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DADO: An ornamental border around the lower part of a room, usually with a plain or paneled surface. The dado came into use when paneling to the top of the room was discontinued.
DAY BED: See BEDS, Day.
DEAL: A timber used in England in the 16th and 17th centuries for furniture-making. It is the wood of the North European pine with hard and soft fibers alternating. Red deal is the wood of the Scotch pine.
DECORATED QUEEN ANNE STYLE: See GEORGIAN PERIOD. A form of molding ornamentation made by small oblong blocks, set at equal distances from each other, placed usually on cornices.
DESK: A piece of furniture, an early distinctive feature being a sloping front lid. It originally meant in England a box with a slant top, usually plain, sometimes carved, set on a table, for holding writing materials. In this form it was in use in the Elizabethan and Jacobean periods. Some of them had the owner's name and a date carved upon them, perhaps with a lock for safe keeping of money, wills, etc. Later, the box and table were combined in one piece and often referred to in the 17th century as a scrutoir. The desk in its present form came into use in the William and Mary period. The space below the desk box had been filled with drawers, and behind the lid, small drawers and pigeon-holes were arranged, many of the desks having secret drawers for the safety of valuable papers. Pine, maple, cherry, walnut, and later mahogany were used. The desk in its present form is known in England and in France as bureau. See SECRETARY.
Knee-Hole Desks. A desk with a flat top and a recessed space below, between drawers at each side. While seated at it one may have the whole resources of it at hand. With the fall-front desk when the lid is down it is difficult to get at the drawers beneath it. It belongs to the 18th century almost exclusively and the best examples of these desks have the block front. The knee-hole desk is similar to the smaller dressing table with which it is often confused.
DIAPER WORK: A method of surface decoration, consisting of a design, usually geometrical, made up of regular repeats, and generally used in friezes.
DIPPED SEAT: See DROPPED SEAT.
DISHED CORNER: A table corner, usually a card table, slightly hollowed out, to hold a candlestick, or for counters.
DISH-TOP: A table top with plain raised rim.
DIVAN: A low cushioned seat, similar to the seats provided for the council chamber in Eastern palaces.
DOLE CUPBOARDS: See CUPBOARDS, Dole.
DOLPHIN: A marine animal, whose head and body, or head alone, is seen on Renaissance furniture for conventionalized decorative purposes. It was also in use frequently in 18th-century work.
DOVETAIL: A manner of joining wood by interlocking wedge-shaped tenons and spaces. In Colonial times, the spacing was greater than on modern work.
DOWEL: A wooden pin fastening two pieces of cabinet work. In old pieces these were made by hand, and seldom round, often octagonal or square.
DOWRY (DOWER) CHESTS: See CHESTS, Dowry.
DRAGON'S CLAW: A name sometimes given to the claw and-ball foot.
DRAW-BORE PIN: A method employed in Colonial times to tighten a mortise and tenon joint. The tenon hole was about one-sixteenth inch nearer the shoulder than in the mortised piece.
DRAW-RUNNER: See RUNNER.
DRESSER: (French, Dressoir) Not unlike the cupboard in its development in the Gothic period, the dresser retained its simplicity of plain open shelves, on which were placed the flagons and cups. Sometimes the lower shelves were enclosed with a door or doors, the open shelves being used for displaying pewter or pottery. Toward the end of the 17th century in the more opulent families, its place was taken by the handsomer press or court cupboard. Dressers made in this country in the 17 th century were usually of pine with a cornice of moldings at the top. In England in the country districts, a dresser was made of oak in the 17th century, similar in form to the sideboard of the late 18th century. It had drawers immediately below the top, and sometimes shelves were arranged at the back with a canopy top. With variations this form of dresser persisted until well into the 18th century.
DRESSING-GLASS OR MIRROR: See MIRRORS.
DROP ORNAMENT: A turned ornament used on Jacobean work, also a decoration resembling a husk to be seen on late 18th-century furniture.
DROPPED SEAT: A seat concaved so that the middle and front are lower than the sides.
DUMB WAITERS: An English invention of the 18th century, consisting of tiers of trays affixed to a central stem. There were generally three trays revolving on the stand, mounted on tripod feet for floor use.
DUTCH FURNITURE: The furniture designs of both Dutch and Flemish furniture were influenced strongly by the French styles of the Huguenot refugees, who fled from France following the Revocation of the Edict of Nantes. Marquetry was much used for ornamentation and the variety of furniture was greatly increased. Ball feet as a support for cabinets, bureaus (desks), etc. is typically Dutch. The "bombe" or swell front, also Dutch, was used extensively on such pieces as chests of drawers, bureaus, wardrobes and cabinets. Another feature is that of hanging drawers on runners attached to the carcase, the runners sliding in grooves cut in the drawer sides. The interiors of cabinets were usually painted, and the carving on Dutch chairs is very elaborate. Examples of genuine Dutch furniture of the late 17th and early 18th centuries are rare. During the William and Mary period the influence of Dutch styles on English furniture was very pronounced.
DUTCH FOOT: A foot which spreads from the leg in a circular termination. Frequently used as a terminal of cabriole legs. See CLUB FOOT.