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    Glossary

    Antiques Speak

    Our glossary of the antique trade's most intriguing lingo. Choose a term on the left.

    After

    A print is said to be made "after" an artist if the printmaker copied the image from a drawing or painting by that artist.

    Albumen

    Subtly toned photographs popular in the late 1800s that were made by adhering photographic chemicals to paper with egg whites — hence the name.

    Ambrotype

    A photographic process popular from 1850 to the mid-1860s that consisted of one-of-a-kind glass negatives made positive by coating the backs with black lacquer.

    American Renaissance Revival

    An often-ornate style of furniture, popular from about 1865 to 1885, that used motifs popular in Renaissance Europe.

    Antique

    Generally speaking, an object of considerable age valued for its aesthetic or historical significance. In the antiques trade, the term refers to objects more than 100 years old.

    Antiques Speak

    Our glossary of the antique trade's most intriguing lingo. Choose a term on the left.

    Art Deco

    An art movement popular between World War I and II that featured mass-produced objects with angular designs, ancient Egyptian motifs, and streamlined shapes of reminiscent of airplanes.

    Art Nouveau

    An often flamboyant, erotic and organic art movement that flourished in the decorative arts at the turn of the 20th century, featuring natural forms and "S" curves.

    As is

    A phrase often used by antique dealers to make clear to potential buyers that an object is damaged and is being sold "as is," without any guarantee or warranty.

    Bakelite

    An inexpensive plastic that became popular during the 1930s and 40s as a material for all kinds of consumable goods, including jewelry, cameras, billiard balls, and radios.

    Baroque

    A style of art and architecture prevalent in Europe during the 17th and early 18th centuries, typified by the Palace of Versailles and characterized by ponderous, highly elaborate ornament.

    (See also: Rococo)

    Bisque

    A delicate, unglazed, pink-tinted porcelain that was used from about 1820 until 1940 to make realistic-looking doll heads.

    Bloomers

    Since the late 19th century, any loose, full, trouser-like garment that is gathered between the knee and ankle and worn under a long skirt.

    Brass

    A metal alloy consisting of copper and zinc. Brass is softer and more malleable than bronze (copper and tin), which is why brass is used to shape many musical instruments, such as the trombone, tuba, trumpet, and saxophone.

    (See also: Bronze)

    Brasses

    A term used to refer to the handles and other metalwork hardware on a piece of furniture.

    Breweriana

    A subcategory of antiques and collectibles that refers to all things beer-related, including advertisements, mugs, trays, signs, and coasters.

    Broadsheet

    An unfolded sheet of paper printed on one side only. A broadside is an advertisement or announcement printed on such paper.

    Brocade

    A rich, silk fabric with raised patterns.

    Bronze

    A metal alloy consisting of copper and tin that sometimes contains small amounts of other elements, such as zinc or phosphorous. Depending on the proportions of the mix, bronze can have a range of hues, from silvery to a rich copper color. The alloy is more durable than brass (copper and zinc) and has been used since for sculptures since antiquity.

    (See also: Brass)

    Cabriole

    A style of leg on a chair or table that has a gentle "S" shape. This shape was a distinctive part of the vocabulary of the Queen Anne and Chippendale furniture styles popular during the 18th century.

    Cameo

    A technique used on glass or stone to create a decorative effect of contrasting colors. The effect is created by acid etching, carving, cutting, or engraving through one layer of material to reveal a design in relief.

    (See also: Intaglio)

    Carat

    The common unit of measurement for precious stones and pearls. Carat refers to weight and is equivalent to 200 milligrams. It is often abbreviated as CT.

    (See also: Karat)

    Carte de visite

    French for "visiting card," and also known as CDV. A kind of photograph that became popular in Europe and the U.S. during the 1860s and 70s. It consisted of a small paper print mounted on card stock, and largely supplanted the more fragile glass images of the ambrotype.

    Catalogue raisonné

    A French term meaning "explained catalog," it refers to a list, often produced as a book, of all works by an artist that are known at the time of printing. It often includes essential documentary information and scholarly commentary.

    Chasing

    A technique used on silver that consists of a series of small punches that provide texture or lines that resemble an engraving.

    (See also: Engraving)

    Chenille

    A velvety silk, wool, or cotton fabric with a protruding pile.

    China

    A term first used by Europeans to describe the porcelain and other fine ceramics that were imported from China, the only country that made porcelain until the 18th century.

