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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.
The first photographic image was achieved in 1814 by Frenchman Joseph Niepce, with first photographic with the camera obscura, an optical device that projects an image onto a screen. However, the image required eight hours of light exposure and later faded.
Joseph Niepce continued working on improving his invention Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre, an artist. Niepce died in 1833, but Daguerre carried on, and at a meeting of the French Academy of Sciences in Paris on August 19, 1839 announced he had discovered a new method of photography, the daguerreotype which he named after himself. The daguerreotype process reduced the exposure time from 8 hours to 3 - 15 minutes.
In major cities, professional photographers of the time, known as daguerreotypists, invited celebrities and political figures to their studios, hoping that by displaying a selection of portraits in their windows, the public would be encouraged to be photographed.
However the popularity of the daguerreotype was short-lived, and its use declined in the late 1850s when the ambrotype, a faster and less expensive photographic process, became available. However the ambrotype still required the services of a professional photographer and it was not until the invention of Kodak's Box Brownie in 1900 that the public were able to shoot their own photographs.
Due to the short time (20 years) that the daguerreotype was popular, and the fact that the image was produced directly onto the plate, meaning there were no negatives, original daguerreotypes are scarce. Most daguerreotypes are portraits, with landscapes and street scenes being less less common.
A damascened surface is one in which a metal has been inlaid into the surface of another metal. Typically gold or silver wire is set into fine grooves of a darker metal such as steel, and the then hammered flat to give an unbroken appearance.
Fine damascened items were made in Damascus, after which the technique is named, and it was further developed in Japan where it was used to decorate swords. In the 16th century use of damascening spread to Persia, India, Tibet and Europe, where it was also used on weapons.
Anne Dangar was born at Kempsey, NSW in 1885 and studied painting at Julian Ashton’s School in Sydney and between 1927 and 1928 at the Academie Lhote, in Paris.
She re-visited Sydney from 1928 to 1930 but returned and settled permanently in France. Living in the commune which Albert Gleizes had established at Moly-Sabata in 1927, Anne Dangar learnt pottery and in 1948 or 1949 established her own workshop at Moly-Sabata.
Just before the outbreak of the second world war Anne Dangar spent six months in Morocco potting with local artisans. Anne Dangar died at Moly-Sabata in 1951.
A date aperture is a cut out section in the face of a watch or clock, displaying the day of the month.
Excellent detailed reference books such as Godden's Encyclopaedia of British Pottery and Porcelain Marks will help to identify and date specific manufacturer's marks.
However, there are a few simple guidelines which may also help.
The inclusion of the word 'England' on an item ensured compliance with the American McKinley Tariff Act 1891, which was important for British exporters. An item so marked would have been made after 1891.
In 1921 the act was revised to require the phrase 'Made in' followed by the country. So if an item is marked 'Made in England', it is generally considered to be made after that date, although some manufacturers were using this phrase pior to the act being changed.
The use of the word 'Ltd' of 'Limited' after a company's name indicates a date after 1860, though with ceramic manufacturers this did not become general practice until the 1880's.
The "Verrerie de Nancy" glassworks in Nancy were purchased in 1878 by Jean Daum (1825–1885) and then taken over by his two sons, Auguste (1853-1909) and Antonin (1864-1930) in 1887. They firstly produced coffee and tea services in clear glass with gold rims.
In 1893, the Daum brothers began producing cameo glass, using acid-etching techniques to decorate their wares with bouquets of flowers, clusters of fruit and scenery. During the Universal Exhibition of 1900 Daum was awarded a ‘Grand Prix’ medal.
The award allowed them to move out of the shadow of fellow Nancy glass maker, Emile Galle. In 1904 Galle died, and after that Daum established their prominence in the Nancy glass industry. Though their work during that period closely parallels that of Galle, it is much more yellow and orange in colour.
In 1914 on the outbreak of World War I the plant was closed, and converted into a hospital. It reopened after the war under Paul Daum, son of Auguste, and produced designs in the Art Deco style.
