Glossary

Pad foot

Club foot resting on an integral disc.

Pagoda

In China and Japan,a tower, usually having several stories, built in connection with a temple or monastery.

palette

The group of colors used in a particular style or by a particluar factory or decorator.

Paraiba Tourmaline

The Paraiba tourmaline was first discovered in Brazil in 1989 and stands today as one of the world’s rarest and most vibrant gemstones. Characterized by an electric-blue color, the finest examples have the distinction of having the incredibly rare “neon” coloration.

Paraiba tourmalines are now found in two places in the world: Brazil and Africa. The gems of Brazil possess the greatest fire and brilliance while the African variety tends to be more green and muted. The gems owe their unique coloring to the presence of copper in the stone. Due to the specific mineral composition of the stones found in the Brazilian mine, nature has created a gemstone that stands out among all others, and is considered even more rare than diamonds.

Parquetry

Inlay of geometric design, used for decorative flooring.

Partner's desk

Desk large enough to seat two people facing each other which working drawers on both sides.

paste

The composite material from which porcelain is made.

pastiglia

A technique used to decorate small gilded items made from a white powder derived from lead. Often used during the Italian Renaissance for decorating tiny caskets, it was much too fragile for use on larger items.

pastille burners

Popular from 1820-1850, pastille burners were containers often in the form of cottages, churches, or summer houses, with detachable lids for burning cassolette perfumes (incense).

Pate-sur-pate

A type of 19th century porcelain featuring low-relief designs carved in slip and applied to a contrasting body.

Patina

Term used to designate a mellow sheen formed on the surface of furniture, due to wear, age, exposure, and hand-rubbing. Also a film usually greenish, formed on copper or bronze after long exposure.

patination

The change of color of a metal surface due to a chemical reaction between the metal and its environment. A patina can be created naturally or artificially.

Pedestal

Tall, narrow base which supports a statue, lamp, vase or any decorative object. Usually treated with moldings at the top and a base block on the bottom. Without moldings it is called a plinth.

Pediment

Broad triangular or curved space above a portico, doorway, window or cabinet. Can have segmental, scroll, and broken forms.

Pembroke table

A drop-leaf table.

Petit, Jacob

Jacob Petit owned one of the most important and well-known porcelain factories in France. He rose from humble beginnings to become a major producer of Rococo ornamental ware in the 1830s. Jacob Petit's highly decorative porcelain was enormously popular in both England and France. His heavily molded and somewhat eccentric style has proven to be well-made and designed to endure the test of time. Petit's peices are normally clearly marked with the letters J.P. in underglaze blue.

Pewter

Alloy of tin and lead which has a dull gray appearance and is used for the making of tableware and ornaments. Originally it was intended as a substitute for silver but its value diminished in the 17th century with the advent of chinaware for everyday use.

Phyfe, Duncan

America's most famous cabinetmaker 1768-1854. His work was greatly influenced by Sheraton, Dreictoire, and Empire design. He used mostly mahogany with finely carved ornaments. Known for federal design.

Pie-crust table

A small, round table having a top with its edge carved or molded in scallops. Common in 18th-century English furniture.

Pier glass

Tall, narrow framed mirror originally placed between two windows to enhance light coming into a room. Often an accompaniment to a low table or consol.

pierced work

Decorative technique used on precious and non-precious metals, created by perforating the metal sheet. Some extraordinary pierced work was achieved by the noteworthy Goldsmiths and Silversmiths of London during the 18th and 19th centuries.

pietre dure

An Italian phrase which means "hard stones," pietre dure is often used to describe sculptural or decorative use of hard stones. This technique was used to decorate furniture, cameos, vases and decorative panels.

Pilaster

Architectural term for a flattened column attached to a facade for decoration rather than structural support.

Pine

Wood that is uniform in texture but sometimes strongly marked with annual rings. It dries easily and does not shrink or swell greatly with changes in moisture content.

polychrome

Decoration using three or more colors.

Poplar

Even-textured and straight-grained wood, it is available in lumber as well as in thin stock suitable for cross-banding and face veneers.

porcelain

Translucent white ceramic body made from kaolin and petuntse (hard-paste) or another ingredient that induces translucency (soft-paste) fired at high temperatures.

Porphyry

Rock sunstance composed of crystals of quartz, used during the reign of Louis XIV for table tops.

pottery

Generic term for all ceramic wares except for porcelain.

Provincial

Peasant-like and naive in style.

putti

(pl. for putto) cupids or cherubs commonly used as a decorative motif.

Putti

A young boy, commonly seen in Italian painting and sculpture.