    Chintz

    A glazed, printed cotton fabric.

    Chippendale

    An essentially neoclassical style of furniture developed in the mid-18th century by Thomas Chippendale, a London designer and furniture maker, who combined elements of the rococo style with gothic and Chinese influences to come up with a hybrid style embraced on both sides of the Atlantic.

    Circa

    A Latin word meaning "about" or "around." It is used in reference to dates when the exact age of something cannot be known but can be approximated. It is often abbreviated as "c." or "ca."

    Cire perdue

    French for "lost wax," it is a method of casting bronze used from the Middle Ages to the early 18th century. The artist would begin by making a model of his sculpture in wax and then covering the model with a mold, usually clay. The wax would then be melted away (or "lost") and molten bronze was poured into the clay mold. After the bronze hardened, the clay would be broken away, revealing the sculpture.

    Cloche

    A tigh- fitting hat worn pulled down low onto the forehead; reached its greatest popularity during the 1920s.

    Cluthra

    A specialized art glass with a cloudy, bubbly appearance. It is created by adding saltpeter (potassium nitrate) to molten glass, which produces large, random bubbles. This technique was pioneered at the Steuben Glassworks in Corning, New York, in the early 20th century.

    Coin silver

    A phrase that designates the proportion of silver used in American coins, which is said to have a fineness of 900. This means that 90% of the coin is silver by weight and 10% is copper, giving it a little less silver than sterling silver, which has 92.5% silver.

    (See also: Sterling)

    Collation

    The process of comparing a copy of a book to known editions, in order to ascertain whether its pages, illustrations, maps, advertisements, etc., are all present and complete.

    Collectible

    A term that describes valuable objects less than a hundred years old, often distinguished from antiques, which as a rule are more than a hundred years old.

    Colophon

    Derived from a Greek term meaning "finishing touch," it denotes a page at the end of a book traditionally listing details about the authorship and publication of the book. On many early books from the 15th and 16th centuries this is the only place such information is available. Title pages eventually replaced colophons in most books.

    Composition

    A material used from the 1920s to the 1950s to make dolls, consisting of malleable wood pulp and paste, or rags that had been boiled and formed.

    Crystal

    A high-quality glass made with oxide of lead, rather than soda, making it harder, clearer, brighter, and easier to cut than ordinary glass.

    Cut glass

    Glass into which a pattern is ground with a rotating wheel made of stone, wood, or metal, together with an abrasive suspended in liquid.

    Daguerreotype

    The first successful photographic process that became popular in the United States in the 1840s and 50s, consisting of one-of-a-kind images made on a copper plate coated with polished silver, giving them a mirror-like sheen.

    Damask

    A fine, lustrous fabric with flat patterns and a satin weave.

    Décolleté

    A low-neckline bodice of a blouse or dress. It is a traditional component of ladies' evening dresses and ball gowns.

    Denim

    A firm, durable twilled cotton fabric popularly used in blue jeans.

    Depression glass

    American glassware mass-produced from about 1920 to 1940, around the time of the Great Depression. It features smooth, shallow designs in a variety of colors. Now collectible, much Depression glass was sold inexpensively at dime stores or given away as promotions.

    Directoire

    A popular term for a high-waisted dress line. The directoire dress has a long, straight skirt, an exaggeratedly high waist line, low décolleté, and small, tight puff sleeves. It was popular in the 1880s, 1900s, and again in the 1960s.

    Domestic wood

    In the furniture trade, wood that comes from trees that are grown in the same country where the wood is to be sold.

    (See also: Imported wood)

    Dovetails

    A term for the interlocking wedge shapes used in woodworking as joints; they are both both strong and decorative.

    Dowel

    In woodworking, a cylindrical rod that fits into holes in two adjacent pieces to line them up and hold them together.

    Dresden lace

    Lace that combines a number of embroidery techniques, including satin stitch, tambour (chain stitch), and pulled stitches to create a lace-like surface. Also known as white work.

    Dust jacket

    A paper cover used to protect the binding of a book from dust and wear, sometimes referred to as a "book jacket" or "dust cover."

    Ebonist

    A cabinetmaker who works in ebony — a hard, heavy wood that is dark brown or black in color.

