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Antique Collectors' Dictionary (S1)

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Shiraz Rugs: Persian, of medium weave, both the Ghiordiz and Senna knot used; typical designs are the hexagonal medallion and cone device; red is the basic colour.

Shirvan Rugs: Caucasian, Ghiordiz knot, loose texture and coarse weave. The ivory ground is favoured with geometrical designs-medallions, diamonds, stars-in red, blue, green and brown. Three to five stripe border.

Shu Fu: Porcelain Ware made at Ching-t8-chen during the Yuan and early Ming dynasties, mostly dishes and bowls with incised, moulded or slip decoration under a pale blue-green or blue-white glaze; some pieces bear the incised inscription shu fu, or fu, or lu. Also known as Privy Council ware.

Shoe-piece: Until about 1700 the splat of a chair back was not connected with the seat. But for most of the eighteenth century the splat did come down to the seat and the shaped projection into which the splat bedded was termed a 'shoe-piece'.

Shouldered Stem: See Silesian Stem.

Shovel- or Shuffle-board Table: Long (very long), narrow table made for the game of `shovillaborde' in the fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth centuries.

Sideboard: The sideboard proper, as distinct from the diningroom side-table, dates from the early years of George III's reign. At first detached pedestals, supporting urns, flanked the side-table; a little later the pedestals became connected with the board and drawers were fitted to the frieze. During the Regency period the pedestal type returned to fashion, but the proportions were ill-considered.

Silesian Glass: Glass made in Silesia; rivalled the products of Bohemia, particularly in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, and is noted for the engraved glass made during the eighteenth century.

Silesian Stem: A style of drinking glass stem, with a shoulder, which may be spiral-moulded or vertically ribbed or reeded; early examples are frequently four-sided. Often called the shouldered or moulded pedestal stem. Popular throughout the first half of the eighteenth century.

Sivas Rugs: Rare type of Asia Minor rug from the city of Sivas; noted for white field with red medallion and blue, white, green and yellow floral corners; not very bright; fine cotton for both warp and weft is unusual feature.

Skewer: Silver examples are esteemed mainly because they make good letter-openers.

Skillet: Forerunner of the modern saucepan and successor of the cauldron, a small metal pot with long handle and (usually) legs. Except for some rare, early, bronze skillets the most esteemed are silver examples of the seventeenth century, especially if they are complete with cover.

Skirt: The apron, or strip of wood beneath the front of the seat of a chair.

Sleigh Bed: Bed of the Empire period, without posts but with head and foot boards rolling over.

Slider: See Coaster.

Slip: Clay reduced to liquid and used variously for the decoration of pottery. It may be white or coloured. The most common use is to form a first coating.

Slipware: Pottery decorated with slip (q.v.).

Snake Foot: Foot splaying out like a snake's head.

Snake Wood: Red Brazilian wood with black markings like snakeskin; used for marquetry.

Snaphaunce: A type of gunlock invented in the Netherlands during the sixteenth century. Some experts hold the snaphaunce to be the earliest form of flintlock; others contend that it is a distinct type from which the flintlock developed. But basically the snaphaunce comprises a piece of flint held in the jaws of a cock for striking against a piece of steel to cause sparks. When the steel is knocked back by the cock the separate sliding cover of the pan is opened and the sparks can get to the priming.

Snuff Bottle: Chinese bottle to contain snuff or medicine with stopper-spoon; those made during the Chien Lung period are very fine.

Snuff Box: Dates from the seventeenth century and is to be found in gold, silver, brass, pewter, steel, tortoiseshell, porcelain, wood, papier mache, ivory, pinchbeck, horn. . . Enamel examples from Battersea (particularly) and Bilston are esteemed but have been faked a lot. The small pocket snuff box would hold from quarter to half an ounce; larger boxes, often with detachable lids, were meant for the table; the latter, if long enough to take cigarettes, are much sought and correspondingly expensive. Snuff boxes with incorporated rasps went out towards the end of the eighteenth century with the advent of prepared snuff.

Snuff Spoon: Small, usually of silver; for the use of ladies who did not want to get the snuff under their nails.

Snuffers: Implement for shortening the wick of a candle (which was not fully consumed by the flame until the nineteenth century). Snuffers are mentioned in the fifteenth century. From the post-Restoration period onward. they consist of two hinged blades, one fitted with a box, the other with a plate or blade which is pressed into the box when the candle is snuffed (not unlike a pair of scissors).

Snuffer Stand: Upright holder for snuffers (see above).

Snuffer Tray: Vertical holder for snuffers; superseded the stand (see above) in the eighteenth century.

Soaprock or Soapstone: Steatite which in its natural state contains china clay and is therefore helpful in the manufacture of porcelain. Quarried in Cornwall, it was first used at Bristol (q.v.) about 1748, then at Worcester and other factories.

Sofa: The term appears in the late years of the seventeenth century, and was used to describe `a couch for reclining' in 1692; it was applied to a long upholstered piece of furniture. In the Regency and Empire period a version of the classical couch was designed and called a `Grecian sofa'.

