Antiques Auction Glossary
The world of antiques and collecting can be a mysterious and mystifying place. Premiums' jargon, strange terminology and weird names don't help. This online guide, kindly supplied by Reader's Digest (taken from their publication TREASURES in your HOME), lists everything you ever need to know... from the Finnish architect and furniture designer Alvar Aalto (1898-1976) to Zwischengoldglas – literally 'gold between glass' – a method of decorating 18th century beakers and goblets.
All material within the glossary Copyright © 10/2004 Reader's Digest Association Limited.
gabbeh - Term for heavy, coarsely woven domestic rugs from west Iran. Gabbehs are typically woven in thick wool and brightly coloured to a bold design.
gadrooning - Continuous convex curves or reeding on metalwork, but also imitated on furniture and ceramics. Gadroon borders are made up of interlocking, repeated comma-like bosses, the resulting effect being of a circle in motion. On European TIN-GLAZED EARTHENWARE painted gadroon borders, known as false gadrooning, simulate a three-dimensional effect.
Gainsborough chair - 20thC term for an open-sided armchair with upholstered seat, back and arm pads, and concave arm supports.
GallÃˆ, Emile - He founded a glass factory at Nancy, north-east France, in 1867 (closed 1931) and produced much art glass. Among the many techniques he developed were the surface decorations marqueterie sur verre and verreries parlantes. From the mid- 1880s GallÃˆ also designed and made furniture. He drew loosely on 18thC styles, but added carving or marquetry decoration. In the 1890s he experimented with porcelain and stoneware.
gallery - A raised border or miniature railing of wood or metal used as an ornamental surround to the top of a table, tray, shelf or cabinet.
galloon - Braid, lace or ribbon woven from silver, gold or silk threads, used for trimming upholstery, uniforms and sometimes dresses.
Gandhara - Province in Pakistan from which came stone carvings combining Indian and Mediterranean influences. Early examples date from the 2nd and 3rd centuries and depict Buddha in Graeco-Rornan costume. Later examples, usually heads, are made of stucco or terracotta. The sculpture was much collected in Victorian times. Most common items seen today are reliefs, Buddha figures and miniature stupas (shrines).
gaozu - See stem cup.
garden carpet - A Persian carpet design which reflects the layout of a formal garden or Chahar Bagh (four gardens), which is specifically mentioned in the Koran as a feature of Paradise. The earliest surviving examples date from the first half of the 17thC.
garnet - Family of minerals including six varieties of similar red gemstone, namely: pyrope (rhodolite), almandine, grossular, andradite (demantoid), spessartite, and uvarovite. The most common garnets used for jewellery are the very dark red pyrope or Bohemian stones, which are usually rose-cut (see jewel cutting) or, on bead necklaces, naturally faceted, and almandine garnets which are usually cut en cabochon (and known as carbuncles) or emerald-cut.
garniture - Matching set of three, five or seven ornaments, usually vases, for decorative display. A garniture de cheminÃˆe is a set for the mantelpiece. The ornaments were originally Ã³ at the end of the 17thC -Japanese or chinese export porcelain, or Dutch delft copies, comprising an odd number of baluster vases and covers with an even number of intervening 'beaker' vases of cylindrical or waisted form. Silver versions were made in small numbers in Europe, and in the late 18thC the term was also used to describe clock and candlestick sets. Dressing-table sets are known as garnitures de toilette; a set for a side table as a garniture de table .
gasolier - Decorative gas lighting piece made in the latter half of 19thC of brass or other metal. It resembles a chandelier, with branches holding burners emanating from a central shaft, but is hollow to allow gas to be piped through.
gate-leg table - A type of drop-leaf table with a structure hinged like a gate beneath that pivots out to support the leaves. The gate-leg was introduced in the late 16thC and in common use up until the end of the 18thC.
gather - Blob of molten glass that is collected from the furnace on the end of a blowpipe in order to be blown into shape.
Gauffering - 1 Term describing the impresssed decoration on gilded edges of book bindings, applied with heated finishing tools. 2 The term gauffered describes the relief pattern on any textile other than velvet. Velvet decorated in this way is described as stamped velvet.
genre painting - Style of painting linked with the ideals and 'sensibility' of the Victorian middle classes, in which domestic scenes with a moral, sentimental, historical or literary theme were popular.
Georgian style - British 18thC style characterised by the proportions and ornaments of classical architecture, applied universally to buildings, furniture and decorative art forms. Passing styles within the period, including Chinese and gothic, were also accommodated. The Georgian era is divided into two main periods: the early Georgian period, 1720-60, under the reign of George I up to 1727 and George II thereafter, and the late Georgian period, 1760-1800, under the reign of George III. The term 'Georgian style' also sometimes includes the regency period to 1830.
German silver - See nickel silver.
gesso - A form of plaster which can be carved and gilded or painted for use as a decorating medium on furniture. Gesso (pronounced jesso) is a dense mix of powdered chalk and size which hardens on drying. It is built up in layers onto a surface or over a wire framework, or cast into a mould. The material was often used in place of wood for detailed relief work on chairs, mirror frames and pier tables from the mid- 18thC and increasingly in the 19thC.
Gibbons, Grinling - (1648-1721) Dutch-born sculptor who moved to Britain at 19 and became renowned for his carved decorations in wood, marble and stone. His craft was applied to chimney pieces, picture and mirror frames, panelling, tables and cabinet stands. He was appointed master carver in wood to King Charles II, a position he held until the reign of George I. He was commissioned by Sir Christopher Wren to carry out work in St Paul's Cathedral and Hampton Court Palace.
gilding - Liquid gold is a solution of powdered gold leaf and oils containing sulphur. Used on meissen porcelain by 1730, and in Britain from the mid-18thC, it produces a film of metal with a similar effect to that of lustre ware.
Giles, James - (1718-80) British outside decorator who was responsible for some of the finest decoration on worcester and chelsea porcelain. His London studio also decorated opaque white, green and blue glassware with neoclassical designs similar to those found on Giles's work for Worcester.
Gillows - The most successful firm of British 18thC furniture-makers outside London, founded in Lancaster by Robert Gillow (1704-72), a joiner. The company was later renowned for its elegant, well-made, solid but simple pieces in georgian and regency styles, and also for its clock cases. The company appears to be the first British firm to stamp its furniture. The stamped mark 'Gillows' or 'Gillows Lancaster' can usually be seen on the top of drawer fronts. The firm continued to flourish, changing its name to Waring & Gillow Ltd in the early years of the 20thC.
giltwood - Any wood that is gilded, whether with gold paint or gold leaf.
gimmal - A flask made of tinted or transparent glass or stoneware from the 17thC. The flask, designed to hold oil and vinegar, has an interior division to make two separate containers each with its own spout.
gimmal ring - Mid- 15th to 18thC wedding or engagement ring consisting of two or three interlocking hoops which fit together to form one hoop. The setting also splits and joins again to form an ornament, such as a heart or clasped hands.
Gimson, Ernest - (1864-1919) Artist-craftsman and designer, working with furniture, embroidery, metal and plaster. His furniture is traditional with turned legs and rails, spindle backs and rush seats, and was greatly influenced by William morris. He was involved early on in the arts and crafts movement.
girandole - 2 An elaborate US made clock, resembling a banjo clock, designed c. 1818 with gilded decorations, including scrolls, festoons and birds. 3 In jewellery, pearl or gem drops suspended in groups of three or more from an earring, pendant or brooch.
gisarme - See polearms.
glacÃˆe - Upholsterer's term for cloth with a highly lustrous surface finish.