Learn about and understand the items, manufacturers, designers and periods as well as the specialist terms used in describing antiques and collectables. Either click one of the letters below to list the items beginning with that letter, or click on a category on the left side of the screen to list the items under that category.

Zitan Wood

Zitan is the most expensive, and since ancient times, has been considered the most precious of woods.

Zitan wood is the hardest and heaviest of all hardwoods. It is purplish-black to black in colour, and with a grain so dense it is virtually invisible.

Zitan can usually only be obtained in quite narrow strips and so it is rare to find large pieces of furniture made from this wood. True Chinese rosewood is a variety of zitan and is very rare.

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Zoomorphic

Objects made having the shape, form, or likeness of an animal. For example, the Hindu god Ganesha has the head of an elephant.

The term is also applied to furniture made from animal parts. Examples are chandeliers, hallstands and chairs made from deer antlers and umbrella stands, ice buckets and other objects made from an elephant's foot.

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Zsolnay Porcelain

Zsolnay iridescent covered jar, mounted with a wild boar.

The Zsolnay porcelain business was established in 1853 at Pecs, in Hungary, about 200 km south of the capital of Budapest, by Miklos Zsolnay for his son Ignac. In 1862 the younger brother Vilmos took over and expanded the business, producing stonewares decorated in traditional Hungarian styles.

The factory became a leading producer of Art Nouveau ceramics in eastern Europe, and the factory's first major success was at the 1873 World Exhibition in Vienna, which resulted in many export orders. This was followed by participation in the 1878 World Exhibition (1878) Melbourne (1880), Brussels (1888), Chicago (1893) and Antwerp (1894).

After the appointment in 1893 of a new artistic director, Vinsce Wartha, the factory began to make wares of organic form with iridescent glazes that appear metallic and change in hue depending on the angle of reflection, and these were exhibited in 1896, on the occasion of the millennium of the Hungarian Kingdom.

This range was given the name "eosin", from a Greek word "eos" (flush of dawn), which referenced the light red iridescence of the first hue produced. Further eosin colours were introduced, together with finishes such as hand-painted, etched and marbled.

Vilmos Zsolnay died in 1900 and his son Miklós took over, and by the outbreak of World War I Zsolnay was the largest company in Hungary. During the war the Zsolnay turned to manufacturing war-related ceramics, and after the war returned to the manufacture of decorative ceramics on a reduced scale.

During World War II Zsolnay's Budapest factory was bombed, and the company was nationalised under Communist rule in 1948 and "Zsolnay" dropped the from the company's name, but was reinstated in 1982, when the company again became independent.

Zsolnay continues to create original designs as well as issue new editions of past products.

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