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Antique Collectors' Dictionary (L)

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Laburnum: Hard wood of yellowish tint streaked with brown, used for parquetry veneer from the end of the seventeenth century.

Lace Glass: Vetro de trina, the finest work in the latticino (q.v.) technique.

Lacquer: The art of lacquering (which was known in China as early as the middle of the first millennium B.c.) originated in the discovery of the protective properties of the sap of the lac-tree (Rhus vernicifera) which can be used to coat almost any material and forms a hard semi-transparent film. Chinese lacquering falls into three groups: (1) the ornament raised in low relief; (2) painted upon the surface, and (3) cut or incised. The trade in Chinese lacquered goods was extensive in the early eighteenth century and patterns of cabinet work were sent out to China in the reign of Charles II to teach the Chinese what manufactured goods were required for the English market. See Japanning.

Ladder-back: Chair-back with horizontal rails like a ladder, though the rails were usually curved. Popular in the middle years of the eighteenth century.

Ladik Rugs: The old Laodicea is now the village Ladik where these rugs with hexagonal medallions and vandyke end-panels are made in red and blue and supporting colours. Medium weave.

Lambeth: Loosely used term for tin-enamelled earthenware (delft, q.v.) as made at Lambeth, Southwark and other London riverside potworks in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Lambrequin (French): A design, generally with a shaped or scalloped edge, which may be painted, chased or engraved; sometimes taking the form of a piece of drapery, it can also be imitative of lace or wrought-iron decoration.

Lamerie, Paul de (?-1751): Huguenot silversmith who worked in London from c. 1712 and taught English silversmiths much of the rococo while producing silver wares of great beauty and value.

Lancashire Chair: An oak type, with solid back panel surmounted by lunette-shaped cresting.

Langley, Batty and Thomas: The Langley brothers, designers and architects, published in 1740 a work entitled The City and Country Builder's and Workman's Treasury of Designs, which included furniture designs in the French manner.

Langlois, Peter: French cabinet-maker who worked in London in the 1760's, specializing in inlaid work 'in the politest manner'. Horace Walpole was a customer.

Lantern Clock: Earliest type of domestic clock in general use in England. See Clocks.

Larch: The wood of this conifer is hard and tough and the grain is straight, but it warps badly and for this reason it was seldom used in furniture-making. It was, however, employed for carcase work in the late eighteenth century.

Latten: A base yellow alloy of zinc and copper; like brass.

Lattice-work: Furniture (chairs particularly) of the mid-eighteenth century in the Chinese taste made use of latticework decoration. See Fretwork.

Latticinio or Latticino: A glass decorating technique, of Venetian origin, though the Romans had something very like it. The process, at its simplest for drinking glass stems, involved placing opaque and/or coloured canes in a mould into which clear glass was poured. After fusion and cooling the resultant rod could be reheated and stretched to the thickness of a glass stem, the enclosed canes becoming mere threads. Twisting supplied a spiral. The same basic process in more complicated forms was applied to vases and plates, for which the threads were tooled into a network and melted into the surface of the clear ware. Long in favour-sixteenth to eighteenth centuriesand revived most successfully, at Nailsea particularly, during the nineteenth century.

Leather: Leather-covered furniture figures widely in the inventories of the sixteenth century. For Cromwellian chairs a favoured covering was leather fastened with brass-headed nails. Later came painted and gilded leather and about 1750 red morocco as a chair covering was in use. Generally speaking leather was employed on chairs that were made for hard usage. Leather hangings, popular in some Continental countries such as Spain, never seem to have found much favour in England.

Le Bran, Charles (1619-90): Foremost among the artists patronized by Louis XIV, responsible for the decoration of the Gallery of Apollo in the Louvre and director of Gobelins tapestry manufactory in its first and greatest period.

Leeds: The most important of the Yorkshire potteries, the factory founded about 1760 by the Green brothers, to be known from the mid-1770's as Humble, Green & Co., by the end of the century as Hartley, Greens & Co., and trading under several names and ownerships from 1820 till its close in 1878. Leeds is best known for its creamware, particularly pierced work at which the factory was pre-eminent, but various types of earthenware and stoneware were made, including Wedgwood-like black basalts. Marks usually comprised the name of the firm.

Lei (Chinese): Ancient bronze vessel, intended for wine, ovoid in shape, often with a looped handle.

Lelea, M. J. F.: French eighteenth-century cabinet-maker who worked under Oeben (q.v.).

Lenticle: The 'porthole' in the trunk of a long-case clock through which the pendulum bob can be seen.

Li (Chinese): Udder-shaped cooking vessel probably first evolved in Neolithic pottery; the bronze Ii is considered the earliest of all Chinese metal vessels; stands on three feet usually.

Library Chair: Chairs made specifically for reading in the library date from the early eighteenth century. The top rail curves round to become an arm-rest from which a canted board angles up and back to afford a rest for book or writing paper, and the reader sits back to front in the chair. A Library or Reading chair of the Regency period was more likely to be caned, with removable leather-covered cushions, and to have an adjustable book-rest attached to one arm.

