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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
Face-à-main brisée - (Scientific Instruments, Optical) Hinged Lorgnette Eyeglasses were invented in France. The French optician M. Lepage produced the first ‘Hinged Lorgnette’ in 1818 and called it ‘face-à-main brisée. Also called Lorgnette.
Faenza - (Ceramics, Earthenware, Pottery, Italy) One of the most important Italian maiolica centres from 1450. The French term faience probably derives from the Italian town. Earthenware decorated with colorful opaque glazes or a moderate to strong greenish blue.
Faience - (Ceramics, Earthenware, Pottery) Pale red earthenware covered with a tin glaze. The term dates from the beginning of the seventeenth century though the ware was made at least 100 years earlier and is thought to derive rather from the Italian town of Faenza than from the French Faience. Faience was made in several European countries during the sixteenth, seventeenth and eighteenth centuries but outstandingly in France from c. 1700 to 1780.
Famille Jaune - (Porcelain Chinese) Chinese porcelain dating from the K'ang Hsi period in which a yellow ground was used for the polychrome enamel decoration. Examples are rare and are sometimes referred to as Imperial Yellow.
Famille Noire - (Porcelain Chinese) Chinese porcelain dating from the K'ang Hsi period in which a black ground (washed with transparent green enamel) was used for the polychrome enamel decoration. Examples are rare-especially of the greatly esteemed large vases with floral designs.
Famille Rose - (Porcelain Chinese) Chinese porcelain dating from the K'ang Hsi period, but associated mainly with the Yung Cheng and Ch'ien Lung periods, and so-called because of the use of a new color (a European innovation), rose, an opaque pink enamel. The Chinese called this color yang-ts'ai (foreign colors) and famille rose wares were made for the export market only. Much of the decoration was done in the studios of Canton. At its best the painting is extremely delicate; European subjects are quite common.
Famille Verte - (Porcelain Chinese) Chinese porcelain of the K'ang Hsi period so-called because it exhibits the predominant use of a brilliant green enamel. The verte palette is a development of the Ming wu-ts'ai (five-colour) decoration, but the Ming underglaze blue gives way to overglaze blue enamel. Famille verte wares (at their best) are mainly responsible for the great esteem which attaches to the K'ang Hsi period. The paste is fine, the potting is of a high order, the decoration, whether vigorous or delicate, is superb.
Fan, Folding - (Clothing, Accessory) In China, the folding fan came into fashion during the Ming dynasty between the years of 1368 and 1644, and the production center of the folding fan was Hangzhou. The Mai Ogi (or Chinese dancing fan) has ten sticks and a thick paper mount showing the family crest. Chinese painters created many fan decoration designs. The slats could be made of ivory, bone, mica, mother of pearl, or tortoise shell, were carved, and sometimes pierced then covered with paper or fabric. Folding fans have "montures" which are the outside sticks and guards. The leaves are usually painted by artisan. Social significance was attached to the fan in the Far East. The management of the fan became a highly regarded feminine art. The function and employment of the fan reached its high point of social significance (fans were even used as a weapon - called the iron fan, or tieshan in Chinese, tessen in Japanese).
Fan Back Windsor - (Furniture) Windsor chair back, flared like a fan.
Fan Vase - (Glass) A vase hand-tooled or hand-finished into a flat fan-shaped form. Often has side handles of some type.
Farthingale Chair - (Furniture) Chair without arms, with quite a wide seat and with narrow, high back; so-called because built to accommodate females in farthingales, this type of chair was developed because ladies wore farthingale hooped skirts, a chair was required for the women to be able to sit down for whom any other kind of seat was well nigh an impossibility. This type of chair comes from the English Jacobean Period and was usually made of oak as it was still the timber used during the reigns of James I and Charles I. The furniture retained many Elizabethan characteristics but the ornament gradually became less prominent.
Fauteuil - (Furniture, French) A Fauteuil is a French term for an open arm-chair; but when used precisely, an arm-chair whose sides are not, in contradistinction to the Bergere, upholstered.
Faux – (Term) French meaning fake or false. An item or finish made to resemble the authentic or real item or finish.
Feather Banding - (Furniture) Feather Banding is a banding of veneer formed of two strips, of which the grain, runs diagonally, in an acute angle opposite of each other which produces a herring bone or 'feather' effect. Also Known As - Herringbone Banding
Fencai - (Enamel, China) Means "pale colors". Decoration with opaque, colored enamels of same type as used in the Famille Rose palette and where the different colors don't mix but are kept within outlines.
