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Antique Collectors' Dictionary (S)

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Sadler & Green: Partners in a Liverpool business that specialized in the decoration of pottery (and perhaps manufactured some wares). John Sadler may have been the first to use transferprinting as a means of decorating ceramics; he is said to have invented the process in 1750. The firm was active throughout the second half of the eighteenth century. Many Staffordshire potters (including Wedgwood) sent large quantities of earthenware to Sadler & Green to be decorated.

Sad Ware: Flat articles of pewter.

Saint Cloud: Soft-paste porcelain made at this French factory (founded for the production of faience c. 1670) from about 1700. Saint Cloud is thus the first French porcelain manufactory. The porcelain was of good quality, slightly yellowish, the decoration at first following that encountered on Rouen faience, and then, from about 1730, the Kakiemon (q.v.) style. The factory closed about 1770. The most common mark is a sun.

Saint Petersburg: The Russian Imperial Porcelain Factory was at St Petersburg, Moscow. Porcelain is said to have been manufactured as early as 1744 but little is known of wares produced before 1762. After this date the French style predominates.

Salopian: Mark on, and name sometimes given to, Caughley porcelain (q.v.).

Salt Cellar: The important position of the great salt cellar on the dining-table in the Middle Ages and during the Renaissance period accounts for the elaborate workmanship bestowed on it. Existing examples of the hour-glass form date from between 1490 and 1525. Then came a different form, either square or circular in plan, the cover raised on brackets, and often surmounted by a figure. The salts known as `bell salts' which, as the name suggests, expand towards the base, appeared towards the close of the sixteenth century. Small open salts, `trencher salts', date from the reign of Charles II, when the ceremonial use of the great salt had died out. These small salts, usually bowl-shaped, though box-shaped examples with hinged lids are to be found, remained solid till mid-Georgian times, when pierced work, and glass liners, came into favour.

Salt-glaze: Glaze for stoneware (q.v.). Salt is thrown into the kiln when the maximum temperature is reached and the great heat reduces the salt to its component parts, one of which, sodium, combines with silica in the ware to form a thin skin or glaze.

Saltire: Stretchers-of tables and chairs which cross in X-form, usually with a finial at the crossing.

Samaakand Rugs: Rugs that belong in the Chinese group, though the Persian influence is to be detected. Colouring is usually extremely rich. Over-all floral patterns are characteristic; squarish medallions are another favoured motif. Loosely woven with (usually) the Senna knot.

Samson Porcelain: Porcelain made from 1845 onwards by Edm6 Samson et Cie of Paris who specialized in reproducing old porcelain of many kinds, Chinese armorial porcelain, Meissen figures and the products of Sevres, Chelsea and Derby. Samson often reproduced the marks too, but, sportingly, frequently included a disguised `s'.

Sand-box: Pot, usually of silver or pewter, with perforated lid and containing fine sand for drying ink.

San Tsai (Chinese): 'Three-colour' decoration on Ming stoneware and porcelain; the alkali silicate glazes, coloured with metallic oxides and applied direct to the previously fired body, are kept apart by ridges or engraved lines. Colours used include blue, yellow, turquoise, green.

Sarabend Rugs: Persian rugs of fine weave using the Senna knot, the ground-of white, blue or red-being covered with small conical devices set close together; five to seven stripe border.

Sar(o)uk Carpets: Persian rugs of fine weave with Senna knot, the medallion a favoured motif, dark blue and red the primary colours; three to seven stripe border; similar to Kashans (q.v.).

Satinwood: A number of woods are so called but only two varieties have been much used by English cabinet-makers. One is from the West Indies and the other from the East Indies. Both are yellowish in tone and vary from a plain grain to a mottled figure. The West Indian variety was used as a veneer from the 1760's onwards, and also, but to a lesser extent, in the solid. The East Indian variety was introduced in the late eighteenth century and was similarly employed, and also used for cross-banding. The `age of satinwood' 1770-1830.

Satsuma Ware: Japanese pottery made at Satsuma, on the island of Kyushu, since the early seventeenth century. Many kinds of wares were made, but the cream-coloured pottery decorated with enamel colours and gilding dates from the late eighteenth century.