    Edition

    An edition of a print includes all the impressions published at the same time or as part of the same publishing event. A first edition print is one that was issued with the first published group of impressions. First-edition prints are sometimes pre-dated by a proof edition. Editions of a print should be distinguished from states of a print. There can be several states of a print from the same edition, and there can be several editions of a print all with the same state. In sculpture, it refers to the run of pieces made from a single mold that are authorized by the artist. Each edition is done at a different time and often has different characteristics than other editions.

    Electroplating

    Invented in the 1840s, a silver-plating process that was faster and less costly than Sheffield plating. A metal immersed in an electrolytic tank picks up a thin coating of silver from a silver ingot in the tank when a current of electricity is passed through it.

    (See also: Silver plating and Sheffield plating)

    Embossing

    A process that raises the surface of an object, creating a three- rather than two-dimensional design, often used in decorative arts such as jewelry, book-making, and silversmithing.

    Enamel

    A hard, glassy element consisting of colored glass ground up fine in oil and applied as decoration to an object, typically either of metal or glass, and then fused on with heat.

    Engraved glass

    Glass that is incised by holding it against a rotating copper wheel and an accompanying abrasive, or by scratching it, usually with a diamond.

    Engraving

    A generic term for an image on paper made from a design incised into a plate, then inked and printed, including line engraving, stipple engraving, etching, aquatint, and mezzotint. Also, a technique used on metal to create writing or decoration by cutting away material with a metal tool.

    (See also: Chasing)

    Epaulet

    A shoulder strap on a military jacket or coat used as a means of keeping accoutrements in place. It was also employed as a decoration in the 20th century.

    Ephemera

    Objects in the collecting world that were originally considered to be ephermal by nature, i.e., not made to last. Examples include broadsides announcing political meetings, greeting cards, invitations to Hollywood film openings, buttons, bumper stickers, and the like.

    Escutcheon

    An ornamental or protective metal plate that surrounds a keyhole, drawer pull, doorknob, light switch, etc.

    Etching

    Generally, the use of an acid to produce a design or image on glass, copper, or silver. A design is drawn onto the plate's coating with a needle or other sharp object, and then the plate is bathed with acid that bites into the plate where the coating was scraped away. As a fine-art medium, etchings have been used for printmaking since the 15th century, reaching their peak in the late 19th and early 20th century.

    Ex libris

    A Latin term meaning "from the library." In the trade, it often refers to a book that was once owned by someone whose ownership adds value, often someone famous. It is typically indicated by some ownership mark such as a signature, handwritten note, or bookplate.

    Export ware

    A product made primarily for a foreign rather than a local market, usually referring to decorative objects made in Islamic countries, or in Vietnam, Japan, and China, for export to the West.

    Fake

    An object made or sold with the intent of misleading or deceiving the buyer into believing the object is authentic.

    (See also: Chasing)

    Federal furniture

    In the field of American antiques, a highly valued style of furniture made in the period directly following the independence of the United States (1786) until about 1810, and featuring classical Greek and Roman motifs.

    Fibula

    A pin or brooch used in ancient times to attach or fasten male and female garments.

    Fichu

    A small scarf or shawl worn draped around the shoulders and fastened with a brooch at the breast

    Filigree

    An intricate ornamentation made of thin, twisted wire, usually gold or silver, often seen in brooches and earrings, though it is used in other decorative arts as well.

    Fine-art print

    One of two general types of prints, the other being historical prints. The distinction between the two types is not clear-cut (nor is it understood by all experts in the same way), but generally a fine-art print is one conceived and executed by an artist with at least as much concern for the manner of presentation as for its content.

    (See also: historical print)

    Finial

    In cabinetmaking, a decorative element that adorns the top of a piece of furniture with drawers, usually consisting of a carved urn with a flame or spike rising from it.

    Fire-polished glass

    Glass that is put in a hole in the side of a glass furnace to melt the surface and eliminate superficial irregularities or dullness.

    First edition

    The first press run of a book, which is prized by book collectors and often more valuable than future editions.

    Flea bite

    A slang term used to desribe a small or barely discernible chip in a piece of pottery or porcelain.

    Folio

    A printing term that refers to the largest standard size of a book, based on the folded sheets of paper that comprise it. A folio sheet is formed by a single piece of paper folded once, which creates four usable pages.

    Foxing

    A condition problem that often afflicts old books, consisting of brown spots caused by high humidity, temperature extremes, and old inks.