In the 1930's the styles became much plainer and utilitarian, as demonstrated by the 90,000 piece order for the luxury liner "Le Normandie".
The company is still under the name Cristallerie Daum, operating since 1962 as a public company. They make all kinds of figurines in pate-de-verre and crystal glass, as well as their high quality tableware.
Glassware by this company is signed 'DAUM NANCY' with the Cross of Lorraine.
A small writing desk used by ladies, usually with a sloped top insert with leather, a cupboard, slides and drawers for holding pens and paper. There is generally a row of drawers down one side, with false drawers on the opposing side, and the top is surmounted by a brass or fretwork gallery. Made to be freestanding, davenports are finished and polished on all four sides.
Piano top davenports, so called because the lid resembled that of a rounded piano lid, were introduced in about the 1830s. These 'top-of-the-range' piano front davenports usually include a rise and fall secret section, operated by a concealed button above a drawer operating via a system of counter balanced weights concealed in a cavity at the side of the main body, a and a well fitted pull out writing slope, drawers to one side and opposing dummy drawers.
There are very few Australian made davenports.
A couch used for resting during the day, usually scrolled at one end for resting the head and back whilst reclining. The back does not usually extend along the whole length of the piece. The day bed may have six or eight legs.
Englishman William De Morgan (1839 - 1917) was at different stages of his life an artist, potter and writer.
He studied at the Royal Academy and was influenced by the designs of William Morris and Edward Burne-Jones. As an artist his endeavours lay in the design of stained glass windows, and it was not until 1872 that he turned to ceramics, opening a pottery in Chelsea, London. In 1888 in partnership with others, he opened another pottery in Fulham, London.
His art pottery is characterised by his use and mastery of glazes, and use of bold colours such as green, blue, yellow and red in Persian and Moorish designs.
Morgan retired from the business in 1905, which had declined due to his absences abroad due to ill health, and the business closed in 1907.
After his retirement Morgan became a writer and published seven novel before his death in 1917.
The earliest decanters date from the late seventeenth century and were made from blown moulded glass.
They were used to serve wine at a time when there was a move towards less formal dining procedures and the reduced reliance on servants and waiters.
The 1745 Excise Tax caused manufacturers to make decanters lighter in weight. The tax benefited the industry in Ireland where it did not apply. When the tax was repealed in 1845, a heavier gauge was reverted to.
In the second half of the eighteenth century blue, green and amethyst coloured decanters were made.
Decanters often sat on silver bottle coasters with baize bases (some even on castors) and could be 'pushed' around the dining table without making scratches or requiring serving staff.
Degue was the mark used by the Cristalleries de Compiegne (Glassworks of Compiegne), set up in Compiegne, a town about 50 km north of Paris.
The business was established by David Guéron (1892 – 1950). to produce tableware and other functional glass, but after the 1925 Exposition des Arts Decoratifs in Paris the company began producing art glass.
In order to promote the "Degue" name the company also set up a showroom and glassworks in Paris.
The art glass range included vases, paper weights, bowls, lightshades, chandeliers, table lamps, shades.
The company was involved in litigation for six years with Société Anonyme des Verreries Schneider, who produced glass under the "Le Verre Francais" name, accused of copying their designs, and when the case was settled in 1932, both companies were financially exhausted
The company was further weakened by the general strikes in 1936 occasioned by the election of the Popular Front in May 1936, and it ceased production.
The business was officially closed in 1939 at the beginning of World War II.
Delftware is a type of tin-glazed earthenware, known as maiolica in Italy and faience in France. After an initial firing, the items are coated with an opaque white enamel, on which designs are painted, followed by a further firing.
It was first developed in the 9th century in Iraq and spread to Spain and Italy in the Middle Ages. In the 16th century Italian potters introduced the technique to France and also to Antwerp in Belgium. From there it made its way to Holland, England and north Germany. In England it was known as galleyware, a term used until well into the 18th century, when it became known as delftware, reflecting the fact that by then the Dutch town of Delft had become the most important centre of production in Europe.