Fender - (Hearth Accessories) A Narrow Horizontal metal sheild that ran from edge to edge in a fireplace to keep the ashes from falling outThe wide hearth made fenders unnecessary till the late seventeenth century, but in the eighteenth century steel fenders, shaped, pierced and engraved, became common. Brass fenders, with bottom plates, came in the late eighteenth century. In the 1820's Birmingham began the manufacture of cast iron fenders which was to put an end to the decorative fender.
Feraghan Rugs - (Floor Coverings) Persian rugs in which the red or dark blue ground is decorated with floral or foliage designs; three-stripe border usually; a coarse weave woven with the Senna knot.
Ferrule - (Cane) A ferrule is a ring or cap placed around a pole or shaft for reinforcement. Usually placed on the bottoms of canes to prevent splitting. A ferrule is usually made of metal but can be made of other materials. Many canes have bare shaft material at the bottom where the cane strikes the ground. This in early days limited the life expectancy of the stick. A bare stick would become soaked and later crack and become frayed and swollen at its terminal end. To overcome this, stick makers created the ferrules which can be defined as a cap of solid metal, to cover the bottom of the cane. Ferrules were also made from horn, ivory copper or silver with iron heel. In the best modern cane the ferrule is made of water buffalo horn, because it is denser than other horn, does not flake and wears well. Simple thimble-like caps are now manufactured in England and are found as replacements on many old canes.
Festoon - (Decoration, Furniture, Art, Ceramics) A garland of flowers, leaves, fruit, etc., loosely suspended between two points-hence a representation of similar ornaments in carving, stucco, painting.
Filigrana - (Glass, Italian) The word filigrana literally means thread grained. This type of glass was originally made in Murano, Italy around 1527 - 1549. The process for making filigrana involved adding colored glass threads to clear glass by twisting and embedding the threads to form various lace-like patterns.
Filigree – (Jewelry, Silver, Furniture) Decoration that is delicate and intricate, ornamentation done with gold, silver or fine wire.
Finger Vase - (Ceramics, Glass) Vase consisting of five flower holders arranged as are the fingers of a hand. Made at Delft and other ceramics centres.
Finial - (Decoration) The crowning ornament at the top of an arch, piece of glass, furniture or pottery or end of a piece of flatware. (Lighting) The ornamental nut screwed at the top of a lamp or fixture to hold the shade on.
Fire-back or Fire-plate or Reredo - (Hearth Accessories) Cast-iron slab placed at the back of a fireplace to protect the wall and to throw the heat forward. Early examples are wide and quite low, usually rectangular in shape; the tombstone shape came in in the late seventeenth century. And it is at about this time that many fire-backs were imported from Holland. Sussex was the traditional place of manufacture in England and some of the best early examples are in Sussex museums, Hastings particularly. The designs were impressed on the bed of sand (in which the plate was moulded) by means of movable wooden stamps.
Fire-dog - (Hearth Accessories) See Andiron.
Fire-fork - (Hearth Accessories)The forerunner of the poker, a lengthy iron twopronged fork for adjusting burning logs in the fireplace; went out of use when coal came in in the eighteenth century.
Fire-irons - (Hearth Accessories) Equipment for use at the fireside: fork (when wood was the fuel-see previous entry), tongs, shovel (when coal became the fuel), and brush. Tongs are the most elaborate item in most sets. Examples survive from the seventeenth century.
Fire Pan - (Hearth Accessories) A tray for holding burning charcoal.
Fire Polish - (Glass)The brilliant finish that is imparted to glass by repeated re-heating after it has begun to cool.
Fire Screen - (Hearth Accessories) Both the pole screen and the cheval screen were made to protect the sitter from the heat of an open fire. See Screen.
Firing-glass - (Glass) Short, stubby drinking glass so made to withstand rapping on the table when toasts were being drunk.
Flagon - (Glass) Formerly a bottle to hold liquor; later a tall drinking vessel with a handle and usually a lid; forerunner of the tankard.
Flambe - (Term) French term meaning singed, passed through flame.
Flambe Glazes - (Ceramics, Glaze) Glazes found on certain Chinese ceramics, such as vivid reds streaked with blue or purple. In early wares, as of the Sung dynasty, it is probable that these effects were unintended but brought about by uncertain kiln conditions; later, from the eighteenth century, they were brought about intentionally and were very popular during the Ch'ien Lung period.
Flashed Glass - (Glass) See Cased Glass.
Flaxman, John - (Ceramics, England) (1755-1826) Sculptor employed by Wedgwood to design many of the relief decorations for the jasper ware.