    French foot

    A short, concave curve in a furniture leg, often found on case furniture, creating a light, graceful support.

    Frock coat

    A long-sleeved, knee-length garment with tails, collars, reverse-buttoning, and back vents. It was adapted in the 19th century from a military coat, and became the formal dress for men.

    Frogging

    A Decorative braid fastening that loops over buttons or toggles. Originally worn on military uniforms, it has adorned women's coats and jackets since the 19th century.

    Frontispiece

    In a book or magazine, the illustration located on the page that faces, or immediately precedes, the title page.

    Gabardine

    A fabric of closely woven cotton or wool twill.

    Gadroon

    A decorative border along a piece of silver that consists of a repeating pattern of straight or curved flutings

    Georgette

    A thin silk or crepe material, named for the French dressmaker Georgette de la Plante.

    Georgian

    A style that was dominant under the three King Georges, who reigned in England from 1714 to 1820, which embraced classical Greek and Roman styles to create light, simple and elegant architecture and furniture.

    Gilding

    A thin layer of precious metal, usually gold, that is applied to wood, stone, or plaster sculpture or furniture. The valuable metal is sometimes applied in powder or leaf form and often fired to bind it. The process gives an object the appearance of gold without the cost of using solid gold.

    Gilt edges

    In bookmaking, the term refers to edges of a book that are smooth and finished with a very thin layer of gold. Top-edge gilt means that only the top has gold, as opposed to all-edges gilt. The gold is so thin that it has no value on its own beyond decoration.

    Glaze

    The thin, smooth, often decorative coating that waterproofs pottery and usually gives it color and sheen.

    Gouache

    A paint pigment with an opaque white filler mixed with water-soluble gum. It has a chalky appearance and is not as transparent or luminous as watercolors.

    Gum arabic

    A secretion of the acacia tree used on the surface of some antique hand-colored prints to add depth and texture to the image. The application can usually be seen by holding the print at an angle to the light.

    Hair stuffing

    In furniture upholstery, the packing in a seat, usually of horse hair, that makes the seat soft and comfortable.

    Hairpin lace

    Lace that is formed over a U-shaped wire frame, called a hairpin, with the help of a crochet hook. Also known as Portuguese lace.

    Hallmark

    The mark used by silversmiths and goldsmiths to identify who made a particular piece and to guarantee that it was made from a high-quality metal.

    Hand-blown glass

    A term used to describe glassware that is not machine-made, distinguishing it from glass blown by an automated machine or press-molded. Such glass is shaped (with or without a mold) with air blown by mouth through a blowpipe. The term is synonymous with mouth-blown, hand-made, or hand-manufactured glass.

    Hardwood

    Woods that come from broad-leaved trees such as oak, cherry, maple, or mahogany, often used in furniture making. It is more durable and generally considered more beautiful than wood from coniferous trees, called softwood.

    Haute couture

    A French term meaning "high dressmaking." It now refers mainly to the business of creating, designing, and selling high-fashion women's clothes, originiated by the 19th-century designer Charles Frederick Worth. Custom-made from scratch, such a dress typically takes between 100 and 400 hours to complete and costs from about $25,000 to over $100,000.

    Historical print

    One of two general types of prints, the other being fine-art prints. The distinction between the two types is not clear-cut (nor is it understood by all experts in the same way), but generally a historical print is one conceived and executed by its maker with more of a focus on the content of the image than its presentation.

    (See also: Fine-art print)

    Hobnail

    An affordable style of glassware popular during the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized by a bumpy decorative surface.

    Horology

    The science of measuring time, often used to refer to the art and craft of making clocks and watches.

    Imported wood

    In the furniture trade, wood that is native to other countries and is brought in to sell in a home country.

    (See also: Domestic wood)

    Impression

    An impression is a single piece of paper with an image printed on it from a matrix. The term as applied to prints is used in a manner similar to the term "copy" as applied to a book.

    Inlay

    A surface decoration in furniture made from pieces of metal, mother-of-pearl, ivory, hot sulfur, wax, glass, or small pieces of wood veneer.

    Inscribed edition

    A book that, in addition to the author's signature, also has a note personally written by the author to a particular person. In general, the more the author writes the more value it adds to the book.

    Intaglio

    A technique of engraving that consists of cutting a figure or design into an object, such as glass or a gemstone. The decoration lies below the surface plane, making it the opposite of carving in relief.

