (Hawthorne) (Symbolism Chinese-Japanese) - Symbol of Winter, corresponding to the month of January. One of the "Three Friends of Winter" which is the emblem of beauty, purity and longevity. In modern China Prunus is the National Flower. The five petals signifying the five peoples of China: Han, Manchu, Mongol, Mohammedan and Tibetan. The "plum" in Chinese art is botanical Prunus mume or mei and more closely related to the Apricot then the Plum. Prunus mume is a deciduous tree, native to China and southwestern Japan that is very resistant to freezing.

                Plumwood - (Wood) Yellow wood with red heart, very hard, used in country furniture.

                Plymouth - (Ceramics, Porcelain, England) The first hard-paste porcelain to be made in England was made at Coxside, Plymouth, by William Cookworthy, who patented his formula and founded the Plymouth factory in 1768. But in 1770 the factory, which seems to have been financially unsound from the start, was moved to Bristol, and in 1773 Cookworthy withdrew from the venture. Inevitably Plymouth porcelain is scarce. The body is very hard. Clumsiness of execution and decoration is typical, with frequent smoke stains, firecracks, specks and warping and running. Decoration includes underglaze blue (which looks greyish), enamel painting, and things like salt cellars and sauce boats are often ornamented in relief with shells, coral and seaweed, but much Plymouth porcelain is undecorated and unmarked. A few pieces bear the complete name PLYMOUTH, and the inscription `Mr. W. Cookworthy's Factory Plymouth 1770' has been recorded. But many marks were used and continued to be used after the factory was removed to Bristol. Characteristic is the `2/4' mark, the vertical stroke of the four being shaped like a two.

                Pokal - (Glass, German) A type of goblet having a stemmed foot and a lid with a finial. They were made in Germany from 1680 until the mid 19th century. At a festive occasion they were past among the guests to drink a toast. Their function was similar to that of a loving cup.

                Pole Screen - (Furniture, Fireplace, Accessories, Textiles) Small screen, often oval in shape, mounted on a tall pole which usually stands on a tripod base. These screens are adjustable, and the panel is frequently of needlework.

                Polish - (Furniture, Finishing, Technique) The use of oil, linseed particularly, to preserve furniture is of considerable antiquity. From the twelfth to the sixteenth century it was the usual practice to paint furniture. Polishing with oil, turpentine, beeswax, was practiced from the sixteenth century. Walnut for use in furniture was sometimes heated and made to `sweat' and then polished with its own oil. `French' polish was introduced into England from France about 1820 and much old furniture was scraped and French polished in the nineteenth century.

                Polonaise Carpets - (Floor Coverings) Persian but with Western influence suggested by the balanced composition and foreign motifs (these superb carpets are something of a puzzle to the experts). Woven of wool but more frequently of silk, and incorporating gold and silver thread, many shades of many colors are exquisitely blended, the larger areas of lighter tones contrasting with small pockets of vivid deep coloring.
                Polychrome – (Ceramics) An object decorated in many colors, usually in bright colors.

                Pontil Mark - (Glass) The mark or scar under old blown glass made by the punty rod, with which the glass was held after removal from the blowpipe. Pontil is also called`Punty'.

                Pontypool Japanned Ware - (Japanned Ware, England) Local (Pontypool, Monmouthshire) metal ware japanned with a by-product of coal developed by the Allgood family from the latter half of the seventeenth century. Small things such as trays and dressing boxes are typical.

                Poplar - (Wood)  A timber ranging in color from whitish yellow to grey; used for inlay in the sixteenth and early seventeenth century.