Fleur-de-lis - (Decoration, French) French meaning lily flower. A stylized lily, this heraldic flower with three petals appears in Christian iconography as an emblem reflecting the purity of the Virgin Mary. A central device in the royal arm of France from the 12th century, the fleur-de-lis was a popular motif in late Gothic tracery designs, and it was taken up by the Gothic Revival Style, featuring as an ornament on screens, tile and ironwork.
Flintlock - (Weapon) A type of gunlock which dates from the early seventeenth century. The pan holds priming powder and has a hinged cover from which rises a piece of steel; a flint is held in the jaws of a cock; when discharged the flint strikes the steel and at the same time throws the cover back thus allowing the sparks to shower into the priming. See Snaphaunce.
Flora Danica - (Ceramics, Netherlands) See Copenhagen.
Flowerball – (Porcelain Chinese) Medallion style decoration on Graviata grounds and are first seen in the Qianlong period though are better known from the Daoguang reign. Borderless medallion floral pieces were made at the end of the Kangxi reign, and a variety of this type in the Yongzheng reign. Related styles such as these flower-ball decor items were made during the Qianlong period to the end of the dynasty with a graviata ground. This same design motif of irregular scattered flower-balls on a graviata ground is also seen on fencai (famille rose) and doucai decorated wares in the Yongzheng and Qianlong eras.
Fluting - (Decoration, Furniture, Silver) A decorative motif much used on silver vessels, also on furniture, comprising channels divided by a sharp fillet.
Foliot - (Clocks) Early form of mechanical clock controller which went with the verge escapement.
Fontainebleau Porcelain Factory - (Ceramics, Porcelain, French) French hard-paste porcelain factory founded in 1795.
Forbidden Stitch - (Textile, Embroidery, Chinese) "Forbidden Stitch" in Chinese embroideries. This moniker normally refers to the "Seed" or "Knotted" stitches used along with satin stitches and couching on highly decorative, finely worked silk costume items. One romantic view suggests that this label appeared when such work was forbidden among young girls because its fineness contributed to eyestrain. A close look at Chinese embroidery, however, discloses a variety of other stitches that are sometimes worked with similar intricacy.
Form - (Furniture) The form or bench (the terms are interchangeable) is a seat with supports or legs which has remained essentially the same throughout its history. In early times the form was sometimes a plank resting on trestles.
Forslunds Timeless Furniture - (Furniture Manufacturer) Timeless Furniture made by Forslunds was made by Carl Forslund and his three sons in Grand Rapids Michigan. During the 1960s and 1970s he gave away a hand carved and painted bird or bird decoy with the purchase of some of his furniture. These birds have become collectible.
Fragrance Furnace - (Ceramics, Metal) Incense Burner
Frankenthal Porcelain Factory - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Germany) Porcelain factory founded at Frankenthal near Mannheim, Germany, in 1755 by Paul-Anton Hannong, who had produced porcelain at Strasbourg, with the aid of J. J. Ringler of Vienna. The factory purchased by the Elector Palatine in 1762; it closed in 1799.
Frank Leslie – (Artist and Engraver) Henry Carter was born in England and adopted the pen name Frank Leslie to hide the fact that he was an artist from his father who wanted him to go into the dry-goods profession. As his sketches began to sell to the Illustrated London News he gave up the dry-goods job and became the superintendent of the engraving department at the Illustrated London News before he was 21. This job gave him the opportunity to study the different aspects of the publishing business, wood engraving and he became an expert in overlaying wood engravings. In 1948 he move to the United States and had his name legally changed to Frank Leslie. He went to work at Gleason’s Pictorial in Boston and later the Illustrated News. He started publishing his first two periodicals in 1854. They were the Frank Leslie’s Ladies Gazette of Fashion and The New York Journal. In 1855 he started publishing the Frank Leslie's Illustrated Newspaper. In 1865 he established "The Chimney Corner," and followed it with German and Spanish editions of the "Illustrated Newspaper," "The Boys' and Girls' Weekly," "The Lady's Journal," a weekly, "The Budget of Fun," a monthly, "The New World," a weekly, "Pleasant Hours," "Popular Monthly," and "Sunday Magazine," monthlies, and "The Chatter Box," the "Illustrated Almanac," and the "Comic Almanac," annuals. Mr. Leslie received the medal of the American institute for wood engraving in 1848, was a commissioner to the Paris exposition of 1867, where he was presented with a prize medal in gold by Napoleon III. for his services on the jury on art, and president of the New York state centennial commission in 1876. He was a liberal patron of art and charitable interests.
Frank Leslie’s Ladies Gazette of Fashion – (Publication - Fashion) Published by Frank Leslie from 1854 until 1886.