    (See also: Cameo)

    Intaglio print

    A print whose image is printed from a recessed design incised or etched into the surface of a plate. In this type of print the ink lies below the surface of the plate and is transferred to the paper under pressure. The printed lines of an intaglio print stand in relief on the paper.

    (See also: Relief print)

    Iridescence

    A lustrous, pearly quality created on the surface of glass. In ancient glass, weathering created this effect, but in modern glassmaking it is created by spraying metallic vapors and oxides on hot glass.

    Jabot

    A decorative frill of lace or other delicate fabric pinned at the chest or base of the neck. Originally a 16th-century item of male dress, the jabot became popular with women from the mid 19th century until the 1920s and 30s.

    Jade

    A hard, typically green stone that is often used for ornaments and implements. It consists of two mineral varieties: jadeite and nephrite. While the term jade technically encompasses both of these mineral varieties, in the art and jewelry trades, "jade" is commonly used to refer to nephrite stones.

    (See also: Jadeite, Nephrite)

    Jadeite

    One of two varieties of jade, jadeite is a mineral, usually emerald to light green, often used in jewelry and ornamental carvings. It is rarer than nephrite — its sister variety of jade — and can sometimes be bright green, purple, blue, or red. In the art and jewelry trades, it is most commonly referred to as jadeite and not by its parent name, jade.

    (See also: Jade, Nephrite)

    Jugate

    Within the political collectibles trade, jugate refers to an image that consists of two side-by-side portraits, often of presidential and vice-presidential running mates, such as may be seen on campaign posters, buttons, and signs.

    Karat

    The common unit of measurement for gold. Karat refers to the amount of pure gold in a piece, rather than the weight; pure gold is 24 karat. Karat is often abbreviated as KT.

    (See also: Carat)

    Knickerbockers

    Loose, full breeches that are gathered below the knee and fastened by a button or buckle. they have been worn by men since the 18th century and became an integral part of women's sporting attire in the 1890s. Yves St. Laurent made them fashionable again in the 1960s and early 1970s.

    Labeled

    In musical instruments, the term refers to having a paper label that bears the name of the maker. Generally, all such labels are viewed skeptically, as many are inaccurate or forged.

    Laid down

    In the field of paintings, this phrase refers to a work that has being mounted or glued to a board, which often harms the value of the painting if it was not done by the original artist.

    Leaded glass

    Glass that contains at least 20% lead oxide through a technique first developed by George Ravenscroft (1632-1683). The formula creates relatively soft glass that has a brilliance often enhanced by decorating the surface with polished geometric wheel-cut facets.

    Limited edition

    An edition of an art print or book that is limited in number. Often this indicates a specially made collectors' edition, though sometimes it is intended solely to raise the sales value of the prints or books.

    Lithography

    A much-valued and popular printing process that came of age in the late 19th century. It uses stone (usually limestone), and sometimes sheets of metal, marked with grease or oil to print multiple copies of the same image onto paper.

    Louis heel

    First named in the reign of the French King Louis XIV. In the second half of the 19th century the term referred to a thick, often covered shoe heel that tapers at the midsection before flaring outward at the bottom.

    Mantilla

    A large shawl worn by women, originally in Spain, covering only the head and shoulders.

    Mantle

    An outer garment gathered at the neck, without sleeves, often with a hood. Its design has changed very little since the Middle Ages.

    Maquette

    A small-scale model produced in preparation for making a finished sculpture, in order to visualize the object before money is spent to produce a full-sized work or art.

    Marquetry

    The art of using pieces of differently shaded wood veneer to create decorative representations, such as flowers and faces, on the surface of furniture.

    (See also: Parquetry)

    Materials

    In the antiques and collectibles business, the term refers to what an object is made out of, such as wood, clay or tin.

    Matrix

    A matrix is an object upon which a design has been formed and that is then used to make an impression on a piece of paper, thus creating a print. A wood block, metal plate, or lithographic stone can each be used as a matrix.

    Memorabilia

    Objects that have a specific use at the time they are made, such as a baseball or a trophy, but which tend to gain value over time as a result of their associations and history, rather than for their original utility.

    Millefiore

    An Italian word meaning "a thousand flowers" that refers to a Venetian glass-making technique. It consists of fusing multi-colored glass canes together, cutting them crosswise, and embedding them in clear molten glass to create a floral-like design.

