Glossary

cabochon

(1) Smooth round or oval raised decoration. (2) The simplest style of a gemstone; oval, round or teardrop shaped with a rounded top and flat or concave base. This style is used for many opaque stones.

Cabriole leg

A furniture leg with a double curve. A stylized form of animal hind leg with elongated "S" shape. Popular in late 18th-century and 19th-century Europe.

Cache pot

A French term used to identify a decorative china or metal jardiniere designed to hold a small potted plant or cut flowers.

Camel back

Chair or sofa back of late Chippendale or Hepplewhite style. The top rail is in the form of a serpentine curve with two humps downward and three humps upward.

cameo

A small-scale, shallow relief decoration of carved stone, shell, glass or ceramic typically set against a contrasting colored background developed during the Hellenistic period. Cameos are predominately used in jewelry decoration.

cameo glass

Glass decoration utilizing two layers of glass in which the exterior layer, usually white, is cut away from the underlying colored layer creating a contrasting relief design.

Candelabra

A branched candlestick or lamp stand.

Caning

A woody stem of rattan or sugar cane used for wickerwork, seats of chairs, summer furniture, etc.

Canopy

A draped covering of fabric suspended over a piece of furniture and supported by four posts.

Canterbury

Ornamental stand having compartments and divisions for papers, portfolios, envelopes, magazines, etc. Originally designed for storing sheet music and books, canterburies first appeared in England during the late 18th century, and today are suitably designed for holding magazines and newspapers.

Capital

The decorative crowning motif atop a column or pilaster shaft, usually composed of moldings and ornament. The most characteristic feature of each classical architectural order.

Carlton House Desk

The original “Carlton House” desk was made in the 1790s for George IV, then the Prince of Wales, living at Carlton House in London. Though little else is known about the origins of this important desk, the style and bearing are doubtless the hallmarks of a Thomas Sheraton design. Many variations emerged from that original desk.

cartouche

Typically oval in shape, a cartouche is an ornamental motif with curved or scrolling edges. Often the cartouche contains a coat-of-arms or an inscription.

caryatid

A decorative upright female figure used in the place of a column.

Case furniture

Furniture which provides storage space.

cassolette

A vase, usually gilt-bronze, with a pierced lid for burning perfume pastilles made in France from the 17th century on. Some examples often have a cover which reverses to form a candlestick.

casters

(also known as muffineers) Made in sets of three, with a large pierced caster for sugar, a smaller pierced caster for black pepper and a thrid, non-pierced caster for mustard. The mustard caster's top usually features decorative engraving or other decoration.

celadon

A semi-translucent, usually green glaze, used on Chinese stoneware.

Cellaret

A portable chest, case, or cabinet for storing bottles, decanters, and glasses, dating from the 18th century.

Chaise lounge

A long chair designed for relaxing and semi-reclining, usually upholstered. Adapted from the French 18th-century style, it was often made in two parts: a deep bergere and large stool, which when put together, formed a daytime sofa. Also called a recamier.

champlevé

A type of enamelling in which powdered glass is placed in the hollowed-out areas of a piece before firing.

chasing

A technique used to decorate metal objects, especially silver, which involves the use of shaped punches and a chasing hammer to model the piece.

Chenets

Chenets, or andirons, were a staple of any well-appointed home, serving as both decorative and useful objects. They were placed in front of a fireplace to protect priceless rugs and flooring from rolling logs.

Chest-on-chest

A chest of drawers consisting of two parts, one mounted on top of the other. Similar to a tallboy.

Chesterfield

An overstuffed sofa of large size with a continuous straight back and upholstered ends.

Cheval mirror

A large full-length mirror, usually standing on the floor.

chiffonier

The chiffonier is a sideboard, or cabinet, introduced during the late 18th century with open shelves for books and a cupboard or drawers below.

Chippendale

Thomas Chippendale 1718-1779 was one of the great cabinet makers of the 18th-century England. His work shows a refinement of Georgian styles, influenced by the Gothic, Chinese, and French rococo. First of his era to extensively use mahogany rather than walnut, the prevailing wood in the Early Georgian period. In 1754 he published "The Gentlemen's and Cabinetmaker's Drectory," illustrating the styles of the day.

chocolate cup

A large cup with two handles, a cover and a saucer.

cloisonné

A type of enamelling in which compartments separated by thin strips of metal are filled with powdered glass prior to firing.

Cockfighting chair

Chair for reading and writing or viewing sports events used by straddling the seat and facing the back. The back has a small shelf. Popular from Queen Anne to Chippendale periods.

Commemorative Wares

Wares that commemorate an important or historical event, such as a battle, coronation, or wedding.

Commode

French form of low chest-of-drawers , originally intended for the drawing room, dating from the mid 17th-century and very popular in the 18th century. Became a term for bedroom cupboards in the 19th century.

Console table

A small table that can be attached to the wall in the back having two legs in front or can be free-standing against the wall.

Cornice

The projeting, crowning portion of a classical entablature. Also horizontal molding at the top of case pieces, such as bookcases and cabinets.

Cornucopia

Classical motif in the shape of a goat's horn out of which spills fruit, vegetables, and flowers. A symbol of fertility and abundance popular during the Baroque and Rococo periods. Also horn-of-plenty.

coromandel

This valuable wood hails from India, Sri Lanka and South East Asia. Characterized by its hazel brown color with dramatic black stripes, this wood is heavy and very hard, much like ebony wood, to which it is closely related. Coromandel was used in the finest furnishings such as cases, revered for its distinct appearance. It was also used to craft walking sticks, billiard cues and musical instruments.

crackle

A network of cracks in the glaze of some Chinese porcelain, deliberately introduced as decoration.

crazing

Tiny surface cracks in the glaze of porcelain or on a painting.

creamware

A lead-glazed and cream colored earthenware with a light body consisting of pale clay. Creamware was perfected in Staffordshire in the mid-18th century.

Credenza

Sideboard with doors surmounted by drawers, used for storage.

Crossbanding

Thin strips of decorative cross-grained veneer.

Crotch veneer

A thin sheet of wood cut from the intersection of the main trunk and branch of a tree, showing an irregular effect of graining.

Crown molding

The highest molding on a door, window, or cabinet.

cruet

A cruet is a small bottle used for oils, vinegars and other condiments. Its earliest use was ecclesiastical for wine, oil and water. A few medieval examples exist today. In the late 17th century, cruets were used domestically and were made of glass imported from Italy and adorned with silver or silver-plated mounts. Cruets were grouped together on a stand in a frame or rack typically with a central vertical handle and supporting feet. The number of bottles could vary from two to six or more and were often combined with casters.

crystal

Fine, high-quality glass containing lead oxide invented in 17th century England. The lead oxide is attributed to providing the glass with extraordinary qualities of brillance, sound and a suitable texture for cutting or engraving. Some of the finest crystal ever made is from Baccarat in France (est. 1816) and Waterford in Ireland (est. 1729).

cut glass

Any glass whose surface has been cut into facets, grooves and depressions aided by a large, rotating wheel. Wheel cutting glass decoration was developed in the 8th century BC, but the technique of faceting wasn't perfected until the 18th century in England. Although cutting glass is a costly and difficult process, the brilliant effects are extraordinary!