Sofa Table: Rectangular, usually with hinged end-leaves, often with two shallow front drawers: an extremely elegant table that dates from the late Georgian period and found high favour with the Regency.

Soffit: The underside of a cornice or lintel. An architectural term carried over into furniture.

Soft-paste Porcelain: See Porcelain.

Solon, Mare: French ceramic artist who worked at Sevres before coming to England in 1871 to work for Mintons, bringing the pate-sur pate (q.v.) technique with him.

Soumak Rugs: Caucasian, no pile (a tapestry stitch being used), most designs are geometrical, particularly large diamonds with accompanying flattened octagons; red, blue and brown are the usual colours, and the border may have two to five stripes.

Spandrel: The space between the outer curve of an arch and the rectangle formed by enclosing moulding.

Spatter Glass: Vivid, mottled with bright colours-red, yellow, green, brown. Derives from Nailsea. The English variety is lined with white opaque glass; the American is not. `Spangled' glass is similar but more so.

Spider Table: A variety of gate-leg table with extremely slender turned legs; mid-eighteenth century.

Spindle: A fire rod or baluster.

Spinet: A stringed musical instrument in which, like the virginal and the harpsichord, an upright piece of wood (the jack) rests on the end of the key lever. On top of the jack is inset a pivoted slip of wood bearing a point (quill or leather). When the end of the key lever rises this point `plucks' the strings. The spinet was known on the Continent long before its introduction into England about the middle of the seventeenth century, when it replaced the virginal and remained in favour for about 100 years until it was replaced in its turn by the small piano. Strictly the spinet should be of `trapezond, pentagonal or wing-shape' as opposed to the virginal which is of rectangular form.

Spinning Wheel: A machine with a revolving wheel operated by a treadle, for converting wool, flax or cotton into thread. Generally of wood, the spinning wheel dates back to the fourteenth century (perhaps earlier) and was still in use at the end of the eighteenth century. Spiral Turning Turned work in the form of a twist.

Splad or Splat: Central section of a chair back from top rail to seat.

Spode: This ceramics factory founded in 1770 by Josiah Spode I (who had been apprenticed to Thomas Whieldon). On his death in 1797 the business was carried on by his son Josiah Spode II, and later by his grandson Josiah Spode III, who took William Copeland as a partner. From 1833 the firm was known as Copeland & Garrett, and from 1847 Copeland late Spode, and to this day it remains in the Copeland family.

Spode is usually credited with evolving the bone-china body that is still the staple manufacture today. From 1800 extremely large quantities of this porcelain were produced in many styles-the Chinese, Meissen, early Worcester and Derby, Chelsea. Rich ground colours were favoured. Gilding was all too often overdone, especially in the middle of the nineteenth century. Excellent Parian and lustre wares were made. Probably the most prolific English factory, Spode never suffered the reversals which beset so many of their competitors. Their `stone china' should be mentioned.

Marks usually include the name `Spode' in some form or other, most often transfer-printed.

Spool Turning: Turned work in form of a succession of spools.

Spoon: The spoon consists of three parts, the bowl, the stem, and the end or knop (though a form like the `Puritan' has no knop or finial). Some types that interest collectors: (1) the Maidenhead spoon, which appears at the close of the fourteenth century and has as finial a female bust; (2) the acorn-knop, mentioned as early as 1346, and made until the early seventeenth century; (3) the diamond point, which appeared in the mid-fourteenth century and was still being made in the early seventeenth century; (4) slipped-top (i.e. without a knop), mentioned in 1498 and still being made in the second half of the seventeenth century; (5) the seal top, introduced about 1525 and remaining in favour till the late seventeenth century; (6) the Puritan spoon, which has a flat stem and no knop, introduced in the 1630's and in favour for the remainder of the century; (7) the trifid spoon (or lobed end), introduced early in the reign of Charles II and remaining in favour until Anne's accession; (8) apostle spoons, in sets surmounted by a figure of an Apostle as knop. The earliest known example bears the mark for 1478. Some sets of twelve are surmounted by figures of the twelve Apostles; others in sets of thirteen (very rare) include the figure of the `Master' (Christ).

Generally speaking the bowl of the spoon is pear-shaped, narrowest near the stem, until the mid-seventeenth century, when it becomes more oval and then widest near the handle. Marks were placed inside the bowl till about 1660, after which they begin to appear on the handle but near the bowl, and from about 1780 on the handle but near the end.

Spoon-back: Chair back shaped to fit occupant. An American term (?).

Sprimont, Nicholas: One of the founders of the Chelsea porcelain factory, of which he was probably manager from the beginning and owner from about 1757 to 1768. Sprimont was born at Liege and trained as a silversmith, which craft he probably followed when he came to London. Springs Not used in upholstered furniture before the nineteenth century.

Stalker and Parker: Their Treatise on Japanning and Varnishing was published in 1688, and contained hints not only on japanning and varnishing but also on `Guilding, Burnishing and Lackering ... Painting Mezzo-Tinto-Prints ... Counterfeiting Tortoiseshell, and Marble' and many other secret arts.

Standard: Obsolete term for a type of coffer or chest covered with leather.