    Miniature

    Usually a book under 3 inches in any dimension. There are a few exceptions for books that are more than a few hundred years old. The earliest miniatures were devotional books that could be easily carried. They are now printed mainly as novelty items.

    Mold-blown glass

    Glassware that is made by inflating molten glass into a mold. The glass is forced against the inner surfaces of the mold and assumes its shape, together with any decoration that has been designed into the mold.

    Monogram

    A design, often elaborate, using letters typically representing the initials of a name, which is added to silver or other valuable objects to identify the owner.

    Monumental

    In the context of art glass, a very large piece.

    Mortice and tenon

    In woodworking, a joint that consists of a square hole on one piece of wood filled by a square peg from another, creating a strong natural joint.

    Mounting

    Preparing a painting or other image for display by affixing the image to a backdrop, such as a matte board, or by placing it within a wooden frame, as is done with oil paintings.

    Mule

    Heeled, backless bedroom slipper that has been popular since the 1940s.

    Nephrite

    One of two varieties of jade, nephrite is a pale green or white mineral that is often used in jewelry and ornamental carvings. It is more common than jadeite, its sister variety of jade. In the art and jewelry trades, it is commonly referred to by its parent name, "jade."

    (See also: Jade, Jadeite)

    Niello

    A decorative black enamel made of copper, silver, and lead sulphides; used as inlay on engraved or etched metal.

    Nylon

    The first commercially viable synthetic polymer, developed by DuPont in 1935. "Nylons" became famous around 1940 as durable and affordable alternative to silk stockings for ladies.

    Offset reproduction

    Prints made using the offset printing process (also called photo offset or offset lithography), in which the inked image is transferred or "offset" from a plate to a rubber blanket and then transferred to the printing surface. Offset printing is popular because it produces quick copies of consistently high-quality images.

    Old Masters

    The panoply of great European artists from the 15th to the early 18th centuries, such as Rembrandt, Michelangelo, Leonardo, Rubens, Raphael, and Titian, who created hundreds of masterpieces and developed many of the painting principles used in art schools today.

    Olla

    Spanish for "pot," the term usually refers to one of the most common kinds of unglazed pot, known for its spherical body and wide mouth, made by the native peoples of North and Central America for hundreds of years.

    Organdie

    A fine, translucent cotton fabric.

    Organza

    A thin, transparent silk or nylon fabric.

    Original finish

    The first protective coating-including varnish, wax, polish, or paint-that was applied to a piece of furiture, or other object. Antiques still in this condition are highly valued by serious collectors because pieces are commonly refinished by an owner at some point in their history.

    Original print

    A print that is handmade from a one-of-a-kind template such as a copper plate, wood block, or limestone, considered more valuable than mechanical reproductions.

    Ormolu

    An alloy of copper, zinc, and tin that resembles gold and is used to decorate jewelry, furniture, and architectural details.

    Orotone

    A type of photographic print developed around the turn of the 20th century, created by printing a positive on a glass, backed with a gold-colored pigment mixed with banana oil (iso-amyl acetate). Alternatively, the glass plate can be gold-leafed by hand using 23-karat gold leaf. Orotone is also known as gold tone.

    Out of print

    A term indicating that a book cannot be obtained new from the publisher.

    Painted rug

    In the rug industry, a term synonymous with "tinted" that refers to a rugs that have been doctored with a permanent dye or other color to hide wear. Rugs are sometimes painted by unscrupulous sellers who are trying to disguise wear from potential buyers.

    Parquetry

    The art of using pieces of differently shaded wood veneer to create decorative geometrical patterns on the surface of furniture.

    (See also: Marquetry)

    Parure

    Derived from a French term meaning "adornment," it refers to a matched set of jewelry consisting of three or more pieces.

    Pate-sur-pate

    A French phrase meaning "paste-on-paste" that refers to a method of decorating porcelain. It consists of adding layers of white slip (liquid clay) to an unfired, unglazed piece to create a raised design.

    Patina

    The change in appearance over time of an antique or collectible, caused by use, handling, chemical changes in the finish, and the build-up of dirt, grease, or polish, all of which give objects an "old look" often treasured by collectors.

    (Read more: What "Patina" Really Means)

    Photography

    Literally meaning "writing with light," it is the art of creating images from the interaction of light with chemicals placed on paper, glass, copper, leather, wood, porcelain, fabric, or plastic.