Manufacture of tin-glazed earthenware in England began with the arrival in 1567 of two Flemish potters, who set up potteries in Norwich and London. Another important factory was set up in Southwark c1618 by a Dutchman but it was not until after the Restoration in 1660 that the number of potteries increased.
London potters moved to Brislington in Avon and then to Bristol and in the 18the century delftware potteries spread to Liverpool, Glasgow, Dublin and Belfast – all ports with access to raw materials.
The influence of Chinese porcelain can be plainly seen in 18th century English delftware, and was inspired by the Chinese porcelain imported by the Dutch East India Company from the early 17th century. Other forms of decoration include European landscapes, biblical subjects, inscribed and commemorative pieces. Although nearly all surviving delftware is decorated, most utilitarian wares were plain white.
Among sought-after items are blue-dash chargers, produced at London and Bristol from c1650 to 1740. Decorated with distinctive blue dashes around the rim, these large dishes depicted contemporary heroes, particularly Royalty, and biblical subjects. A feature peculiar to English delft was the introduction of bianco-sopra-bianco, which consisted of a border pattern of flowers, pine cones and scrollwork being painted in white enamel on a slightly bluish-tinged glaze. Another distinctive type of decoration is the so called Fazackerley palette ; primarily associated with Liverpool from c1750 the colours include sage-green, manganese, pale blue, yellow and red.
The fashion for delftware in the British Isles lasted until the 1770s when it was superseded by creamware which was cheap to make, far more durable and could be stamped, moulded and pierced, lending itself to mass-production. By the end of the 18th century the manufacture of delftware in Britain had virtually ceased.
In order to differentiate the Dutch and English products, it is best to precede the term ‘Delft’ or ‘Delftware’ by Dutch or English. However, it has become customary for dealers and auction houses to use ‘Delft’ for the Dutch wares and ‘delft’ or ‘delftware’ for the English.
Della Robbia Pottery was an Arts & Craft studio pottery that opened in 1894 and was located at Birkenhead in Cheshire.
The founders, Harold Rathbone and Conrad Dressler were originally inspired by the ceramics of the Italian Renaissance and the pottery derived its name from the 15th century Italian sculptor, Luca Della Robbia (1400 - 1482) who developed a glaze that made his pottery creations more durable when used outside the house, and thus suitable for use on building exteriors.
The company produced tableware, tiles, garden ornaments, and hollow ware in distinctive shapes and designs from the Renaissance period.
Della Robbia art pottery was sold by Liberty & Co. as well as in the company's own retail outlet in Liverpool.
Most individual pieces are signed by the artist as well as showing the "DR" monogram and the medieval galleon trademark.
Due to the cost of production of its wares, the business was not viable, and the pottery closed in 1906.
An architectural ornamental feature found on furniture, usually directly beneath the upper mouldings on a cornice. The timber is cut in a series of deep rectangular sections, alternatively raised and flat, like the crenellation on a castle battlement. In appearance not unlike a row of small teeth. From the latin "dens", teeth. Most commonly seen on bookcases, chests and cabinets, and less frequently on desks and wardrobes.
John Dermer was born in Melbourne in 1949.
He studied ceramics at Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology and at Hawthorn State College, after which he spent some time working in potteries in England.
He also worked at his Kirby's Flat Pottery at Yackandandah, Victoria, for a number of years.
His first solo exhibition was held in 1971.
His work is represented in the Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australian National Gallery, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, National Gallery of Victoria, Newcastle Art Gallery, Queensland Art Gallery and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery.
Stuart Devlin was born in Geelong, Victoria, Australia and trained as an art teacher, after which he taught for 5 years and then studied gold and silversmithing, firstly in Melbourne and then at the Royal College of Art in London from 1958. He spent two years at Columbia University where he developed a career as a sculptor.
He returned to his teaching position in Melbourne in 1962 and was appointed Inspector of Art Schools.
In 1963 a competition was held to design the new Australian decimal coinage that was to be introduced in 1966. The new decimal coins were to replace the pre decimal coinage that had been in circulation since 1910. Six competitors vied for the honour of designing these new coins.
