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Antique Collectors' Dictionary (B)

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Backgammon Boards: More ornamental than chess boards; inlay examples from the seventeenth century are sometimes to be encountered, usually in walnut and oak. Some such boards were incorporated in gaming tables.

Back Stool: A stool with a back in the late sixteenth and first half of the seventeenth century; but in the latter half of the seventeenth and throughout the eighteenth century the term was used to describe a single armless chair.

Baker Rifle: Iron-ramrod-and-mallet muzzle-loader made by the London gunsmith Ezekiel Baker and used by the British Rifle Brigade in the Napoleonic Wars.

Baku Rugs: Of the Caucasian group, the favoured patterns being geometrical, diamond-shaped medallions, cone shapes, eight-pointed stars; border of three to four stripes; sober colours, blue, brown, yellow, black; Ghiordiz knot; coarse weave.

Balance Wheel: Like the foliot (q.v.) an early form of controller for a clock with a verge escapement; usually a horizontal single-spoked wheel oscillating above a vertical verge.

Ball-and-claw Foot: This termination of a leg in furniture probably derives from the Chinese dragon's claw grasping a ball. First found in English furniture early in the eighteenth century. Sometimes the claw is that of an eagle.

Ball Foot: This ball-shaped termination of a leg in furniture was used in the seventeenth century mainly.

Balloon-back Chair: Victorian, evolving on late Regency, usually straight-legged, swelling curved back nipped-in at waist level; mostly made in sets and in all materials, including papier mache, metal even.

Baluster: A small pillar, usually of pear- or vase-shape, which may be in a series to support the railing of a balustrade, or in sets as for the legs of a table.

Baluster Stem: Pear-shaped decoration on stemmed wooden, pewter, silver or glass vessel or candlestick. On drinking glass stems, the baluster, often inverted, was used in many combinations, with the knop (q.v.), throughout the eighteenth century.

Bamboo: (1) Furniture. As made in the Chinese style from the middle of the eighteenth century, often with the legs turned to resemble bamboo. (2) Pottery. Stoneware made by Wedgwood that, in colour, had some resemblance to bamboo.

Banding: Strip inlay contrasting in colour with background.

Banister-back Chair: Chair-back of slender balusters.

Banjo Barometer: Barometer case so shaped.

Banjo Clock: Wall clock, the casing of banjo shape, invented c. 1800 by the American, Simon Willard.

Bantam-work: A form of japanning that dates from the seventeenth century; the design incised; the name derives from the Dutch trading settlement in the East Indies through which so much of Oriental lacquer passed on its way to Europe. According to Stalker & Parker (q.v.) Bantam-work was almost obsolete by 1688 (the date of their Treatise on Japanning); but they were wrong and the best such work extant dates from the middle of the eighteenth century. (Also called 'Coromandel'.)

Barbeau: French for cornflower and applied to the cornflower pattern frequently employed at Sevres, Chantilly and elsewhere.

Barbotine: Potter's technique in slip decoration, the clay being squeezed through the fingers and worked in detail after being applied.

Barometer: An instrument for measuring atmospheric pressure and, with luck, forecasting weather. The principle of the mercury barometer was discovered, reputedly by accident, by Torricelli c. 1643. By the 1660's experiments were being conducted in England to produce an instrument that would displace the inaccurate weather-glasses of the time. These experiments led to several types of barometer: the Cistern or Torricellian barometer in which the bottom of the vertical glass tube is immersed in a cup or cistern of mercury, the height of mercury in the tube being read against a graduated scale near the top of the instrument; the Inclined or Diagonal or Yard-arm barometer, like the cistern type but with the addition of a horizontal tube inclining at an angle greater than a right angle from the top of the vertical tube; the Syphon barometer, which differs from the cistern type in that the bottom of the tube does not terminate in a cup of mercury but curves upwards again to form an inverted syphon.

These three basic types were made from the end of the seventeenth century, the syphon principle being adopted for the wheel barometer as early as 1670 (though the wheel type, with hands like a clock, did not come into general use until well into the eighteenth century). Many of the great English clock-makers made barometers-Tompion, Quare, Jones, etc., and cases of walnut and mahogany were often elaborately decorated, ormolu-mounted, gilded, japanned, carved. (The compact aneroid barometer was invented about 1844.)

Baronial Furniture: See Abbotsford.