                Porcelain - (Ceramics, Porcelain) (1) HARD-PASTE. Hard or `True' porcelain contains two essential ingredients known to the Chinese as kao-lin (china clay) and pai-tun-tzu (china stone), both of which are products of feldspar rock in varying stages of decay. The main characteristic of kaolin is that it will take and retain almost any shape. Pai-tun-tzu, or petuntse, which is the more usual French form, acts as the cement. Kaolin requires a higher temperature to fuse it than does the petuntse. The mixture of refractory white kaolin and fusible petuntse unite in the firing into a dense, white, translucent, resonant material, namely porcelain. The temperature required to bring this about is approximately 1,450 degrees Centigrade. The mixture before firing is usually called the `paste'.
                Porcelain comprises the `body' and the `glaze'. The latter is an outer skin containing petuntse and in hard porcelain is nearly always fired at the same time as and in one operation with the body. Rarely, the glaze is applied later in a second firing which will be at a somewhat lower temperature. Hard porcelain is translucent though the degree of translucency may vary greatly. It should also `ring' when struck. And it should be so hard that it will withstand efforts to cut it with the edge of a file. Worth bearing in mind is that for the Chinese the criterion for porcelain is that it `rings' when struck, whereas for the European translucency is all important.
                It is generally agreed that porcelain was first made by the Chinese in the late seventh or early eighth century A.D. A merchant writing in 851 tells of drinking vessels made of a clay as fine as glass through which the shimmer of water could be seen. The body of surviving specimens cannot be scratched with steel and is white and translucent; but it is said that kaolin was not used. Those Chinese porcelains with which we are most familiar-of the Ming and Ching dynasties-do contain kaolin and a greater proportion of petuntse than is usual in European porcelain. This means that the wares are somewhat softer and did not require such a high firing temperature as the European.
                The Chinese kept their secret and their monopoly for a millenium and it was not till the early years of the eighteenth century that Johann Friedrich Bottger produced the first true porcelain to be made in Europe, which led to the founding, in 1710, of the Royal Saxon Porcelain Manufacture at Meissen, near Dresden. A factory was established at Vienna some ten years later and by the mid-eighteenth century there were a number of German factories producing hard porcelain. S6vres, which at first had made soft-paste porcelain, introduced a hard-paste body in 1770. It may be said that on the Continent soft-paste formulae were used only until such time as the hard-paste formula could be obtained.
                But this was not so in England, where true porcelain has been but little made. William Cookworthy experimented for many years before founding his factory at Plymouth in 1768. He made hard-paste porcelain there till 1770 when the factory was removed to Bristol. Cookworthy soon withdrew from the enterprise which continued under Richard Champion till about 1782. Some hard-paste porcelain was made at the small New Hall (Staffordshire) factory from about 1780 to 1812. All the other English factories made soft-paste porcelains. But from the early years of the nineteenth century `bone china' was the staple English product.

                Porcelain - (2) SOFT-PASTE. Soft or `artificial' porcelain differs from hard-paste porcelain (see above) in that it is a `softer' material, that it requires less heat (about 1,100 degrees Centigrade as against 1,450 degrees Centigrade for hard) to fuse it, that it can be scratched or cut with metal (the edge of a file) that the glaze was always added afterwards. It was inevitable the European potters desirous of producing a ware that would partake of the translucency of Chinese porcelain should introduce glass into the mix. This was first done successfully at Florence about 1560, the product being known as Medici porcelain. Surviving examples are very rare indeed. It was not till the beginning of the eighteenth century that any great quantity of porcelain was produced. St Cloud was probably the first successful French factory (from before 1700), followed by Chantilly, Mennecy, Vincennes, S6vres; in Italy, Nove (before 1730), Doccia, Capo-di-Monte ...
                Whereas in Europe the basic ingredients were clay and ground glass, in England bone-ash and, in a few cases, soaprock, were preferred to glass. Bone-ash makes for easier working and seems to have been first used at Bow about 1750, then later at Chelsea, Derby and other centres. Soaprock was first used at Bristol in 1748, other factories to use it being Worcester, Caughley, Liverpool.

                Porringer - (Silver, Pewter, Ceramics, Pottery) A deep bowl with upright sides and an almost flat bottom and two handles or ears. Unlike the posset-pot the porringer rarely has a cover and was intended for porridge and broth rather than hot drinks.

                Porter's Chair - (Furniture) Chair for use of servant on duty in the halls of large houses; upholstered in leather and with enclosed (arched) top to keep out draughts.

                Portland Vase - (Glass) A vase of cameo glass thought to have been made at Alexandria about the time of Christ. Its various owners included the Duchess of Portland; hence the name. The vase was lent to the British Museum and was smashed by someone in 1845 (it has been restored). But before this tragedy took place Wedgwood had made a copy of the vase in his jasper ware a task that took him three years, 1786-90. A number of specimens were made and there have been subsequent editions.

                Posset-pot - (Silver, Pewter, Ceramics, Pottery) A caudle cup, forerunner of the porringer, dating from the seventeenth century. The form is usually bell-shaped and nearly all posset-pots have (or had) a cover. Silver examples are the most esteemed, naturally, but they are very scarce and the collector is more likely to encounter specimens of pottery. See Porringer.

                Potato Ring - (Silver)  Circular silver stand, probably for a bowl or dish, usually embossed and/or pierced; made in Ireland in the second half of the eighteenth century.

                Pot Board - (Furniture) Low shelf under a dresser.

                Pot Bracket - (Fireplace, Primitive, Iron) A pivoting iron bracket, from which pots could be suspended, that swings out over the fire.

                Pot Crane - (Fireplace, Primitive, Iron)  A pot bracket with a crane-like device for lowering or raising the pot.

                Pothanger or Hake or Hook - (Fireplace, Primitive, Iron)  The hook that hung from pot bracket and crane, sometimes with a ratchet for adjusting height.

                Pot Lids - (Vanity, Metal) The lids of jars made to contain pomades, etc. Decoration is polychrome color printing under the glaze done by a mechanical process. Nineteenth century.

