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Antique Collectors' Dictionary (E)

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Earthenware: The oldest ceramic substance; pottery of baked clay too porous to use in biscuit state and requiring glaze; unvitrified pottery (see Stoneware). Earthenware is usually classified according to the glazing and decoration that is added to it-e.g. slipware, creamware, delft, faience, maiolica (qq.v.).

East, Edward: 'Watch-maker, Citizen and Goldsmith of London.' Born at Southill, Beds., 1602, he was famous first for his watches (watch-maker to Charles I), later for his clocks; the workmanship was always superb.

Easy Chair: The term dates from the late seventeenth century or early eighteenth century as applied to a chair 'adapted for ease or repose'. In Sheraton's Cabinet Dictionary (1803) we read of a tub-shaped chair 'stuffed all over and intended for sick persons, being both easy and warm...'

Eaton Hall Chairs: As designed by A. Waterhouse for Eaton Hall in 1867. Circular seat; curved, padded back rails and arms which form a semi-circle; usually of mahogany; luxuriously upholstered; short, turned legs.

Ebeniste: The French term for cabinet-maker, literally meaning one who works in ebony, it came to imply one who worked in veneers.

Ebonise: Staining wood to look like ebony.

Echinus Moulding: Quarter-round moulding.

Ecuelle: Continental type of silver porringer and cover, shallower than the English and with two flat, pierced handles. Huguenot silversmiths introduced the ecuelle into England.

Egg-and-dart and Egg-and-tongue: Ornamental moulding of alternative egg-shapes and dart or tongue shapes.

Egg-shell Porcelain: Porcelain of extreme thinness as first made in China at the beginning of the fifteenth century (the Yung Lo period) and again under K'ang-hsi, Yung Cheng and Ch'ien Lung (1662-1795). Certain nineteenth-century English factories-especially Minton-produced egg-shell wares.

Egyptian Black: Basalts (q.v.).

Elers, David and John: The Elers brothers, from Holland, are said to have been silversmiths originally, but by 1690 they were active as potters making red stoneware in London. In 1693 they moved to North Staffordshire and continued to make, at Bradwell Wood, the red ware with which their name is associated, until about 1698.

Empire: The style and period of the first Empire in France, say 1794-1830. The furniture was based on styles of antiquity, much use being made of wreaths and pateras, urns, winged figures, clawed feet, brasses, mahogany, rosewood.

Enamel: Made by fusing a paste of powdered glass on to a base of metal, usually copper, bronze or gold. The basic technique: moistened paste is spread over the metal base, the object fired in a kiln and the heat melts the paste which adheres to the metal. The art of enamelling is of considerable antiquity and probably had its origins in Greece and/or Etruria between the sixth and third centuries B.c. The most important classifications are: (1) Cloisonne, in which the design is divided by metal strips, soldered on to the ground, forming small compartments, or cloisons, which are filled with enamel; (2) Champleve, in which small compartments are hollowed out of the ground, to keep the enamels separate; (3) Basse Taille or En Plein, in which the ground is first carved or engraved at a slightly sunken level which is 'topped up' with enamel; (4) painted enamels, in which pictures or designs are painted upon an undercoat of white enamel; (5) plique d jour, in which translucent enamel is strengthened by internal strips of metal-like stained-glass windows.

Encaustic: Burned-in colour.

Encoignure: French term for a corner cupboard (q.v.). Popular for the greater part of the eighteenth century.

En Plein Enamel: See Enamel.

Epergne: Centre dish for the table, often having branches which support small dishes or baskets for sweetmeats, etc.; of silver usually, or porcelain.

Escapement: The means of control over the driving force of a clock or watch; the device that permits the power to 'escape' to the pendulum or balance. The first mechanical escapement was the Verge, said to have been quite well known by 1350, in which two pallets alternately trap and release a saw-edged tooth of the crown wheel (the escape wheel). Its worst feature was that it never left the pendulum free, whereas the ideal escapement is that which leaves the pendulum free for the greatest length of time. There were many attempts at improvement but not until 1671 did William Clement invent (or perfect) the Anchor escapement, so called because the curved arm and two pallets suggest the head and flukes of an anchor. This was a great step forward. There was less interference with the escape wheel. The wide swing of the verge escapement pendulum, which kept the pendulum short, was replaced by the long, slow-swinging pendulum moving through an arc of as little as four degrees, thus minimizing error and allowing for a beat of one second (and the second hand) and the evolution of the long-case clock. The only fault was the shudder or recoil caused by the jarring that accompanied the engagement of the pallets with the teeth of the escape wheel. Hence the next improvement, the Dead Beat escapement, a modification of the anchor escapement, in which the pallets bed 'dead' on to the escape wheel teeth and abolish recoil or jarring, thus making for greater accuracy. Invented by George Graham in 1715 the dead beat escapement is still in use today. It should be noted that clocks were often converted when a marked technical improvement was invented; but there will normally be evidence of the conversion.<./p>

Escritoire: See Scrutoire.

Escutcheon: (1) A shield-shaped surface on which a coat-ofarms, cypher or other device appears. (2) A metal plate pierced for a key-hole.

Espagnolette (French): Gillot and his pupil, Watteau, made fashionable this decorative motif of the stiff lace collar worn by Spanish women. It developed into a pattern used by furniture designers and is to be found on Regence writing tables and chests of drawers.

Etagere: Decorative drawing-room table with one or two graduated tiers above main top, the separating pillars usually ormolu; of satinwood, kingwood, tulipwood, mahogany; legs, usually cabriole, sometimes straight tapered, ormolu-mounted.

Etruria: The name Josiah Wedgwood gave to the factory (and village that grew up round it) he opened in 1769. He chose this name because he wished to revive the pottery-making art of the Etruscans.

Etui: Small box for the use of ladies; fitted with compartments to contain scissors and other personal objects; of pinchbeck often but also silver, porcelain, etc.

Ewer: Usually with basin or dish. The most common form is the swelling vase shape with small mouth but largish lip and handle curving quite tightly to reach a higher point than the top of the vessel; the helmet shape is frequently encountered.

Ewery Cupboard: The ewer and basin (see above) stood on this low cupboard which contained toilet accessories.