Devlin was announced the winner of the competition with designs that featured Australian native fauna on the new coins, with the 1c coin featuring the feather-tailed glider, the 2c a frilled neck dragon lizard, 5c a spiny echidna, the 10c a lyrebird, the 20c duck billed platypus and the 50c Australian Coat of Arms. The 1,c and 2c coins are no longer in circulation. A $1 coin also designed by Devlin and featuring the kangaroo, was introduced in 1984
In 1963 He became involved in the project to design Australia's decimal currency, and during this period he decided to relocate to London and establish himself as a silversmith.
He adapted his knowledge of sculpture into the designs he created for his showroom in Conduit Street in London's West End, which he occupied from 1979 to 1985. His output included limited editions which appealed to longer term collectors, such as Easter eggs and Christmas boxes.
His design skills have extended to furniture, jewellery, clocks, centrepieces, goblets, candelabra, bowls, and insignia.
Following his successful design on Australia's decimal currency, he has designed coins and medals for 36 countries.
He was Prime Warden of the Goldsmith's Company 1996-97 and in 1982 was appointed as goldsmith and jeweller to Queen Elizabeth II and in 1998 he was appointed a member of the Royal Mint Advisory Committee on the Designs of Coins, Medals, Seals and Decorations.
In 2000 he designed 25 coins for the Sydney Olympic Games including the Silver Kilo Olympic Masterpiece, the largest Olympic coin ever made, and the first to show all Olympic sports. He was also awarded an honorary doctorate from RMIT in 2000.
His work is displayed in the Victoria and Albert Museum as well as numerous Australian museums including Powerhouse Museum, Sydney, Museum Victoria and the National Gallery of Victoria.
He was awarded a Companion of the Order of St Michael and St George in the UK in 1980, and an Order of Australia in 1988.
The words dexter and sinister are commonly used in heraldry, but have a more general application in the world of antiques and collectables (mainly sculpture and numismatics) to describe the position of the head of the subject. Dexter, which is Latin for right means the subject is looking to their right, while sinister, which is Latin for left, means the subject is looking to their left.
The dial plate is the front plate of a clock or watch, and may have the numerals painted or engraved on it, as well as cut-outs for the hands, date apertures, strike/silent adjustment or automata. On some clocks a chapter ring, displaying the numerals may sit on top of the dial plate.
A diamante and a rhinestone are both imitation diamonds made from glass, rock crystal or acrylic. Originally rhinestones were rock crystals mined from the Rhine river Rhine in the 18th century, but the term is now associated with any imitation diamonds. Diamantes and a rhinestones are used in costume jewellery, in clothing and accessories, and were especially popular in the 1930s,
The Diana Pottery Pty Ltd operated at Marrickville, New South Wales from 1941 to 1966, and was the most important Australian ceramics manufacturer during this period
Establlished during World War II, the Diana Pottery produced wares to assist the war effort, including cups and mugs for Navy and munitions cantens, along with tea pots and milk jugs.
At the cessation of World War II, the pottery diversified and commercilaised its output to include a large variety of slip cast vases in many colours, shapes and sizes, book ends, animal figures, table ware, utility and kitchen ware. Over the life of the pottery, over 200 different shapes were produced.
By the early 1950s the company had more than 70 employees and were producing a large range of hand painted articles which included "Waltzing Matilda" musical mugs and jugs, and produced bright "gumnut" pots with pale green and brown glazes.
The musical mugs and jugs played when lifted, and the movements were expensive and difficult to obtain, being imported from Switzerland, so many mugs and jusg that should have had movements were sold without at reduced prices.
In the 1960s Diana diversified their range further into decorated oven and kitchen ware, hand painted with maple, poinsettia, cornflower, blackberry, wattle and flannel flower designs.
During this period Diana Pottery made a variety of slip cast vases that were glazed in bright colours, or sprayed with a cream glaze creating a speckled texture. These were marketed under the name 'Hollywood'.
Also in the 1960's, a variety of small slip cast vases hand decorated in gold were made for a gift shop in the Imperial Arcade Sydney which were marketed u under the name 'Imperial'.