Library Steps: Date from about the middle of the eighteenth century. Folding steps, in combination with chairs, tables, and the like, are often very ingenious as regards their construction.

Library Table: A writing-table, especially ont, of twinpedestal type, specifically made for the library from the middle of the eighteenth century. A distinct type, circular or square, supported by a single pedestal with winged legs, and having space in the frieze for books (a single shelf right round the table in fact), was made at the end of the eighteenth century.

Lignum Vitae: A West Indian wood, dark brown with strong veining and streaked with black. Imported into England during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Very hard. Used as parquetry and in veneering.

Lille Porcelain: A soft-paste porcelain factory was founded at Lille, France, about 1711 and continued in production until 1730, although production seems to have been small and examples are rare. A hard-paste factory was established about 1784 and lasted until the early years of the nineteenth century. This factory, the first in France to use coal for firing, had an appointment to the Dauphin, hence its mark, a crowned dolphin.

Limbach Porcelain: A porcelain factory founded at Limbach, Thuringia, Germany, about 1772 by Gotthelf Greiner for the production of useful wares that have little artistic merit. The Greiner family established several factories in Thuringia-at Grossbreitenbach, Ilmenau, Gera, Rauenstein.

Lime: A wood of light straw colour with close, compact grain; easy to work and much favoured for ornamental carving.

Limehouse: There was a porcelain factory in this district of London c. 1747 but its life was a short one and no wares have been definitely attributed to it.

Limoges Enamel: The French town of Limoges was a famous centre of enamelling in medieval times and developed a trade that covered Europe. Painted enamels of the sixteenth century are superb.

Limoges Porcelain: The first porcelain factory at Limoges, France, was founded in 1771, purchased by the King in 1784 and for a time served as a branch of Sevres. A number of porcelain factories were founded at and near Limoges during the nineteenth century owing to the kaolin deposits in the area.

Linenfold Pattern: The decorative device for panel enrichment (variously termed drapery and parchment-scroll pattern) appears in the carved work of French and Flemish artists about the middle of the fifteenth century. The resemblance to folded linen is very slight in early examples, but later variations show a tendency towards complexity and the upper and lower edges are sometimes fantastically cut and shaped. The vogue in England lasted from the last quarter of the fifteenth century to the middle of the sixteenth.

Linen-press: A device for pressing linen. The structure comprises a frame and base board, and a matching top board which was attached to a wooden, spiral screw. Examples from the seventeenth century survive.

Ling Lung: Chinese porcelain bowl or dish with pierced sides.

Linnell, John (?-1796): Cabinet-maker, designer, carver, who supplied many noted figures of his day with furniture in the Chinese and rococo styles then prevalent. Many of his designs are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London.

Lion's Mask: Decoration used by furniture-makers (particularly on the knees of cabriole legs) from about 1720 to 1740 and again during the Regency. This motif was also used by metalworkers.

Lithography: The printing process, based on the antipathy of grease and water, invented in the late eighteenth century by Senefelder, first used as a form of transfer-printing on ceramics in England about 1840 but never very successfully until the present century.

Lithophane: A plaque of porcelain or bone china, very thin, bearing a design or picture engraved, and meant to be viewed against a light; nineteenth century.

Littler, William: Eighteenth-century Staffordshire potter noted for his salt-glazed stoneware, produced at Brownhills, near Burslem, and for the porcelain made at Longton Hall (q.v.), the factory he founded about 1750. Littler is credited with the introduction of cobalt blue to Staffordshire.

Liverpool: Considering the amount of ceramics produced at and near Liverpool extraordinarily few facts are known. It was certainly an early centre for delftware, the manufacture of which was in decline by the last quarter of the eighteenth century. But earthenware of all kinds was made throughout the eighteenth century and it is probable that the export trade to America was much larger than is generally realized. The making of porcelain probably dates from the 1750's and it is considered that there were a number of small factories engaged in its manufacture. The only factory of which even a little is known is that of Richard Chaff'ers, who made a porcelain containing soaprock which resembles early Worcester. Decoration is in the Chinese manner. The factory is thought to have been active 1756-65. John Sadler of Liverpool, in partnership with Guy Green, was one of the earliest to use transfer-printing; he may even have invented the process in the early 1750's.

Livery Cupboard: A cupboard which during the sixteenth century and the first half of the seventeenth century served to contain 'liveries' (consisting of food, drink and candles) given out at night-time to members of a household, and guests.

Lobby Chest: Diminutive chest of drawers.

Lobing: See Gadrooning.

Locking Plate: Striking System in a clock of striking the hours and sometimes the half-hours by means of a locking wheel or plate in which notches are cut, the notches being farther and farther apart from the one o'clock position round to the twelve o'clock position. Dates from about 1625 but was ousted in the late 1670's by Barlow's rack and snail striking (q.v.).

Lock, Matthias: Carver and designer of whom little is known. He was active 1740-70 and during that time he published several works of furniture designs (some in collaboration with a colleague named Copland) whose titles usually began A New Book of Ornaments. . . . It is thought now that Lock and Copland deserve a good deal of the credit for translating the French rococo style into English terms as regards furniture making, and, moreover, they seem to have been the draughtsmen who did many of the plates in Chippendale's Director.

