There are many different names of a certain furniture item (or a certain part of that piece of furniture) that you will run across. There will be times that it will literally make your head spin on what the word could mean.
Over the years, I’ve noticed that furniture definitely has its own vocabulary. This is especially true when you are dealing with items from overseas. There are many places in Europe that have made furniture, so you will run across words that are from another language.
You never know what you may run across, and here are some of the words that you may scratch your head over:
Pietre Dure—this is decorative work that uses inlaid, semi-precious stones to depict scenes. These scenes are geometric patterns, floral motifs, farm scenes, and many more. More often than not, you will see this on a table top.
Lit de repos—this is a day-bed.
Gueridon—this is a small, round table. It was made to support a candlestick or even a candelabrum. It could almost get away as being called a side table.
Gesso—this is made from a composition material, it’s often made with chalk and parchment. It’s made in a size that is commonly applied to furniture, picture frames and even mirrors. This is a base upon which gilding (or even silvering) was applied to.
Coquille—this is a seashell or scallop shape. The shape will often be seen on the top of a table or chair leg.
This is just a small sample of the vocabulary words that you might hear. What have you heard?
When you look at the area of glassware, you will see many different colors and finishes that the glass was made with. There are as many distinct color combinations as there are manufacturing techniques. Here’s a few of them that you will most likely run across:
Cased Glass—this is glass of one color that has been covered with one or more layers of assorted colors. The outer layers are then acid-etched, carved, cut, or even engraved to produce a design. This design will stand out from the background, and will have a kind of raised motif when done. The first cameo glasses were made by the Romans in ancient times, and the genre was revived in England and America (to a lesser amount) in the late 19th century.
Flashed Glass—this is glass that has one color with a very thin applied color on the outside (like crystal glass that has a cranberry color applied to it). This technique is accomplished by applying a chemical compound to the glass and then re-firing the piece to bring out the desired color. Flashed glass is often used for etched glass (the flashing will be applied after the etching is completed).
Gilding—this is the process of decorating glass using gold leaf, gold paint, or even gold dust. There are examples that have the gilding applied with mercury (it’s called Mercury Gilding. It’s rarely done today due to its toxicity). The gilding is then usually attached to the glass by heat.
Peachblow—this is a type of Art Glass made by quite a few American factories in the late 1800’s. Most Peachblow glass has a coloring that shaded from an opaque cream to pink (or even red), sometimes even over an opaque white. There was a similar glass that was made in England (it was by Thomas Webb & Sons and even Stevens & Williams).
This is only a small sampling of what has been made. What kinds of colored glass have you run across?
When I started to buy and sell pottery, there were some terms that I picked up pretty fast that I use quite often. These terms are pretty common and help describe the manufacturing process of the piece. Here’s some of the terms:
Pinholes—these are faults in the surface of a ceramic body (or even the glaze) that resemble pin pricks. These are not very big at all, and there is usually no other damage around them. Air bubbles are the most common culprit that causes these.
Bloating—this is the permanent swelling of a ceramic piece during the firing in a kiln. It’s caused by the expansion of gases like air not being able to escape out of the piece.
Iron oxide—this is a common oxide in glazes and some clays that generally gives the item a reddish color.
Biscuit pottery—this is also called Bisque pottery. This is pottery that has been fired, but no glaze has been applied to the piece.
This is only a few of the terms out there. What have you heard?
Like pretty much every area in the vintage and collectible world, furniture has its own vocabulary. There are even words and phrases out there that would make you think they mean something completely different. Here’s a few of them:
Dovetail—this is a term in wood working that’s used to designate a method of joinery. This is used a lot to join corners of drawers and cabinets. It’s a series of cuts to make a tenon or tongue that looks the shape of a dove’s tail that interlocks with alternating similar cuts piece of wood.
Vitrine—this is a French term for display or china cabinet. This type of cabinet has large sections made out of glass so that you can show off the items stored inside.
Escutcheon—this is an ornament plate that surrounds a keyhole on a piece of furniture or a door. These plates come in a wide variety of motifs.
This is only a tiny amount of what is out there. What have you heard?
When I first started selling vintage items, I quickly found out that there’s a name for just about every piece out there-even for furniture. I quickly started to learn the names of these pieces when I started to do some basic repairs to the furniture that I bought.
Here’s a few of the terms that I have learned over the years:
Bracket foot–a bracket foot is used on a chest, a chest on chest or even a cabinet. This is a foot that has a straight corner edge and curved inner edges. Sometimes I hear these curved inner edges “scalloped edges”.
Caning—caning is a wood piece that consists of rattan (or even sugar cane) that is made into wicker. There are a wide variety of ways this is used including seats of chairs, patio furniture, etc.
Partner’s desk—a partner’s desk literally looks like two desks that were put together to make one. It’s a desk large enough to seat two people that are facing each other. Each side has their own drawers or cupboards.
What are some of the terms that you have either run across or heard?