There was a burgeoning of Australian pottery in the 1960s and 70s. The most important manufacturer from this period was Diana, Diana produced bright "gumnut" pots with pale green and brown glaze.
Diana Pottery marks include hand signed "Diana Australia"; an impressed "Diana" enclosed in a circle; "Diana Australia" with an imprint of the "Huntress" and stickers reading "Diana Made in Australia". Those marketed under then name "Hollywood" have a stamp and/or a paper label.
Alexander Dick (c.1791-1843) arrived in Sydney as a free-settler from Edinburgh in 1824 and employed a number of assigned convicts in his workshop.
Probably initially employed by James Robertson, Sydney's first non-convict silver retailer and also from Scotland, Dick soon established his own business at 104 Pitt Street as both a retailer and working silversmith.
Although himself sentenced in 1829 to seven years transportation to Norfolk Island for receiving stolen dessert spoons, he was later pardoned and returned to Sydney.
For the next ten years his firm, received many significant commissions and became one of the most prolific manufacturers of silver flatware and presentation pieces in the colony.
His mark appears on the first Australian-made racing trophy (the 1827 Junius Cup) and he was praised as the maker of the Sydney Subscription Cup, a now lost 84oz silver trophy ornamented with a gold horse finial and gold horse-heads for an 1834 race meeting.
Retiring in 1841 (the year the first silver mine opened in Australia), he died two years later leaving an estate of almost £9000.
A Dicken's desk is a pedestal desk, with a central sloped writing surface to the top, with small drawers and pigeon holes to each side, at the rear of the desk, a lift-up slope and a false centre drawer.
The toy is made by by pouring molten metal into a closed metal die or mould. The first metal used was a lead alloy, but the finsihed product was very soft and broke easily, and was replaced with an alloy of zinc mixed with small amounts of aluminium and copper.
In the 1950s, Dino Martens was one of the leading innovative glass artists in Murano, Italy.
He was born in Venice in 1894 and studied painting at the Academia di Belle Arti in Venice from c1918 - 1924. After completing his painting studies, he worked freelance for more than 10 years as a painter and designer of hollow glass and mosaics for a number of companies including S.A.L.I.R. and Salviati.
In the late 1930s he was appointed artistic director and head designer of Aureliano Toso glassworks in Murano. His design creativity in composition and use of colour was set free.
By 1948 he had already designed his first patchwork Zanfirici In subtle colours as well as the Oriente In strong colours. His pieces were often characterised by striking asymmetric form. He continued designing for Aureliano Toso until the early sixties.
When used in relation to antiques and collectables, a diorama is a three dimensional display, usually within a domed or rectangular glass case.
As the feathers of birds are more easily damaged than the skin of an animal, most taxidermied birds are displayed within a glazed diorama. The birds will be set in lifelike poses in a naturalistic landscape, usually standing a branch within the diorama. Animals will be displayed set in the landscape they inhabit. The foreground will be set with gravel, rocks and bushes, while the background will be painted.
While most natural history dioramas can be easily picked up and carried by one person, some larger examples were made that were suitable for display at exhibitions.
The other type of diorama commonly seen is a model ship enclosed in a rectangular glass box, the ship depicted floating on the sea.
A diptych is a drawing or painting in two parts. Traditionally the two panels were hinged together and could be closed like a book. Nowadays the word covers two panels that are displayed side-by-side and may be a continuous but divided image, or may be two separate but closely related images.
Dish rings were in use between about 1750 and 1800, and were designed to protect the table or sideboard surface from damage from a hot dish. They are usually about were mosty made in silver, and to a lesser extent Sheffield plate, of circular in shape with pierced, embossed and chased decoration to the in-curved side, the piercing also allowing the heat to escape.
They are also known as potato rings, probably in deference to their supposed Irish origins.
Manufacture of dish rings was revived in the late 19th century for several decades.
A dished top is a decorative feature usually found on a small table, where the top has a rim or edge that is raised above the flat section.