Standing Cup: Richly ornamented ceremonial cup with cover. Standing Salt A large salt, often of precious metal, which occupied an important position on the dining-table in the Middle Ages and indeed till the beginning of the seventeenth century.

Standish: A term that dates from the fifteenth century to describe a stand made to hold inkwell, quills, and other writing materials and accessories. (The term `inkstand' came into use in the late eighteenth century.)

Steatite: See Soaprock.

Stecco (Italian stickwork): The term used in Italy for the form of ceramic decoration known in England by the Italian term sgrafftto (q.v.).

Sterling: Term derived from the German tribe, the Easterlings, makers of fine silver in medieval times. Applied as the normal standard of English silver, 925 parts fine, at the beginning of the fourteenth century and has so remained, except for the period 1697-1720 (see Britannia Standard), to the present time.

Stile: The vertical member of a framework, occupying an end position in that framework, into which the rails are tenoned. Stirrup Cap A drinking cup in the form of a fox's head, though occasionally the form is that of some other animal's head. The stirrup cup is footless and lacks handles. Silver examples were popular sporting trophies. They were also made of pottery and porcelain.

Stitched-up: Term applied to upholstery completely covering seat to lower edge of frame.

Stoneware: Pottery fused into a hard, vitrified mass, a stage between earthenware and porcelain. Stoneware is always opaque and therefore cannot qualify, in European eyes, as porcelain; but in China, where the criterion is that the ware `rings' when struck, some stoneware is deemed to be porcelain.

Stool: A term used in the Middle Ages for a seat for one person, especially one without arms or back (its usual significance from the Tudor period). In the Academy of Armory (1649) joint stools, so called because made by the joiner, are distinguished from turned stools made by the turner or wheelwright. Until the second half of the seventeenth century stools were the normal seats for the dining table.

Storr, Paul: London silversmith active 1795-1821; a superb craftsman and the probable begetter of the Regency style as regards silver.

Strapwork: Ornament consisting of flat bands interlaced with various patterns such as foliage and flowers, mostly used on furniture (carved), but borrowed by the silversmith. Dates from the middle of the sixteenth century.

Strasbourg: Important faience centre in Alsace, which became prominent from c. 1720 thanks to a factory established by a partnership between Charles Frangois Hannong and Johann Heinrich Wackenfeld. Wackenfeld, who may have been at Meissen, did not stay long but the enterprise expanded under the direction of Hannong, and later under his son, Joseph. until a decline set in about 1760 and the factory closed in 1780, Important pieces in the rococo style were produced here; and some porcelain was made, the early wares being difficult to distinguish from those of Frankenthal (q.v.).

Straw-work: A form of furniture decoration employing strips of straw, bleached and dyed, applied in geometrical or other patterns. This fashion reached England from the Continent towards the end of the seventeenth century and remained popular for well over 100 years (French prisoners-of-war c. 1795-1815 produced a great deal of straw-work).

Stretcher: Horizontal member between legs of a chair, table or stool.

Stringing: A line or narrow band (usually of wood) inlaid as a decorative border on furniture. This practice dates from the second half of the sixteenth century, when light-coloured woods were used to contrast against a darker ground; brass stringing is frequent feature of Regency furniture.

Sung Dynasty (A.D. 960-1279): See Chinese.

Surfeit Water Glass: Delicate flute-shaped drinking glass, the brim less than one inch in diameter; mid-Georgian. (Surfeit water was a fearfully strong brandy.)

Sutherland Table: Dwarf table with flap leaves and pull-out leg supports. Name derives from Harriet, Duchess of S. Victorian successor to sofa table.

Swag: A festoon of cloth, or of flowers and fruit, favoured as a decorative motif.

Swan-neck Pediment: Broken pediment in which the two sides are curved instead of straight.

Swansea: (1) PORCELAIN. In 1814 William Billingsley quit his Nantgarw (q.v.) factory and joined forces with Lewis Dillwyn at the latter's Cambrian Pottery works at Swansea, the object being to make an economic success of Billingsley's porcelain formula. The enterprise was but a limited success and by 1817 Billingsley was on the move again. Porcelain continued to be made at Swansea till 1823.

The first wares made were very similar to Nantgarw; then came a more stable body, the `duck egg' paste, which contained a small amount of soaprock; and later again a harder, whiter porcelain was made, which contained considerably more soaprock. After Billingsley's departure the porcelain made was inferior. The best Swansea is as good-and as rare-as Nantgarw. Table ware, plates particularly, was the main product. Painted decoration by Thomas Baxter, Thomas Pardoe and William Young is highly esteemed. `SWANSEA' usually impressed but sometimes painted in red or other colours, is the standard mark.

Swansea: (2) POTTERY. The Cambrian Pottery works was founded during the 1760's and remained in the Coles family until 1802 when it passed to Lewis Dillwyn. It traded as Bevington & Co. for a time, then reverted to Dillwyn about 1823, finally passing into other hands and closing down in 1870.

Swell Front: Bow front.

Sycamore: Yellowish wood, fine-grained, medium-hard, takes an excellent polish; was used for marquetry on walnut furniture, and as veneer and in the solid during the last third of the eighteenth century when the vogue was for satinwood furniture.