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Antique Collectors' Dictionary (P)

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Pagoda: The canopied Eastern temple was a favoured decorative motif in the middle of the eighteenth century; cabinetmakers used it a lot.

Pair-case Watch: Watch in which the movement is contained in an inner case which in turn fits into an outer, protective case; made from the mid-seventeenth century.

Pai Ting (Chinese): The finest creamy-white Ting ware (q.v.).

Pai Tun Tzu (Chinese): China stone. See Porcelain.

Pai Tzu (Chinese): White porcelain.

Paktong (Chinese): An alloy of copper, nickel and zinc which, when polished, resembles silver. It stood up well to hard wear and was used for many domestic utensils including grates and fenders in the second half of the eighteenth century. The Chinese seem to have been the first to utilize the metal. Also known as Tutenag.

Palissy, Bernard (?1510-89): A famous name in European ceramics; is said to have spent sixteen years perfecting an enamel surface on pottery. He succeeded in 1557 when he began to make the remarkable pieces still to be seen in the Louvre, with plants, shells, animals and insects in relief, and covered with coloured glazes. A Huguenot, he died in the Bastille.

Pallet: In an escapement (q.v.), the leaves that actually bed in the teeth of the escape wheel.

Palm Cup: Cup without handles.

Palmer, Humphrey: Potter of Hanley, active from about 1760, who imitated Wedgwood's basalts, jasper and other wares with considerable success. Towards the end of the 1770's he got into financial difficulties and went into partnership with James Neale (q.v.).

Plan (Chinese): Ancient bronze vessel, a shallow bowl, sometimes with handles.

Panel: A surface framed within a larger surface. A panel may be sunk below the framework or raised above it. In construction, the term means a board held in place by a surrounding framework of grooved rails and stiles, the panel fitting into the grooves.

Pap Boat: Bowl with a lip for feeding infants; of silver usually; eighteenth-century examples are to be encountered.

Paperweight (Glass): Specimens of millefiori (q.v.) glass were shown at a Paris exhibition in 1844 and the following year paperweights were described as `a new item of trade, the round shaped millefiori paperweights of transparent glass in which are inserted quantities of small tubes of all colours and forms to look like a multitude of florets'. The manufacture of these paperweights in France centred at St Louis, Baccarat and Clichy. In England they were produced at the glass-making towns of Bristol, Stourbridge, Birmingham, London, etc. Examples produced after 1865 tend to be inferior in colouring and quality.

Papier Mache: French name (=chewed paper) for an English invention. In 1772 Henry Clay of Birmingham patented his process for making `paper ware' from linen rags. A cheaper method of making `papier mache japan furniture' from rag pulp was patented by Richard Brindley, also of Birmingham, in 1836. Not till the 1860's were both types of furniture known as `papier mache'. Clay's ware, handmade, is lighter, perfectly smooth, very tough; Brindley's pressed ware tends to be brittle, and because of this perfect examples are rare. Decoration: the gold is leaf or powder, not paint; pearl shell dates from the 1820's; oil painting from the 30's.

Parcel-gilt: Partially gilt.

Parian Ware: Unglazed, vitrified porcelain, smooth, like marble (name derives from antique marble found on Paros), made first by Copeland about 1842(?) and later by Minton, and at Belleek. Busts and figures are notable. Really, Parian is an improvement on Derby biscuit porcelain.

Paris: Porcelain so designated should have been made at or near Paris. Quite a number of factories were established in the environs of Paris from the 1770's onwards; most of them made hard-paste porcelain. A few of the better-known: La Courtille, from about 1770, with porcelain in the German manner the speciality; Clignancourt, from 1775, under royal patronage, made Sevres-like wares; Rue Popincourt, from 1782, one of the larger Paris factories, noted for porcelain clock-cases; Fontainebleau, from 1795. The main speciality of the Paris factories seems to have been forging the early products of the more famous French factories.

Parquetry: Mosaic of wood applied to a ground in simple geometrical forms. It is a form of decorative veneer and was often used with marquetry. Its use in England dates from the second half of the seventeenth century; it was little used in the first half of the eighteenth century but it came back into favour in the last quarter of the eighteenth century. The term also applies to a flooring of small blocks of wood arranged in geometrical patterns.

Partridge Wood: Red-brown Brazilian wood used in parquetry, inlay and veneer.

Pate-de-Verre (French): In the nineteenth century the French successfully revived an old glass-making technique which involved the use of powdered glass of several colours which was mixed and re-fired.

Pate Dare (French): Hard-paste porcelain.

Paten Small, circular, ecclesiastical plate, usually of silver.

Patera : A saucer or dish used for libations or sacrifices by the Greeks and Romans: hence a shallow disc or roundel used as ornament.

Pate-sar-Pate (French=clay on clay): Porcelain decoration by means of painting in a white or tinted slip; first used at Sevres about the middle of the nineteenth century and introduced into England by Marc Solon about 1870 when he left the French factory to come and work at Mintons.

Pate Tendre (French): Soft-paste porcelain.

Patina: (1) Furniture. The surface condition that comes about by natural means, rubbing, polishing, usage. (2) Metal. The oxidized surface condition of bronzes and other metalwork brought about by natural or artificial means.

Pear Wood: Reddish wood with fine grain; used for marquetry and inlaying.