Baroque: Useful but overworked term to describe a style in art that is spirited, dynamic, dramatic, bold, sumptuous, ornate. The baroque originated in Italy and precedes the rococo (q.v.) ; it was based on the classical style and its evolution consisted in the throwing off of classical models-it was a bid for freedom. The heyday of the baroque was from the end of the sixteenth century to the early part of the eighteenth century. In England the influence ranges from Carolean silver to the furniture designs of William Kent.

Basalts: Black stoneware perfected by Wedgwood and very popular for decorative vases, figures, medallions, plaques. This ware was an improvement on the black stoneware made by Elers (q.v.) and was later copied by several makers.

Bas Relief: Modelled decoration in low relief.

Basse Taille Enamel: See Enamel.

Bateman Family of London: Silversmiths. Hester (1709-94) was active 1760-90 and is esteemed for being an early exponent of an austere, plain style, simple and functional. She had two sons who worked in the family business, Peter and Jonathan; then there was Ann, wife of Jonathan, and Ann's son William who was a silversmith of repute in early Victorian times.

Bat Printing: Form of transfer printing used in the decoration of ceramics. In England the process dates from the 1770's. The name derives from the fact that the impression was transferred from a copper plate to the work by means of a 'bat' of gelatine.

Battam Ware (maker's name): Of red or buff clay, imitating ancient Greek pieces; mid-nineteenth century. Thomas Battam may have evolved the formula for Parian ware when working for Copeland.

Battersea Enamel: Painted enamel, the product of a factory set up about 1753 by Stephen Theodore Janssen at York House, Battersea, London. Janssen went bankrupt and the concern was offered for sale in 1756. Objects decorated in this manufacture had a copper base which was coated with tin enamel on which decorative detail was painted or, more usually, transfer-printed. Robert Hancock worked at this factory. Snuff boxes, watch cases, wine labels, are typical. Battersea are the most esteemed of English painted enamels.

Baxter Prints: Nineteenth-century colour prints from wooden blocks for each oil colour, the process being the invention of George Baxter (1804-67).

Baxter, Thomas: China painter active in the early years of the nineteenth century at Worcester particularly, and at Swansea. He excelled at flowers, feathers and shells, landscapes.

Bayonet: The bayonet as a broad-bladed dagger with wooden handle for sticking into a musket barrel can be very oldc. 1580, but at the end of the seventeenth century a Frenchman invented the modern bayonet which fitted into a tubular socket and not into the barrel.

Bayreuth: A faience factory was founded in this Bavarian town in the early years of the eighteenth century and continued in being until well into the nineteenth century (cream-coloured wares in the English manner were made from the 1780's). The usual mark includes the name 'Bayreuth' which is often abbreviated.

Baywood: Term sometimes applied to Honduras mahogany to distinguish it from other varieties. See Mahogany.

Bead: Small, plain quarter-round or half-round moulding used as decoration on furniture; often called beading, particularly when in a sequence.

Bead Moulding: Moulding like a string of beads. 'Bead and Reel' moulding is the term when the 'beads' are alternately rounded and oblong.

Bead Work: Purses, tea cosies, cushion and stool covers, banner screens, bell-pulls, mantel drapes, lamp shades, various items of female wearing apparel (including garters), caskets, baskets-these items and many more are to be found ornamented with beads. Few examples earlier than the eighteenth century survive.

Beaker: Tall cup without handles, the sides tapering outwards from the base.

Beaufait (Buffet): A term used in the eighteenth century for a recess for the storage and display of glass and ceramics. It is defined in the Cabinet Dictionary (1803) as a piece of furniture with covered doors in the lower portion and tiers of shelves above. But associated with food throughout the ages.

Beauvais: A centre of tapestry-weaving in France. A factory was founded there, reputedly with state aid, about 1665, and throughout the remainder of the seventeenth century and most of the eighteenth century produced tapestries that were the finest being made in France. Important figures associated with Beauvais were Behagle, Oudry, Boucher. Tapestry covers for furniture are a feature of the eighteenth and nineteenth century.

Beech: A timber of light brown colour, tough but easily worked. It takes stain well and was much used for stained, painted and gilded furniture. (First used about the middle of the seventeenth century.)