French Polish - (Finish, Furniture, Musical Instruments) French polishing is a technique, not a material; the finish itself is shellac dissolved in denatured alcohol A technique of adding many layers of shellac by hand with a thick pad and buffing it to a shinny finish. A true French polish is all hand work, and with shellac and pad. Rubbing and rubbing until the finish is built up to the desired look.
Fretwork - (Furniture, Decoration) This form of decoration was used a lot by eighteenth century English cabinet-makers, particularly when the Chinese and Gothic tastes were in vogue. Open fretwork, as on galleries of small tables, was usually made from several thicknesses of veneer glued together. Decorative fretwork patterns on a solid ground were used on a variety of furniture--chair legs, for instance.
Frieze - (Furniture) Member of an entablature coming between architrave and cornice.
Friggers - (Glass) Improbable and even fantastic objects made of glass -tobacco pipes, walking sticks, bells, ships, riding crops, bellows (flasks), rolling pins-much else. Made at Nailsea particularly, and at Bristol, and to a lesser extent at other glassmaking centres.
Frit - (Ceramics) A calcined mixture of sand and alkalis as used for glassmaking and in the manufacture of soft-paste porcelain.
Frog Mug - (Ceramics) Type of mug made mostly at Sunderland, but also at Leeds, Nottingham and elsewhere, containing a model of a frog.
Fromanteels, The - (Clocks) The London branch of this famous family of Dutch clock-makers established itself in England in the 1620's and for almost 100 years practised their craft with distinction.
Frye, Thomas - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Decoratior, Irsih) Irish painter turned porcelain manufacturer who in 1744 registered jointly with Edward Heylyn a patent for making porcelain (unaker was a specified ingredient) and later in 1749 patented another formula which included calcined bones. In partnership with two London merchants Frye founded the factory at Bow (q.v.), which he managed until his retirement in 1759.
Fu - (Bronze, Chinese) A rectangular bronze container, usually on four feet. Chou dynasty.
Fuddling-cup - (Ceramics, England) A number of cups cemented together with openings one to the other; made at Lambeth, Bristol, and other pottery centres in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.
Fuku Mark - (Ceramics Japanese) A Fuku Mark is symbol or character mark made inside a square that many of the different Japanese Kilns used up until 1868.
Fulda Porcelain Factory - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Germany) A porcelain factory founded at Fulda, Hesse, Germany, in 1765. The venture was under the auspices of the PrinceBishop of Fulda, Heinrich von Bibra. The factory was burned down in 1767 but was rebuilt and continued until 1790. A hard paste of excellent quality was made and figures are highly regarded. 'FF' linked to form an 'x' is the usual mark.
Fulham Stoneware Factory - (Ceramics, Stoneware, England) This stoneware factory founded in 1671 by John Dwight.
Fundameji - (Japanese Lacquer) Powder ground. Ground in which a fine metal powder is densely sprinkled or dusted over the wet lacquer, covered with a thin protective coat of lacquer after hardening, and polished. Before 1600, this type of surface was called ikakeji. More general terms include kinji when gold powder is used, and ginji when silver is used.
Furnishing Pieces - (Term, Furniture) A trade term applied to antiques which, because their price is within the purse of most collectors, can be bought for use in the home. Such a piece would therefore usually be less than perfect and of somewhat doubtful provenance.
Furstenberg Porcelain Factory - (Ceramics, Porcelain, Germany) This porcelain factory founded in 1747 at Furstenberg, Brunswick, Germany, under the auspices of Duke Karl I of Brunswick, but no porcelain was produced until the arrival of Johann Benckgraff (who had been at Vienna) in 1753. Hard-paste porcelain was made from this date, but not very successfully till c. 1770. However, during the period 1770-1800 much excellent porcelain, including figures, was manufactured. The letter 'F' is the usual mark.
Fusee - (Clock, Watch, Part) A Fusee is a device that equalizes the pull of the mainspring of a clock or watch. If were it not for the fusee, the spring would go too fast when fully wound and too slow when almost unwound, a pulley to which the strain is transferred and whose conical shape transmits a steady pull to the train. Invented in the fifteenth century and still in use in clocks of quality. Leonardo Da Vinci had drawings showing the Fusee in principal.
Fustian - (Textile) A coarse cotton cloth used for bed hangings and counterpanes in early times; later the term seems to have applied to a richer material used as the outer cover of upholstery and even for clothing. Norwich was a prominent manufacturing centre of fustian in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries.
Fustic - (Wood) Wood imported from Central America and the West Indies and used for a time during the eighteenth century as a veneer; but its yellow colour, which presumably commended it at first, was found to be impermanent and the wood was no longer used by the end of the century.