Savonnerie Carpets: These French carpets (so-called because they were first produced in an old soap factory) were made from the second quarter of the seventeenth century. The Turkish knot was used and they have a close-cut pile. Eighteenth century examples are sometimes to be found but at a very high price.

Scagliola (Italian): A composition composed of ground plaster of paris mixed with a solution of glue and coloured to imitate marble. The technique is very old, so that the work of the Italian master mason Guido del Conte (1584-1649), whose scagliola was greatly esteemed, was in the nature of a revival. Slabs of scagliola were much imported into England in the eighteenth century for use as tops of tables and commodes.

Sceaux: Faience and porcelain factory founded about 1749 by an architect named de Bey at Sceaux, near Paris. Extremely little porcelain was made until 1775 when the Duc de Penthievre, High Admiral of France, became patron. Painted decoration is of a high order. The factory closed in 1794. The mark of an anchor is to be encountered. Sconce Term applied to a wall-light consisting of a candle branch or branches (or tray) and back-plate. The back-plate, which could be of metal or mirror-glass, served as a reflector. Decoration is frequently rich on mid-eighteenth-century examples.

Screen: There are three basic types: (1) the folding screen which is made up of leaves hinged (or otherwise connected) and covered with paper, lacquered wood or textiles; (2) a frame standing on a base and feet-i.e. cheval screen; (3) a frame supported on a standard or pole-i.e. pole-screen. The three types were made in considerable quantities during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Screw-barrel Pistol: The barrel screws on to a short breech chamber and is unscrewed for loading. Invented about 1635.

Screws: Metal screws for furniture were first used in England towards the end of the seventeenth century. They had a slotted head and the thread was hand-filed. Screws were first produced on a lathe about 1760. The modern machine-made pointed screw came into use in the middle of the nineteenth century.

Scriptor: See Scrutoire.

Scrutoire: Form of French escritoire or writing cabinet. The term was used in the late seventeenth century for the forerunner of the bureau writing cabinet that came in at the end of the century. A `scriptor' is the same thing.

`Secret' Decoration: See An Hua.

Seddon, George (1727-1801): Cabinet-maker and successful business man whose mass production methods enabled him to cater for the less than rich; transformed his Aldersgate Street (London) workshops into a forerunner of the modern furnishing store with, by 1786, some 400 employees. His firm flourished well into the nineteenth century.

Senna Rugs: Persian rugs of fine texture and short wool pile; over-all decoration of repeated leaf, floral or cone motifs are typical; blue, red or ivory are basic colours, supported by greens, yellows; three-stripe border; Senna knot.

Serpentine Front: An undulating front in which the centre is usually convex and the two ends concave. In the case of furniture dating from the middle years of the eighteenth century this shaping was used to display advantageously the figure of veneers. A serpentine-shaping was also freely used for the friezes of tables and rails of seat furniture. Seto A Japanese ceramics-making centre for many centuries. In the nineteenth century it was at Seto that most of those enormous vases, three feet or more high, were made for export to Europe.

Settee: The term seems to have been first used in England in the early years of the eighteenth century, the word probably being a diminutive of `settle' (see next entry). Many kinds of seat have been described as settees so that the only safe definition is `a seat with back and arms for two or more persons'. It is difficult to distinguish between a settee and a sofa, but generally a sofa is larger, long enough to allow a person to recline at full length. A particular form of settee that dates from the end of the seventeenth century is the double or treble-chair type. The `love seat' is a settee-for two only. The `hall settee' lacks any upholstery or padding and is usually severe; such pieces were specifically designed for the hall during the eighteenth century.

Settle: A long seat (accommodating two or more persons), having a back and arms and an enclosed base; the seat is usually a lid. The settle evolved from the chest, which is what early examples are-plus back and arms. The settle dates back to the fifteenth century, perhaps earlier.