The late 17th century passion for collecting Chinese porcelain and the later European porcelain, (a passion that has not abated), led to the design of various forms of cabinets for displaying the collection. There are various forms, and collectors can find pieces in the Sheraton, Queen Anne and Rococo revival manner dating from the Edwardian and later Victorian periods. Glazed china cabinets or bookcases were frequently made in the Art Nouveau and Art Deco style. The half-round lead lighted china cabinets popular in the 1920s and 1930s, are not all as common as they used to be. Collectors should be careful of 'china cabinets' that have made up by a conversion from a bookcase, armoire or wardrobe.
Usually applied to describe the condition of an item of furniture, and means that the object is extremely worn and is verging on being unsuitable for its intended use, without some restoration or repairs being undertaken.
Furniture can also be artificially distressed, by deliberate infliction of superficial damage to make it appear old. Artificial distressing can be done with the object of decieving a purchaser, where the object is being passed off as "of the period", or can be done for aesthetic reasons so that a new object is made to appear as though it has been in use.
Donovan and Overland opened as manufacturing and wholesale jewellers in Perth in 1897. They supplied many of the retail jewellers on the goldfields and in Perth.
Many of their goldfields brooches carry the name of a Western Australian gold mining town, town, presumably where the brooch was retailed to the miners by a local jeweller. For example, Donnybrook, is a small town in Western Australia, about two hours south of Perth.
It was first settled about 1842 but it was not until 1897 that gold was discovered about 6 kilometres south of the town, resulting in a small gold rush to the town about two years later. However the exitement was short-lived and the most of the miners had left the area after about 3 years.
Donovan and Overland, occupied a number of locations in Perth, but closed in 1921.
A doublet and a triplet are both composite imitation stones, consisting of two or three joined layers. A triplet is made with the crown and base of genuine material, but with a centre layer, usually of glass, the object being to make the stone appear larger than it really is. A doublet consists of only two layers.
Opal doublets are quite common and consist of a thin layer of opal cemented to an opal matrix or black glass.
Sometimes referred to as a kneading trough. It is a rectangular, trough-like wooden bin, with inwardly sloping sides, made to stand on a trestle base. The interior is usually partitioned, one side holding dry flour, the other for kneading the bread dough. The bin has a solid wooden lid, used as an ironing board or side table in farmhouse kitchens. Australian examples, both in cedar and pine, have survived, dating to early colonial times, but rarely come onto the market.
Neil Douglas was born in New Zealand in 1911. He studied painting at the National Gallery School, Melbourne, but devoted most of his time to pottery until 1964 when he held his first one- man exhibition of paintings at the Toorak Gallery in Melbourne. ln latter years Neil Douglas has been a champion of causes, especially the protection of the natural environment.
At regular intervals in one board, wedge-shaped projections are cut, which fit and are glued into matching recesses cut in the corresponding board opposite, thus forming a 'dovetail' appearance. One of the strongest joints devised for furniture. Found in most drawers and the joints fixing the tops, bottoms and rails at right angles to the side pieces of most cabinets. Before the invention of the dovetail joint, furniture had been held together by metal or wooden dowels or pegs.
Viola Edith (Brownie) Downing, author, artist, illustrator and ceramics decorator was born at Manly, Sydney in 1924, and grew up in a home surrounded by bushland, which inspired her to take an interest in drawing from a young age.
She drew children, small animals flowers and trees from her surrounds, and developed an interest in Aboriginal culture from her father.
After leaving school she studied at Sydney Technical Art School and then worked as a commercial artist, drawing children's fashion in the early 1940s.
After World War II she studied at Julian Ashton's art school and became a full time artist selling both originals and prints throughout Australia. Her work extended to designs for Christmas cards, and pottery decoration. One of her enduring legacies is the compelling naïve charm of the Aboriginal characters decorating ceramic items ranging from porcelain dishes and wall plaques to miniature tea sets.
In the 1960s she turned her hand to writing for children, and her first book "Tinka and His Friends", sold 60,000 copies and won The Daily Telegraph Children's Book of the Year Award. She travelled to England to promote the book, and there met and married her second husband, John Mansfield resulting in a new direction in her life.