Locks: The lock was probably an Egyptian invention that goes back more than 4,000 years. 'Warded' locks (i.e. a lock with a fixed obstruction to prevent the wrong key from entering) are very old; superb examples were made in medieval times. Next comes the 'tumbler' lock, which differs from the ward in that the obstruction moves when the right key is inserted. The tumbler lock is thought to have been a Chinese invention. Another basic form of lock is the combination or 'letter' lock in which the letters of the alphabet are engraved on revolving rings (four usually), the mechanism being set to permit the lock to open only if the correct combination is known.

For domestic locks the two basic actions are the bolt and the latch. The bolt slides horizontally to engage in a plate or catch in the door jamb; the latch is hinged at one end, the other, free end engaging in a catch on the doorjamb. The lock protected by a metal case dates back (in England) to the early sixteenth century. By the second half of the seventeenth century these cases were the subject of engraved and pierced decoration of great skill and richness.

The mortise lock came into use in the middle of the eighteenth century and brought with it another kind of door furniture, this being the plate to accommodate the door handle, the escutcheon and (sometimes) a smaller handle to operate the bolt.

Long-case Clock: The correct name for a grandfather clock; first made c. 1660.

Long Elizas (from the Dutch Lange Lyzen): The elongated Chinese girls on Chinese porcelains, copied by English eighteenth-century makers, especially Worcester.

Longton Hall: Facts about this porcelain factory, probably the first established in Staffordshire, are elusive. It seems to have been founded in 1751 by a partnership of which the leading spirit was William Littler, who had been engaged in the manufacture of salt-glazed stoneware at Brownhills, the style of the firm being Littler & Co. The factory closed in (perhaps before) 1760. Two types of soft-paste porcelain were made. The first is crude, rather heavy, with 'moons' often and with an uneven surface; dishes in the form of leaves are typical. Later a somewhat finer ware was produced which approaches Chelsea in quality. Longton Hall figures are esteemed and much sought by collectors. Crossed 'L's' are the usual mark.

Loo Table: Folding card table; sometimes baize-topped; name derives from game of 'Loo'.

Lopers: Slides to support drop-fronts of bureaux.

Louis XIV, Style of: The period between 1660 and 1715, known as the Grand Wcle and characterized by State intervention in the production of works of art. Decoration was sumptuous and massive; much use was made of modelled stucco, gilt metal ornaments and marble for wall-linings. Metal marquetry was developed by Boulle (q.v.).

Louis XV, Style of (1723-74): After a short period of transition (see Regence) the style shows a greater suppleness in the general design of decoration and furniture, a reaction against the preceding reign. The rococo (q.v.) was established with its accent on asymmetry. Seat furniture became lighter and more comfortable, and small bureaux and tables were designed.

Louis XVI, Style of (1744-93): During this period the straight line was recalled to structure in furniture and decoration. Under the influence of the classical revival vertical and horizontal lines predominate and detail moves in the direction of refinement and delicacy until about 1790.

Love-seat: A small settee for two and no more.

Loving Cup: Twin-handled drinking vessel.

Lowboy: American term for a small dressing table with drawers; often made en suite with the highboy (q.v.).

Lowestoft: This porcelain factory founded in 1757 and continued in production till about 1800. The Bow-like paste contains bone-ash. Under-glaze blue was the favoured decoration and the Chinese influence is obvious. Small pieces, souvenirs for visitors ('A Trifle from Lowestoft'), were made in considerable quantity. There is no Lowestoft mark as such, but the marks of several factories were used, especially Worcester. 'Oriental Lowestoft' is, of course, a complete misnomer as applied to porcelain made in China for the European market and has nothing to do with this factory.

Ludwigsburg: A hard-paste porcelain factory founded about 1758 by the Duke of Wurttemberg. J. J. Ringler, who had been at Vienna and other factories, was Director from 1759 till about 1800. The factory closed in 1824. Some of the figures made here are greatly esteemed and fetch very high prices. The early mark, which covers the best period, comprises two c's linked back to back, sometimes surmounted by a crown.

Lunette: Half-moon.

Lung-Ch'uan Ware: Celadon ware from the ceramics centre of Lung-Ch'uan, Chekiang Province, China, where stoneware and porcelain were produced from as early as the ninth century. The term covers various types of ware, the finest being a thinly-potted stoneware with a pale green glaze made during the Sung dynasty. More common is a heavier stoneware with a glaze in various shades of green that often approximate jade.

Lustre Glass: Originally a chandelier, a lustre is now usually a vase with flaring rim from which hang prismatic glass pendants; candle lustres are candle stands with hanging glass pendants. Ceramics. Pottery and sometimes porcelain covered with a thin coating of metal. The process is very old. HispanoMoresque ware (q.v.) is lustre, for example. The metal most commonly used in England was copper, with platinum ('silver') next and then gold. There are several methods of application but the two main classifications are Painted Lustres in which the pottery is completely covered with the metal, and Resist Lustres in which over-glaze painting is combined with the metallic decoration.

Lyre-back: Chair back in which the back is carved in the shape of a lyre (late eighteenth century).