                Pottery - (Ceramics, Pottery) Generic term applied to all ceramic substances other than porcelain (though, all too often, porcelain is included under this heading); the two types of pottery are earthenware and stoneware. Pottery is simply clay baked to a certain degree of hardness which will vary according to the duration and intensity of the firing. Such elements as sand or calcined flints are added to certain wares.

                Pounce
                - (Writing Instruments) The powder formerly used to dry ink was so-called. The pounce-box or pounce-pot was the container-cumsprinkler. By extension a fine powdered (matted) effect on metal was termed `pouncing'.

                Powder Blue - (Ceramics, Decoration, Chinese, England) Ceramic decoration, under the glaze, in which the powdered pigment is blown on the ware; first used by the Chinese in the second half of the seventeenth century and later copied by many European factories (notably Worcester in UK).

                Pratt Ware - (Ceramics, Pottery, Earthenware, England) Earthenware decorated with high-temperature colors as made by Felix Pratt of Lane Delph. Robust jugs, often with decoration in relief, bearded faces, and figures, are quite common. The Pratt family were active throughout the nineteenth century.

                Presentation Dish - (Ceramics, Glass, Silver) An inscribed dish given to a person in honor of a special occasion or event. They are usually sterling silver or silver plate but they can be crystal glass or hand painted ceramic pieces.

                Presentation Gift - (Gold, Silver, Metal, Glass, Wood) A presentation gift is a gift given to someone that is etched or incised with their name and usually a date that is given to commemorate a special event or date. It can also have who it was from and what it was for.

                Press Bed - (Furniture) A folding bed made to pack into a concealing press or cupboard.

                Pressed Glass - (Glass) Glass made in a mould without blowing. The mould is partly filled with molten glass and a plunger, conforming to the inside shape of the vessel being made, is thrust into the mould and presses the molten glass into the cavities of the mould. First made in the United States about 1827, the invention usually credited to Enoch Robinson, and soon taken up in England.

                Pricket - (Silver, Metal, Candle) A spike for holding a candle, used in candlesticks before the introduction of the socket or nozzle. The term seems also to have been applied to the candle itself.

                Prie-Dien - (Furniture, Religious) (French= pray God): Kneeling desk, usually of oak, the hinged kneeling step a box for devotional books.

                Prie-Dieu Chair - (Furniture, Religious) low seat and tall straight back with flat top on which the arms rest when praying.

                Privy Council Ware - (Ceramics, Porcelain, China) Porcelain Ware made at Ching-ti-chen during the Yuan and early Ming dynasties, mostly dishes and bowls with incised, molded or slip decoration under a pale blue-green or blue-white glaze; some pieces bear the incised inscription shu fu, or fu, or lu. Also known as Shu Fu.

                Progitate - (Latin Inscription) Translates: to go forth , go out; to go forwards, advance, proceed.

                Prunt - (Glass) Small piece of ornamental glass, often shaped or impressed to represent blackberry or raspberry, dropped or laid on to a vase or other vessel.

                Pranus Vase - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Chinese) A form of Chinese porcelain vase with squat body; small neck and mouth, supposedly intended to hold a single spray of the prunus blossom called 'Mei Ping Vase'.

                Pseudo - (Term, Antiques) Fake, not the original, false, counterfeit, closely or deceptively similar.

                Pseudo Hallmarks - (Silver) Stamped mark devices used on silver used to suggest English Hallmarks.

                Punch Bowl - (Glass, Ceramics, Porcelain, Silver) Silver punch bowls began to be made after the Restoration; the earliest examples are quite shallow; those dating from the end of the seventeenth century are larger and usually have removable rims or `collars' (see Monteith). Large bowls of pottery and porcelain were made by English factories in the eighteenth century, and these also formed a profitable branch of the Chinese export trade.

                Punch Glass - (Glass) Made from c. 1690. The bowl should be plain, clear, unadorned. Hot punch became popular about 1763 and punch glasses with handles were made from that time.

                Purity Mark - (Glass) The mark or scar under old blown glass made by the punty rod, with which the glass was held after removal from the blowpipe. `Punty' is sometimes spelt `pontil'.

                Purdonium - (Furniture) Square wooden box with hinged lid, padded seat, removable container, for storing coal at fireside; often in pairs; Victorian.

                Putto - (Fine Art) A cherubic figure of a small male child common in Renaissance art.

                Puttum - (Fine Art) Plural for Putto

                Puzzle Jug - (Ceramics, Pottery) Pottery drinking jug, usually with a full, pierced neck, which contains a hidden tube that enables the contents to be drained by suction. Several apertures (including one that may be hidden) are available to the drinker; he must drink from one, which he can only do if he successfully blocks all the others. Made at various centers during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries; humorous inscriptions are often found on these jugs

                Pyrography - Pyro Art (Folk Art) - Woodenware objects in which the decoration is burned into the wood.

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