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OAK: The material of which the furniture of England of the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries was constructed was almost without exception good oak. It was of two varieties: live-oak of a rich brown, color and fine grain, and swamp-oak with a long grain, much like the American ash. There was also the bog-oak found in peat bogs and used as an inlay. The oak timbers were riven or split with the wedge and beetle. The riving iron follows the grain of the wood and riven oak endures better than if sawed. Adzes and planes were used for dressing the surfaces. In the 16th century two' handled saws were first used for cutting purposes. Oak can be carved and joined but it is difficult to turn it, and it was never used as a veneer. The stretchering of legs of furniture was general during the "Age of Oak" 1450 to 1685. No wood persists like oak throughout the history of English furniture. The American oak is more easily worked than English oak, but it never attained to the prominence here for furniture that it did in England.
OGEE: A form obtained from the use of the cyma curve, a double curve as of a molding. Convex above and concave below is called the cyma reversa, the reverse of which is the cvma recta.
OGEE FOOT: A foot of the bracket type using the cyma curve.
OIL FINISH: This consists of applying thin coats of boiled linseed oil, to pieces that have been cleaned and carefully smoothed, and thoroughly rubbing in each coat with a soft woolen cloth. After each treatment, the piece should be left in a warm room for twenty-four hours. The success of this oil finish depends upon much rubbing and little oil, each time, until the desired finish is attained. This is satisfactory only on furniture made of hard, close-grained wood such as maple, beech, cherry and mahogany. Smoothing of the surface, in preparation for the oil, may be done by fine sandpaper and steel wool. In the preservation of old mahogany furniture it will be helpful if it is rubbed regularly with a soft, oily woolen cloth.
OLIVE WOOD: A hard close-grained wood of greenish-yellow color with dark cloudy markings. In use for veneering in the 18th century.
ORGANS: Although organs had been in use in the churches of Europe by the opening of the 16th century, their first use in this country was not until after the beginning of the 18th century. An imported organ was presented to King's Chapel in Boston in 1713. The first church organ built in New England was one for Christ Church in Boston in 1752.
ORNAMENT: Carved or applied decoration in great variety of design. See APPLIED ORNAMENT.
ORRERY: A mechanical device for representing the movements of the heavenly bodies. It derived its name from the Earl of Orrery in England in the early 18th century. David Rittenhouse of Philadelphia made one of these for the University of Pennsylvania and another for Princeton College in 1768, and Joseph Pope made one for Harvard College in 1786.
OTTOMAN: A stuffed seat without a back, first used in Turkey.
OVOLO MOLDING: A molding in which the chief member is of oval or convex contour. Sometimes decorated by egg-and-dart ornament.
OYSTERED VENEER: Made from transverse slices of small limbs, showing cross section of grain. It was used on Carolean and William and Mary furniture and was of Dutch or Flemish origin.