Peche Mortel (French): A couch that is a glorified upholstered arm-chair and stool. A form of the Duchesse (q.v.).

Pedestal: The base of a column in architecture and carried over into furniture in the same sense.

Pedestal Table: The term is applied to two types of table: (1). a circular table on a central pillar terminating in three club or ball-and-claw-footed legs, and (2) a library table with two matching, square pedestals at each end.

Pediment: A triangular structure like a low gable as over a portico in Greek architecture. In furniture, the same structure surmounts the cornices of bookcases, mirrors, cabinets.

Peg Tankard: Silver tankard with a vertical row of pegs or studs inside, these being fitted at regular intervals and intended to measure the amount consumed by communal drinkers. Seventeenth century.

Pembroke Table: A small table with drop-leaf sides supported by brackets, and (usually) a shallow drawer. The name may derive from the Countess of Pembroke; it seems to have been first applied in the 1760's. This piece of furniture, whether as a breakfast table or a lady's work table, was very popular in the late eighteenth century. Both Hepplewhite and Sheraton designed examples.

Pendulum: The incorporation of a pendulum in a clock is attributed to a Dutchman, in 1657, though there is some evidence to suggest that Italian clock-makers had done so earlier. Early bob-pendulums are short and, as used with the verge escapement, swung through an arc of 35 to 40 degrees. With the invention of the anchor escapement about 1670 a much longer pendulum became practicable; known as the Royal pendulum, it was 39-1393 inches long and moved through an arc of 4 or S degrees to a one-second beat, thus permitting a second hand and leading to the long-case clock. Early pendulum rods, often of simple iron wire, were liable to expansion and contraction with changes of temperature. Two main improvements, invented about the same time (c. 1726), were the mercury pendulum and the grid-iron pendulum. The former, invented by George Graham, had as a bob a glass jar of mercury suspended from a brass pendulum rod; heat that lengthened the rod also expanded the mercury and thus the centre of oscillation remained constant (and vice versa in cold weather). The grid-iron pendulum of John Harrison is based on the fact that the expansion of brass to steel is in the ratio of 3 to 2; in his pendulum the upper extremities of alternate brass and steel rods,_ in the aforementioned ratio as regards length, will therefore if joined at their lower ends remain the same distance apart whatever the changes of temperature. Both the mercury and grid-iron pendulum are still in use today. Very rare is the `second-and-a-quarter' pendulum in which the duration of each arc of the swing is 1 1/4 seconds and the pendulum is 5 feet in length: introduced c. 1675, probably by William Clement, but abandoned by the end of the next decade.

Pergolesi, M. A.: Italian who came to Britain in late 1750's and worked for the Adam brothers. His series of Original Designs (1777-1800) were behind much of the painted furniture of the period.

Perrott, Humphrey: English glass-maker who revolutionized glass manufacture in 1734 by designing a furnace which permitted higher temperatures, greater blast, larger melting pots.

Petronel: A large pistol with a stock; sixteenth century.

Petuntse: China stone. See Porcelain.

Pewter: An alloy of tin with an admixture of another metalusually lead, but sometimes brass or copper. This alloy can be worked by casting, also by turning and hammering. The Romans made pewter of high quality and design. In medieval times the tableware of kings and the nobility was of pewter. In England the Pewterers' Guild was officially recognized in 1348; by the end of the fifteenth century pewter had almost superseded treen (wooden platters); in 1504 marking was made compulsory (the rule much flouted, of course), standards of `London quality' were set. There was much pewter produced in France, Germany and Switzerland from the fourteenth century onwards; the English product is plain compared to most Continental pewter. Though earthenware came into common use in the seventeenth century, pewter held its own till almost the end of the eighteenth century; but Britannia metal (q.v.) killed the art, which, by 1850, was almost extinct, though certain articles such as tankards and measures continued (and continue) to be made.

Pharmacy Jars: The blue and white jars bearing the names of drugs date from the middle of the seventeenth century; squat tin-enamelled jars are usually earlier.

Pianoforte: A keyboard instrument in which the strings are struck, not plucked. The piano was invented by Bartolomeo Cristofori of Florence in the early years of the eighteenth century. The first English piano was made about 1760: it was small and rectangular and, as regards shape, looked to the virginal and clavichord (qq.v.). This type of piano, four to five feet long, was called the `square' piano and was made in considerable numbers for the remainder of the eighteenth century. The `upright' piano came into favour about 1800, but meantime the `grand', based on the harpsichord shape, had evolved in the 1780's.

Pie Crust Table: Round-topped table on a tripod base, the dish-top (q.v.) having a scalloped edge. Made from the mideighteenth century onwards.

Pied de Biche: Hoof-foot.

Pien Yao (Chinese): Ceramics with flambJ glaze (q.v.).

Pierced Ware: Pottery in which the decoration is pierced right through the ware, a speciality at Leeds (q.v.) from the 1760's, but practised at many Staffordshire potteries too. The inspiration derives from such decoration on silver.

Pier Glass: A mirror made to hang in the wall space between windows. Usually in pairs, they were tall and narrow, the frames often gilded and carved. They date from the beginning of the eighteenth century.

Pier Table: A table meant to stand against the wall between windows. Many are D-shaped. The pier table is a form of sidetable which, like the pier glass (see last entry), dates from the beginning of the eighteenth century.