Mansfield became her co-author and together they travelled the world for many years living in France, Spain, Ireland, Jamaica, the United States, Mexico and Ireland, and afterwards cruising the Mediterranean for twelve years, finally settling on the island of Majorca before moving to Andorra.
She never returned to Australia and died in Andorra in 1995 at the age of 71.
A form of extension table, introduced during Elizabethan times and revived in the early 20th century. The leaf at each end of the rectangular table is attached to lopers or bearers. To extend the table, the leaves slide from underneath the central top section, which drops down to provide a flat, uniform surface.
The French version of the draw leaf table, manufactured between 1930 and 1950, is very popular, due to the good value if offers the purchaser. These tables often have a parquetry inlaid top.
A Victorian and Edwardian term for a suite comprising a gentleman's chair, lady's chair, a settee and four or six upright chairs. The Edwardian version is also known as a Parlour Suite.
An essential feature of every well equipped kitchen, the name derives from the board or table on which meat was 'dressed' or food prepared.
Over time, the design of the dresser has changed, even though the nomenclature is unchanged.
Dressers were particularly popular in Wales, northwest and southwest England, each type having strong regional characteristics.
First introduced in the 18th century, the dresser consisted of a base containing shelves, drawers and cupboards, and an open upper section, with stepped shelves known as the 'rack', for storing plates and other crockery.
Some dressers, particularly from Wales and northern England had panelled backs, while others have open backs so the wall behind the back of the upper section of the dresser is visible.
Alternatively the rack was sometimes attached directly to the kitchen wall rather than remain free standing upon the base, which explains why so many of them have since been lost.
The base could take many forms. It may be in the shape of a table with drawers beneath the top, sometimes with a 'pot board' beneath, sometimes with a cupboard, three or four side drawers for linen and cutlery, and sometimes with a hutched 'dog kennel' to display cooking pots. Some dressers have a series of small drawers, known as 'spice drawers', beneath the rack shelves.
Dressers in a wide variation of designs continued to be made in the 19th and 20th century, but bear little resemblance to the earlier examples.
The main difference is that the upper section is enclosed with glass doors, and the base would have a row of drawers, with cupboards below, fully utilizing the storage space. Leadlight doors were a feature of dressers made in the early 20th century.
A series of dressers made during the late 19th and early 20th centuries contained an astonishing variety of built-in devices including flour bins, sifters, bread boards and beaters.
In America, the dresser is often called a 'hutch'.
A table or cabinet fitted with mirrors, small drawers and compartments, used especially by ladies at their toilette. There have been many variations over the past two centuries. The great 18th century designers delighted in contriving elegant tables, ingeniously fitted with all kinds of sliding and hidden mirrors, drawers and cosmetic boxes. Some versions had small bookshelves and drawers in the superstructure, while others were plainer, square tables, with fold over lids which, when opened, revealed the mirrors and compartments.
Victorian dressing tables followed the prevailing fashions of the various revival styles, although the form became established as a table supported by scroll, turned or cabriole legs, with an oval or square mirror and a series of small drawers known as a Duchess dressing table. Another version consisted of two pedestals, fitted with drawers on either side of a cheval mirror.
Edwardian dressing tables were usually plainer, with typical turned legs, squarer lines and sometimes containing wing mirrors. These Edwardian pieces usually contain sections of machine-made carving, based on the acanthus leaf, sometimes in conjunction with various Neoclassical devices such as the broken pediment, shallow reeding and so on.
The revival of the Queen Anne style in the 20th century saw many dressing tables in ash or maple made with cabriole legs and plate glass mirrors. They are usually stained a revolting scarlet described by the manufacturers as 'mahogany'.
Many collectable items from the late Victorian and Edwardian periods are associated with the dressing-table. Jars in glass or porcelain, often highly decorative, were produced at this time for face powder, with silver mounts decorated in Art Nouveau styles. Glass trays in matching sets accommodated hairpins (themselves widely differing in decorative treatment), trinkets and rings. Matching sets of brushes and hand mirrors may be found with silver, electroplate or enamelled backs in contemporary motifs. A wide variety of perfume bottles were made, including by such luminaries as Lalique, Daum and Galle.
