Apr
06
2011
1

Were Argyle gravy jugs named after the Duke of Argyll?

Inveraray castle kitchen, ArgyllIf you’ve heard of an argyle gravy jug, you’ll know it’s a pot with a double wall. Hot water goes into the cavity between the outside and inside, and creates an insulating jacket to keep the gravy warm. They were popular in wealthy British households in the later 18th century, a period of elegant dinners [&hel[more...]

Written by | 25,178 views | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
Oct
22
2010
0

What is an etagere?

etagere design american 1850sWhat makes an etagere different from other sets of shelves? The name came into fashion in the 1850s when English adopted the French word étagère for a piece of furniture with open shelves for ornaments and oddments. The etagere was a decorative piece made from hardwood by a cabinet-maker. It looked good in a drawing-room [&hel[more...]

Written by | 11,455 views | Tags: , , , | 0 Comments
Sep
14
2010
0

Is a highboy different from a tallboy?

Antique American highboys Tall chests of drawers, made in two pieces, with an upper chest fitting into the top of the lower, were popular in the 18th century. In Britain they are known as tallboys, while Americans call them highboys. The English master cabinet-maker Chippendale inspired some of the best designs on both sides of the Atlantic, including [&hel[more...]

Written by | 10,874 views | Tags: , , , | 0 Comments
Jun
07
2010
0

Can a luckenbooth brooch have a heart but no crown?

antique luckenbooth brooches - Anstruther-Duncan collectionMost luckenbooth brooches sold today are heart-shaped with a crown above. Sometimes the design is a pair of interlocking twin hearts.  But it wasn’t always so. This kind of traditional Scottish brooch could be a very simple outline heart, as you can see in some museums. So don’t take it as a rule that only [&hel[more...]

Written by | 8,589 views | Tags: , , , , , | 0 Comments
May
20
2010
0

What is the Art Loss Register?

bad artists imitate great artists stealThe recent theft of paintings from the Paris Museum of Modern Art which included works by Picasso and Matisse, will concern all gallery owners and private collectors. Stolen works of art and antiques often disappear never to be seen again, or if they do re-emerge, it is often several years later. In an attempt to [&hel[more...]

Written by | 4,731 views | Tags: , , , , | 0 Comments
Mar
22
2010
4

What is a Jacobite drinking glass?

jacobite wine glassesImagine your social club has to meet in secret because it's affiliated with a banned political party. This was roughly the situation facing the 18th century Jacobites: supporters of the Stuart royal dynasty whose ancestors had sat on the throne in London before falling out of favour. Despite the risk of being arrested for treason,  [&hel[more...]

Written by | 5,670 views | Tags: , , , | 4 Comments
Feb
23
2010
--

What is a hong bowl?

Two views of a hong bowl (photo by myoarin - CC-BY)A hong bowl is a punch bowl made in China for the export trade, originally in the 18th century, when European countries established trading posts in China. Back then, such a trading post was called a factory, in Chinese, hong. The factories didn’t produce anything but were rather the base of the factor: the agent, [&hel[more...]

Written by | 3,219 views | Tags: , , , | 0 Comments
Nov
04
2009
2

How did the Victorians make feather flowers?

Victorian feather flower arrangements under glass domes (Photo by quezi.com - CC-BY)Travellers to South America in the 1800s brought flowers made from feathers home to Europe or the USA. Feather flowers were displayed in the London Great Exhibition of 1851, and over the next few years instructions for making your own appeared in various ladies' magazines. The Victorians had a taste for novelty crafts that ornamented [&hel[more...]

Written by | 6,984 views | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments
Jul
30
2009
2

What is mourning jewellery?

Mourning brooches. Victorian grieving hand - photo by et sans. Georgian enamel picture brooch - photo by perfectjewels - both CC-BYIf you were bereaved in the 1800s, your clothes and jewels had to be black for a period of mourning, the length depending on whether you were widow, daughter, sister etc. Apart from the usual gold and silver settings, mourning jewellery was made of black jet – a “stone” derived from coal -  onyx, black [&hel[more...]

Written by | 8,647 views | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments
Jun
10
2009
1

What is chinoiserie in interior design?

Wall covering painted with Chinese pagoda and European fruitChinoiserie was a new fashion in the 18th century when China and the Far East seemed incredibly exotic to people in Europe. Imported arts and crafts had an excitingly different beauty from those made at home, and some were clearly superior to anything European – especially Chinese porcelain. Designers and craftsmen wanted to recreate the [&hel[more...]

Written by | 7,211 views | Tags: , , , , | 1 Comment
May
25
2009
2

Is famille rose porcelain always Chinese?

Famille rose detail from vase, southern China, late 1700s (Photo by dalbera - CC-BY)Famille rose decoration for porcelain developed in China around 1720. A new wave of Chinese ceramics using rose and ruby shades in multi-colour designs was greatly admired in Europe. Introduced just before the western craze for oriental style interior decoration peaked in the mid-18th century, plenty was manufactured for export, along with many other Asian [&hel[more...]

Written by | 9,165 views | Tags: , , , | 2 Comments
May
18
2009
0

What was early Wedgwood pottery like?

Wedgwood's 18th century replica of an antique Roman vase - PDJosiah Wedgwood was not only an innovator in ceramic techniques and design, he was also a managing director who insisted on high standards, and promoted his products energetically. In 1759 he founded an enterprise producing good quality, desirable tableware and ornamental ceramics that suited the fashions of the time. Born into a family of potters, [&hel[more...]

Written by | 7,357 views | Tags: , , , | 0 Comments
Apr
02
2009
0

What are Pot Lids?

Strasbourg street scene - pot lid in a frame (photo by answerfinder CC-BY)Pot Lids, or to give them their proper title “under glaze multicoloured printing in ceramic wares”, have been collected from the very first time they were made in the mid-Victorian period. The term pot lids is a generic term. Initially it meant lids that went on pots which contained all manner of products: bear’s grease, [&hel[more...]

Written by | 2,442 views | Tags: , , | 0 Comments
Mar
03
2009
2

What is a gimmel ring?

Gimmel rings - 16th and 17th century - 19th c. engravings - PD-EXPTwo lovers each wear a ring for their engagement; then on marriage they fit the two together to make a wedding ring. This romantic custom, using a double-hoop gimmel ring, was at a peak of popularity during the 16th and 17th centuries. Gimmel rings have been revived by modern jewellery designers, and seem to have [&hel[more...]

Written by | 25,432 views | Tags: , , , , , , | 2 Comments
Feb
12
2009
3

What is a coromandel screen?

Chinese lacquer screens were shipped to Europe from ports on the Indian Coromandel Coast.  (18th century engraving of Pondicherry - PD)A coromandel screen is a Chinese folding screen coated in black or dark lacquer. The dark background is richly decorated with painted scenes from life or literature, or landscapes, and a variety of  trees, flowers, and birds. Wooden panels are coated with pale clay followed by several layers of lacquer. The design is carved into [&hel[more...]

Feb
09
2009
0

Is a recamier the same as a chaise longue?

What kind of chaise longue is this?  Photo by boopalina+bebe - CC-BYWhen you go hunting for  furniture, you may see an antique day-bed or sofa, fall in love with it, and not care what it’s called. Or you may want to know which of the various French names for different designs suits it best. Is a récamier the same as a chaise longue? And what about [&hel[more...]

Privacy Policy | Acknowledgements