    Plain bracket foot

    In furniture, a simple foot, shaped like a bracket, used in case pieces. It can be plain, scrolled, or molded.

    Planographic print

    A print whose image is printed off a flat surface from a design drawn on a stone or plate using a grease crayon or with a greasy ink. In this type of print the printing ink is absorbed by the greasy design on the stone and is transferred to the paper under light pressure.

    Plate

    In printing, a flat sheet of metal, usually copper, steel or zinc, used as a matrix for a print. Metal plates are used for intaglio prints and for some lithographs.

    Plein air

    A French phrase meaning "open air," generally used to refer to paintings executed outdoors in a natural setting.

    Pontil

    The solid metal rod, also known as a punty, that is usually tipped with a wad of hot glass and attached to the bottom of a glass vessel to enable handling while it is very hot and being shaped. When removed from the object, it often leaves an irregular or ring-shaped scar, called a pontil mark, on the base of the glassware.

    Poupée, à la

    A technique of color printing whereby colored ink is applied directly to a plate's surface and worked into the appropriate areas of the design using cotton daubs called dollies, or in French, poupées.

    Pressed glass

    Glassware formed by squeezing molten glass in a metal mold using a metal plunger or "follower." Glass made this way, developed in the United States between 1820 and 1830, is sometimes called "mold-pressed." Pressed glass has an interior form that is independent of the exterior form, in contrast to mold-blown glass, whose interior shape echoes its exterior shape.

    (See also: Mold-blown glass)

    Prêt-à-porter

    A French term meaning "ready to wear," referring to garments that are not made to measure, but are sold off the rack in a variety of standard sizes.

    Princess line

    A sleek-fitting dress line achieved by making a garment without a waist seam. A popular style from the mid-19th century, the dress style was fitted over crinolines and bustles with a gored skirt to create sufficient fullness.

    Print

    A piece of paper upon which an image has been imprinted from a matrix. In a general sense, a print is the set of all the impressions made from the same matrix. By its nature, a print can have multiple impressions.

    Printing date

    The date when a book was printed. It usually appears at the bottom of the title page and will differ from the copyright date if the book is not a first edition.

    Provenance

    A term that refers to an object's path through time, its "life experience," including who owned it, when, where and for how long-all of which, if known and verified, often adds significant value to an antique or collectible.

    Relief print

    A print whose image is printed from a design raised on the surface of a block. In this type of print the ink lies on the top of the block and is transferred to the paper under light pressure.

    (See also: Intaglio print)

    Repoussé

    A French word meaning "pushed out" used to describe a process for embossing silver. It is done by placing a silver sheet on a soft material, such as wax or a soft wood, and punching the inside of the metal to create designs on the outside.

    Reproduction (general)

    A copy of an original, openly advertised as being a copy.

    (See also: Fake)

    Reproduction (print)

    A reproduction is a copy of an original print or other art work whose matrix design is transferred from the original by a photomechanical process. A facsimile is a reproduction done to the same scale and appearance as the original.

    Reticule

    A small handbag formed in any number of shapes (hearts, etc.), highly fashionable among ladies toward the end of the 18th century.

    Rhinestone

    A lead crystal originally sifted from the Rhine River, or a faceted chunk of glass, usually backed with foil, often used to decorate jewelry or clothing.

    Rifling

    Spiral grooves on the inside of a gun barrel that impart spin to the ammunition as it is fired, giving its path towards the target greater stability and accuracy than was generally possible with smoothbore gun barrels. Rifled gun barrels require precision manufacturing and did not become common until the 19th century.

    Rococo

    A curvaceous and highly ornate style of furniture and architecture developed by Parisian artists and designers in the early 18th century, which eventually supplanted the equally ornate but often ponderous Baroque style.

    (See also: Baroque)

    Sang de boeuf

    A French phrase meaning "blood of the ox," it refers to the striking blood-red glaze first used by Chinese potters hundreds of years ago, and kept a secret from American and European potters until the 1920s.

    Satin

    Closely woven silk with a lustrous face.

    Screen print

    An early 20th-century method of creating an image that uses a stencil with very small holes to apply colors and designs. It was the most common method of making color prints and posters in the 20th century.

