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.
Wine Cooler - (see - cellaret)
wine funnel - A funnel sometimes with a curved spout and a sieve for separating sediment, used for decanting red wine from the 17th to 19th centuries. The funnels are found in silver, porcelain, pewter or silver plate. Late 28th and early 19th-century examples are smaller and plainer than those made after the 1820s.
wine table - 1 Semicircular table sometimes with a pivoted arm and coaster fitted to the inside curve which could be swung across to pass wine to fellow drinkers. Wine tables were used for after-dinner drinks around the hearth from the late 18th to early 19th centuries, hence the alternative names of social or fireside tables. 2 A small table with a galleried top to hold decanters and clean glasses, and notches cut out of the rim where dirty glasses can be hung by the foot.
wine trolley - See coaster.
wine waiter - Table on castors with partitioned top for holding wine bottles, used in the 18thC to circulate wine during a meal. Some wine waiters incorporate a cupboard.
wing chair - Upholstered chair with wings extending either from the upper part, or from the whole length of the back in order to protect the occupant's head from draughts. Wing chairs were first introduced during the latter part of the 17thC.
Wood, Ralph - (1715-72) One of a famous family of staffordshire potters to whom many Staffordshire figures, often of provincial characters, and flatwares are attributed - although sometimes on rather slim documentary evidence. Many toby jugs and rustic groups with in-glaze colour are attributed to Wood and his son, also Ralph (1748-95).
Wood, Samuel - (c.1704-94) Prolific London-based silversmith, a specialist in cruets and casters.
Woodall, Thomas and George - Two of the most important of late 19th and early 20th-century British cameo glass carvers, trained by John north wood and then employed by Thomas webb & sons of Stourbridge. Their joint works are rarely signed Ã«T &l G WoodallÃ and are in Victorian Classical style, although George in particular had a talent for figure compositions. His early work was hand-carved, while later pieces were worked with an engraver's wheel. In the late 19thC, the brothers headed a team of up to 70 craftsmen producing inkwells, candlesticks, door panels, scent bottles, plaques and vases.
woodcut - A print formed from a design carved in relief on the plank surface of a woodblock. The background is cut away leaving the design raised, and it is this which receives the ink. The inked design prints and the background remains free of ink. In a wood engraving, the design is cut into the endgrain surface so that the background is in relief and takes the ink, and the engraved design shows white on the finished print.
work table - A small table with a bag or box suspended beneath the top in which to store articles related to the use of the table - such as needlework or chess pieces. Work tables date from the early 19thC, and were popular in the Victorian era.
wreathing - Spiral ridges of slightly increased thickness on the inside of some hollow-ware, shaped, on the wheel, by the potter's fingers.
Wrigglework - Zigzag pattern used on British pewter and silverware in the 17th and 18th centuries. An engraving tool was pushed over the surface at a 45âˆž angle, while rocking or turning the object.
Wright, Frank Lloyd - (1867-1959) US architect and designer whose work had a widespread impact on 20thC decorative arts. Wright designed his buildings to fit in with their environment, with complementary interior furnishings and fittings. Although he was closely connected with the American arts and crafts movement, he did not reject mechanical methods, and much of his work has a machine-made look which was to inspire the Dutch furniture designer Gerrit rietveld. Wright explored the potential of new materials such as painted and tubular steel and his work was dominated by an emphasis on the angular; long narrow slats were a recurring feature in his furniture.
writing chair - See corner chair.
Wrotham ware - Slipware produced by a group of potteries in Kent c. 1612-1712. The coarse reddish body of the pieces was coated with white clay slip, decorated with slip-trailed swirls or stamped motifs and then covered with a yellowish lead glaze. Candlesticks were a speciality and tygs and other vessels survive, some with the name of potters such as Nicholas Hubble, John Green and George Richardson inscribed.
wrought iron - Ironwork that is drawn and worked into elaborate shapes on an anvil while hot. It is not as hard or brittle as cast iron and is used for objects such as grilles, screens, garden furniture, candle-holders and andirons. Wrought iron has been made since ancient times. In the late 19thC, William morris, a central figure in the arts and crafts movement, encouraged the use of decorative wrought ironwork in Britain, a pattern echoed throughout Europe. One of the finest exponents was the French designer and metalworker Edgar brandt.
wrythening - Spiral or diagonal ridges, fluting or reeding especially fashionable on 17th-19thC glass. It is also found on furniture, pewter and silver - the top of a wrythen-top spoon is a spirally fluted oval.
wucai - The Chinese term for a porcelain palette consisting of five colours (wu is the Chinese word for five). The design is not outlined in underglaze blue (as in doucail). Wucai was formerly spelt wu-ts'ai.
Wyon family - A family of gifted and prolific coin and medal engravers who dominated British die engraving during most of the 19thC. Thomas Wyon (1792-1817) was an engraver at the Royal Mint 1811-15 and designed the Waterloo medal of 1815. His brother William (1795-1851) was the chief coin engraver at the Royal Mint from 1828 until his death, and his work included the early portrait of Queen Victoria that appeared on the 1840 Penny Black postage stamp.
X-chair - Medieval-style chair with X-shaped framework. Variations on the X-frame theme were adopted in 15thC Italy for folding wooden chairs, in 18thC Britain by sheraton, and for strip-metal chairs in the mid- 19thC. An X-chair is sometimes called a savonarola.
yao - Chinese word for 'ware'.
Yataghan - A sword which has a blade with a double curve and large curled grips on the hilt. It was popular in the Balkans and in the Near East during the 19thC.
yew - Although a softwood, the timber of this native British species is very dense and strong. The wood is golden-brown in tone, close-grained and polishes to a fine finish; and as the trunks tend to twist, the wood is often beautifully figured. Yew has been a popular medium for the framework of country-made furniture since the 16thC, and from the 17th for turned drawer knobs and spindles; in the following century the sticks, bows and legs of the best quality windsor chairs were of yew. Yew, particularly the whorled and knotted burr wood, has also been used as a veneer, and was favoured by 20thC artist-craftsmen such as Ernest gimson and Sir Gordon russell.
yingqing - With ding ware, one of the earliest Chinese porcelain wares, dating from the song dynasty (960-1279). Yingqing (misty-blue) refers to the translucent blue glaze, formerly known as qingbai. The wares - mainly bowls - survive today having been dug up from burial grounds, but have also been reproduced in Hong Kong and Taiwan.
Yixing - Chinese potteries specialising in red stoneware. Products, particularly teapots, were exported to Europe in the 17thC, and inspired similar ware produced at Meissen, and by the elers brothers in England from the late 17thC.
York flagon - See acorn flagon.
Zebrawood - A decorative, reddish-brown wood barred with dark stripes, also known as tiger wood. It is a hard, heavy, Brazilian timber, most commonly seen in banding and inlaid decoration. In the late 18thC and throughout the 19thC, zebrawood was sometimes used as a veneer for complete surfaces of bureaux, desks and tables.
Zinc - Bluish-white metallic element. It is used to form various alloys such as brass, bronze and nickel silver. Zinc was not produced commercially in Britain until the 18thC. See spelter.
Zircon - Gemstone which ranges in colour through yellow, red and orange to green. Colourless, golden-brown and sky-blue versions are produced by heat treatment. Most of the mineral suitable for gemstones comes from the Far East and Sri Lanka. Yellow and brown shades of zircon were often termed hyacinth, and transparent or colourless types are sometimes known as jargons or jargoons. Colourless zircons are sometimes used as substitutes for diamonds, but are not as hard or brilliant.