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De-mystifying the terms used by antique dealers, auctioneers and specialists.
Search for glossary terms (regular expression allowed)
Term Main definition
Antler Furniture
Antler and horn table and chairs became popular in Germany and Scotland during the mid 1800's. Chairs, in particular, look dangerous, as well as uncomfortable. In the United States, buffalo horns were used in a similar manner.
The use of finishes and other techniques to create the appearance of age. Antiquing can be applied to metal home accents, wooden pieces, and even leather to create an elegantly worn look.
Antique Glass
A trade term for glass more than 25 years old
A term used in the past to describe Greek and Roman artefacts, but since Victorian times it has widened to included anything over 100 years old. This is the legal definition for export and other purposes.
A classical flower motif (from the Greek anthos, a flower), resembling honeysuckle. It was much used in the 1700´s for architectural adornment and on furniture. Virtually indeistinguishable from the palmette, it was often used in conjunction with it by Adams and other neo-Classical designers.
Process for restoring the malleability of silver and other metals that are made brittle by hammering. The metal is heated until red hot and then immersed into cold water.
Annealed Glass
Under natural conditions, the surface of molten glass will cool more rapidly than the centre. This results in internal stresses which may cause the glass sheet or object to crack, shatter or even explode some time later.
The annealing process is designed to eliminate or limit such stresses by submitting the glass to strictly controlled cooling in a special oven known as a 'lehr'. Inside the lehr, the glass is allowed to cool to a temperature known as the 'annealing point'. When the glass reaches this point, the lehr temperature is stabilized for a specific length of time (depending on the glass type, its thickness, its coefficient of expansion and the amount of residual stress required) to allow stresses present in the glass to relax. This phase is followed by a period of cooling with a pre-defined temperature gradient.
Aneroid Barometer
Áneroid´means ´containing no liquid´, and this form of barometer is so called bbecause it uses atmospheric pressure on a partial vacuum rather than on mercury. The invention goes back to Leibniz (1646-1716), but its first commercial use was by Lucien Vidie and his competitor, Eugéne Bourdon in the mid 1800´s. Desk or mantelpiece versions with visible workings were popular, and pocket types were also made in many sizes with gold, silver or brass cases. They should not be confused with anemometers or wind-gauges.
Wrought iron or cast iron supports for logs, which were made in pairs from the 1400's to the 1700's , when coal replaced wood for heating most houses. They were vaguely dog-shaped, with upright stems, usually on two feet, and horizontal ´backs´ running to a hind foot. Most are simple and rustic , but great houses had grander versions in bronze, brass and even silver. Many of these were purely decorative, and were replaced by smaller, humbler versions for actual use.
The name andiron is thought to be a grammatical perversion of endiron. They are also known as Firedogs.

See also Firedogs

Ancient Glass
Generally refers to glass made before the Venetian era of glass making.
American Clock
The most commonly found American clocks in Britain is the mass produced, late 1800´s, wooden wall or mantel clock by the Ansonia Clock Co. They may have pediments or flat tops and painted or transfer-decorated panels below the dials. However, during the same period American makers were capable of better quality, and more impressive items were also exported.
A hard light reddish brown wood with a curled and mottled grain from the Moluccas Islands in South East Asia. It is used in was used for veneers in furniture marquetry.
A fossil resin chiefly found on the southern shore of the Baltic. Translucent, it has a rich, nicotine-yellowish-brown colour. It has been popular since the Middle Ages for decorative items and embellishments to furniture, as well as beads for jewellery.
Amalgam Gilding
The process used for the gilding of many copper alloys in ancient and historic times. Gold becomes pasty when mixed with mercury and may be applied as a paste over a surface. This can be followed by heating to drive off most of the mercury, or the mercury can be applied to the clean surface of the object to be gilded, followed by the attachment of gold leaf or foil. 
A compound or mixture of mercury with other metals. Mercury may form an amalgam with gold, silver, tin, zinc, lead, copper, and other metals. The microstructure of these amalgams may be complex.