    Shantung

    A hand-loomed silk originally produced in Shantung (or Shandong), China, the fabric has random irregularities of texture and has often been used for evening wear in the West.

    Sheffield plating

    A technique invented in 1742 by Thomas Boulsover of Sheffield, England, whereby a sterling silver coating is fused to copper sheets in a furnace. The edges were then rolled over to hide the copper that was visible when the sheet was cut. The plated silver was less expensive than sterling, making it available to the middle classes, but it is also less valuable than sterling because the copper eventually shows through.

    (See also: Silver plating and Electroplating)

    Signed edition

    A book that the author has personally signed.

    (See also: Inscribed edition)

    Silver plating

    A process whereby a metal is coated with silver in order to give it the appearance of being made of silver. One such process, called Sheffield plating, was invented in 1742 and consisted of fusing sterling silver around copper using heat. This was replaced by electroplating, a process developed in the 1840s.

    (See also: Sheffield plating and Electroplating)

    Simulant

    Inexpensive yet decorative stones used by jewelers to simulate more valuable gems such as sapphires, rubies, or diamonds.

    Smock

    In medieval times a smock was a loose, knee- or calf-length garment with a yoke, made of cotton or linen and worn by women under their gowns. In the 20th century, the smock is a loose, usually lightweight, sleeved garment that has been worn by artists and used as a fashion shape since the 1940s.

    Snood

    Knitted or openwork net which encases the hair at the back of the head, worn with or without a hat. Popular during the 1930s and 40s.

    Soldered

    A term that describes two pieces of metal, such as silver, that are fused by melting an alloy metal, often tin and lead, along their joint.

    Spelter

    In sculpture, a synonym for zinc, a metal that was often used for the figures that adorned the tops of 19th-century mantle clocks.

    Spine

    The part of a book seen when it is standing on a shelf. The spine usually bears at least the book's title and author, sometimes along with other information and/or decoration.

    Stained glass

    Glass that is colored, especially for windows. To provide color, a layer of glass is enameled, painted or stained before being baked onto another glass surface.

    Stenographs

    Colorful silk pictures by Thomas Stevens. Collectors are particular that the picture be in its original matte with all labels complete.

    Sterling

    A term created to describe the standard metal mix in the U.S. and England that is 92.5% silver and 7.5% copper or another metal. Silver is mixed with other metals because pure silver is too soft to be made into useful objects. The sterling standard was established to protect the public against less valuable metals with smaller percentages of silver.

    (See also: Coin silver)

    Stiletto

    A high, narrow shoe heel that originated in Italy during the 1950s, it derives its name from a thin sword used for dueling.

    Style of, in the

    A term indicating that an object was made in the fashion of a certain style or period, but not actually during that period. For example, a 20th-century painting in the Renaissance style.

    Taffeta

    A thin, glossy silk.

    Tatting

    A lace fabric made with a shuttle that is distinguished by rings of knots.

    Ticking

    A strong cotton or linen fabric used for pillow cases and mattresses.

    Tin plate

    The metal, made of thin sheets of steel plated with tin, that was used to create toys far lighter than the cast-iron ones they came to replace.

    Tintype

    An inexpensive photographic process popular from the 1860s to the 1880s that consisted of images exposed on black-lacquered iron.

    Trompe-l'oeil

    A French phrase meaning "fool the eye." It generally refers to works of art, especially paintings, that are meant to deceive the viewer with their extraordinary precision and realism.

    Tulle

    A sheer, delicate silk.

    Vignette

    Refers to an image that does not have a definite border around it. The term also applies to a small image that is part of a larger print.

    Watermark

    A mark in handmade paper that usually identifies the paper maker, and the place and date of its making. It can be seen by holding the paper up to light. It is most common in paper 200 to 300 years old, but still also can be found in some new, high-quality papers.

    Watteau

    A name given to a dress style of the late 19th century that resembled dresses in early 18th-century paintings by Jean Antoine Watteau. Such a dress has a sacque back and a tightly fitted front bodice.

    Woodcut

    A decorative printing technique used since the 9th century, accomplished by cutting wood with knives, chisels, or other sharp tools to create a design. The area that is not cut away becomes the printing surface.

    Wormholes

    A condition problem where pages of a book have holes that look like they were made by a worm crawling through. The damage is created by insects or insect larvae that eat the paper. The problem is more common in older books that were made with better-quality, and more nutritious, paper.





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