Beleek: The porcelain factory founded in 1857 at Beleek, Co. Fermanagh, Ireland, to exploit the possibilities of the local china clay and felspar. The felspar was of considerable purity and permitted a very thin and extremely translucent ware which, covered with a thick glaze, has a unique pearly sheen. The factory traded as D. McBirney & Co. The mark incorporates an Irish round tower, the harp and greyhound and three-leaved shamrock.

Bellarmine: A pottery jug with narrow neck and large belly and a bearded mask on the neck. Made principally in Germany and Holland but also at Fulham (q.v.) in the second half of the seventeenth century.

Bellows: Engines 'to make wind' are of considerable antiquity but the collector will be fortunate to find a pair of hand bellows earlier than the eighteenth century. The form has changed but little: matching shaped boards, a metal nozzle, extending leather sides=this was the basic form in the early seventeenth century. Carved, inlaid, japanned, embroidered, much skill was spent on the decoration of hand bellows in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Standing bellows were more businesslike machines enclosed in a frame and worked by means of a lever or a wheel.

Beneman, Jean Guillaume: German-born French cabinetmaker active from 1785 to the end of the century. Commodes were a speciality. Employed by the Crown, he made a lot of furniture for Marie Antoinette.

Bentley, Thomas (1730-80): Merchant and connoisseur who in 1769 entered into partnership with Josiah Wedgwood, a partnership which lasted till Bentley's death. See Wedgwood.

Bentwood: Steam-heating process (an Austrian invention) by which wood could be bent or curved, introduced into England about 1850 and popular at once, especially for chairs. Birch wood used a lot, with cane backs and seats; sometimes glossy black, sometimes stained to imitate mahogany.

Berain, Jean: French designer active in the second half of the seventeenth century. He must have been one of the first specialists in interior decoration, but was much more than that: he piloted public taste from the Baroque to the Rococo and his influence on the design of ceramics, furniture, tapestries, clothes and the fine arts in general was to go on making itself felt long after his death and in most of the countries of Europe.

Bergama Rugs: After Pergamus, whence parchment also came. Sturdy, squarish rugs, dark blue and white on red grounds, long pile, coarse weave (fifty to sixty-five Ghiordiz knots to the square inch); red end webs of Turcoman type, and one to four border stripes geometrically patterned.

Bergere (French): A type of armchair first made in France circa 1725; it has a well-rounded back, comfortable padded arms and upholstered sides, sometimes wings as well. In England the word 'Berger' is often used to denote this kind of chair; but in fact there was a considerable revival in Victorian times when the bergJre was made with higher back and shorter legs than hitherto.

Berlin Porcelain: A Berlin factory was founded in 1752 by one Wilhelm Kaspar Wegely who had the aid of Johann Benckgraff from Vienna and the approval of Frederick the Great. Hard-paste porcelain was made, mostly in the manner of Meissen. The factory closed in 1757. The mark is the letter 'w'.

In 1761 another factory was established, this time by Johann Ernst Gotzkowsky; it was acquired in 1763 by Frederick and became known as the Konigliche Porzellanmanufaktur, by which name it was known until the First World War when the style changed to Staatliche Porzellanmanufaktur. The letter 'G' is the earliest mark (1761-3), then a sceptre until about 1830, after which the letters 'KPM' in conjunction with an orb or a Prussian eagle were used.

Beshir Rugs: Turcoman rugs in blue, yellow, red, brown, white; one- to three-stripe border; coarse weave, but these rugs are extremely durable.

Bezel: A slope, a sloping face. The groove, flange, lip or ring that holds the glass of a watch or clock, or the stone of a jewel or ring in its setting.

Bianco Sopra Bianco (Italian=white on white): Originally, white pigment decoration used on a white or bluish-white glaze by early Italian makers of maiolica. A popular decoration at Bristol and some other delftware centres during the eighteenth century, though the ground colour was more likely to be blue or pale grey.

Bidet: Raised narrow bath that can be bestridden', invented in France early in the seventeenth century. Lavishly decorated examples were made; some carried humorous inscriptions.

Biedermeier: A German style of decoration lasting from the Wars of Liberation (1815) to about 1848. In furniture the distinguishing feature is a preference for curved supports in tables, case-furniture and chairs (this curve extending to the chairback).

Bijouterie: Jewellery, trinkets. Also a small display case, with tapered legs and a framed, hinged, glass lid, for displaying small objects usually against a velvet lining.