Sevres: This French porcelain factory founded at Vincennes in 1738 by M. Orry de Fulvi with the help of two workmen from Chantilly. The venture was far from successful and in 1745 a company was formed under the direction of Charles Adam who obtained a thirty-year monopoly from Louis XV and the services of outstanding administrators and workmen. In 1756 the factory was removed to Sevres where it continues working to this day. Soft-paste porcelain was made until 1769, when a hard paste was introduced, the two being made concurrently, the hard paste slowly ousting the soft. The hardpaste porcelain was termed Porcelaine Royale to distinguish it from the soft-paste Porcelaine de France, and the former was marked with a crown surmounting the crossed `L's'.

Thanks to royal patronage (and its concomitant, severe restrictions imposed on rival ventures) the soft-paste porcelain made at S6vres from 1756 to 1786 is finer than anything else of that period. The famous biscuit porcelain, so suitable for figures and statuettes, was introduced as early as 1751. Painted decoration on coloured ground was superb. Such ground colours as the dark mottled blue (gros bleu), turquoise (bleu celeste), strong rich blue (bleu de Roi), and pink (rose Pompadour) were of a richness never achieved before.

Sevres porcelain of the eighteenth century was made for the wealthy, and the collector who collects it today will have to pay dearly for his predilection. Inevitably it has been faked a lot. The mark is the famous crossed double `L'.

Sgraffiato or Sgraffito (Italian =scratched): Pottery decoration sometimes used when the slip and the body are of contrasting colours, the design being incised through the slip to reveal the body colour.

Shagreen: A term used for (1) the skin of sharks-and other fish-prepared as a covering for boxes, knife-cases, etc., and (2) unstained leather in which a granular surface was obtained by pressing seeds into the material while soft and flexible, this leather when dyed and dried also being used for box and case coverings.

Shaker Furniture: The term is used loosely to indicate early American cottage furniture, some of which, no doubt, was made by `Shakers' (members of a religious sect).

Sham-dram: Cheap drinking glass with deceptive bowl that holds less than a publican's measure of Scotch today; humble relation of the toast-master glass (q.v.), made for the use of the tavern-keeper.

Shearer, Thomas: Cabinet-maker and designer, a contemporary of Hepplewhite and Sheraton, to whom is often given the credit for first producing what we today think of as the modern sideboard. His designs first appeared in 1788 in The Cabinet Maker's London Book of Prices, which was really a trade catalogue, and were re-issued in the same year as Designs for Household Furniture.

Sheffield Plate: Wares made of copper plated with silver, the sheets of copper being sandwiched by rolling between films of silver. The process was invented by Thomas Bolsover, a Sheffield cutler, in about 1742, but he seems to have made little but buttons with his new ware. The first domestic items, such as coffee pots and candlesticks, were made in the middle 1750's. Matthew Boulton, the Birmingham manufacturer who made the finest English ormolu, was the first to exploit the new process in a big way; he set up a factory for this purpose in 1762. The mid-nineteenth-century invention of electro-plating superseded the making of Sheffield plate.

Sheraton, Thomas (1751-1806): Author and furniture designer who, though trained as a cabinet-maker, was never in business as a manufacturer of furniture. He was born in Stockton-onTees, County Durham, and must have come to London before 1791 as in that year, the first part of The Cabinet-Maker's and Upholsterer's Drawing Book was published. The work was in four parts and came out 1791-4. In 1803 he published the Cabinet Dictionary, an illustrated work which not only defined and explained terms used in the trade but also contained directions for varnishing, polishing and gilding. His last work, The Cabinet-Maker, Upholsterer, and General Artist's Encyclopaedia, a rambling compilation in one volume, came out in 1805, the year before he died.

Sheraton's first work, the Drawing Book, is by far his most important, and it is important for its drawings. Sheraton was no great shakes as an author but he was an excellent draughtsman and the full notes to the plates reveal that he did have technical experience. Some were among the subscribers to the work which was a brilliant summary of `the present taste in furniture'.

Shipping Goods: Trade term applied to articles, usually late Victorian or Edwardian, bought in bulk by wholesale buyers from overseas. A superior class of shipping trade is that between British dealers and buyers from the antiques departments of large overseas stores who seek `furnishing antiques' (q.v.).