Terms of the Trade: Japanning

Japanning is the term given to the European practice of applying East Asian style lacquer work decoration to large items of furniture and household goods. The term originates from the late 17th century as the opening of trade routes in the East triggered an interest in Chinese and Japanese fashions in Britain, France, Italy and the Netherlands.

The Makers Series: John Cary

One of the most celebrated and successful cartographers of the Regency period, John Cary’s detailed depictions ushered in a modern era of map-making, spurning the decorative in favour of precision and professionalism.

Born in 1755, in the village of Corley on the borders of Wiltshire and Somerset, John was the second of four sons born to George and Mary Cary. Shortly after his 15th birthday, Cary travelled to London to begin his apprenticeship as a map engraver with William Palmer at his premises in New Street Square.

The Makers Series: Celadon

The term Celadon has dual uses in the context of Chinese ceramics. It refers to the beautiful jade green glazed porcelain, also known as greenware, which was made famous by the Longquan kilns in China’s South-eastern Zhejiang province, and also to the glaze itself with which these pieces were decorated.

Terms of the Trade: Tunbridge Ware

Tunbridge ware is the collective term given to a form of decorative inlaid woodwork in which small pieces of different coloured woods are used to form a mosaic or geometric pattern. As its name suggests, the technique was developed in the historic Kent town of Tunbridge Wells.

The origins of Tunbridge ware are routed in the town’s history as a spa resort. Historically part of the parish of Speldhurst, Tunbridge’s fortunes changed in 1606 when Baron North stayed at a nearby hunting lodge in the hope that the country air would improve his ill health.

Terms of the Trade: Wainscot Chair

Popular throughout Europe and colonial North America, the wainscot chair is a style of oak seating that rose to prominence in the early 17th century.

The term wainscot derives from the Middle Saxon term ‘wagenschot’, meaning to line the wall with boards, and refers to the oak panelling common in Manors and Country Houses throughout Western Europe in the 17th and 18th centuries.

The Makers Series: René Lalique

A truly remarkable individual, René Lalique is not only recognised as the most gifted jewellery designer of the Art Nouveau movement but was able to reinvent his craft to become the finest glass maker of the Art Deco period.

Lalique was born in the rural village of Aÿ in North-eastern France, an area better known as the heart of the Champagne producing region. Although his family moved to Paris when René was only two years old, the natural beauty encountered on his summer holidays to Aÿ would be a continuing influence throughout his career.

The Makers Series: Black Forest Carvings

Contrary to popular misconception, the genre of wood carvings known collectively as Black Forest carvings do not emanate from the Black Forest region of Southwest Germany at all. 

They are in fact the work of the master craftsmen of the Swiss region of Brienz, on the northern shore of Lake Brienz, situated in the South East corner of the Canton of Bern.

The confusion probably stems from the fact that the rich darker woods favoured by the carvers of Brienz bear a striking similarity to the dark pines from which the Black Forest region gets its name.

Terms of the Trade: Okimono

The term Okimono is a Japanese word used to describe an ornament for display or decorative object. It derives from the words ‘oku’ meaning to set, place or assign, and ‘mono’ which means an object or article.

To modern collectors the term Okimono refers to the wonderfully intricate and often highly decorative carvings, sculptures and works of art which began production in Japan from the early years of the Meiji Period (1868-1912).

Terms of the Trade: Stipple engraving

Stipple engraving is a style of print making that was first used by artists in the 15th century, in the production of fine works that we now term Old Master Prints.

The technique most commonly involves the artist scoring their design into a copper print plate by means of a pattern of dots which, when applied to the final print, can convey the effect of shade, tone, or definition.

The Makers Series: Edward Lear

Although perhaps best known for his poetry and limericks, such as ‘The Owl and the Pussycat”, the author Edward Lear was also a very accomplished artist and illustrator. A prodigious sketcher throughout his frequent travels, Lear’s landscapes of Italy, Egypt and India are now as cherished as his literary legacy.

Terms of the Trade: Whatnot

Perhaps the most colloquial and winsome term in the antique lexicon, a whatnot is the name given to a floor-standing piece of open display furniture, comprised of slender uprights which support a series of shelves, based on the French design known as an ‘etagere’.

The term is a derivation of the old English word ‘whatnot’, which dates back to the mid-16th century and, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, can be used to mean ‘anything’, ‘everything’, or ‘all sorts of things.’