In furniture of the late 17th and early 18th centuries, small metal drop handles were often used, frequently in a pear or tear shape. The back plate, to which the drop was attached, may be either a simple plain circle, or in the form of a star or diamond. These handles have been widely reproduced, and are frequently found on Jacobean and Queen Anne style furniture made after the first world war. Reproduction handles can usually be identified by the inferior quality of the metal used during the 1920s and 1930s, sometimes thinly coated with brass or copper, though modern copies are often of excellent quality.
Mostly used on Regency upright chairs, a drop in (or "drop on") seat is an unsprung removable seat where the upholstery is attached to a wooden frame, which is held in place by the sides of the chair, and usually a wooden peg at the front of the chair. An inset upholstered seat is of the same construction, but it sits within a frame whose perimeter includes four sides of the chair.
Because the upholstery frame was not very deep, the seats were relatively uncomfortable. In the mid 19th century coiled upholstery springs came into use and frame of the chair was used as the upholstery frame, making for a much more comfortable and responsive seat.
This type of seat was known as an over-upholstered or over-stuffed seat.
A small table with hinged flaps on either side which, when raised, increase the size of the table surface. The flaps may be supported by fly rails or a gateleg. The following are all variations of the dropside table: gateleg table, Pembroke table, sofa table, Sutherland table.
A Victorian dressing table, usually in the Rococo revival style. It generally has heavy cabriole or scroll legs standing on a platform base, although turned and reeded legs are not uncommon. The table. top may be rectangular or serpentine in shape. The superstructure consists of an oval or rounded mirror supported by carved brackets, beneath which are two or three small drawers for gloves, pins, jewellery and so on. Normally made from walnut, mahogany or cedar. A duchess chest is a term frequently, though some-what misleadingly, applied in the Australian antique market to a combination chest. It consists of a chest of drawers surmounted by a swing mirror flanked by several small drawers for gloves or studs. Mainly found in Edwardian furniture, both in pine and cedar.
There are two distinct furniture forms known as a dumb waiter. The Georgian version consisted of three revolving circular trays attached to a central pedestal column, usually on a tripod base. It was used for holding plates and tea cups in the drawing-room. Generally made from mahogany, some varieties were contrived so that the trays were collapsible.
In the later 19th century the term was applied to a two or three tiered form, with turned legs and supports, used for dishes and crockery in the dining room.
Of intrigue, is the nineteenth century metamorphic 'rise-and-fall' dumb waiter, in which the three tiers converge and convert the item to a side table by means of telescopic arms and counterbalanced weights.
Many Australian examples survive in cedar, blackwood and pine. Its descendant is the small tray mobile beloved of tea ladies and hostesses.
A drawer with facia decorations only, which is not operative.
Alfred Dunhill Ltd was founded in London in 1893 as a motoring accessories business.
In the 1900s, the company expanded into luxury tobacco goods. As cigarette smoking took off in the 1920s and ’30s, Dunhill became one of the most famous names in the field, opening shops in Paris, New York and Toronto and expanding into menswear, toiletries and other areas, but it is with smoking accessories that the firm is most notably associated.
Dunhill was particularly known for lighters, most famously the Unique lighter, launched in the early 1920s with the slogan ‘The lighter that changed public opinion’. Coming in various designs, the Unique could be operated with one hand; its design lessened the risk of petrol evaporation and it rarely needed filling. Dunhill also developed the first butane gas powered lighter.
Dunhill began manufacturing cigarettes in 1963. In 1967, Carreras Tobacco Company acquired a 51% interest in the company, and the company is currently owned by Compagnie Financière Richemont SA, a Swiss based luxury goods manufacturer whose brands include Baume & Mercier (watches) Cartier (jewellery and watches) IWC (watches), Montblanc (pens), Piaget (watches and jewellery)
Alfred Dunhill have retail emporiums for men in the major cities of London, Shanghai and Tokyo, and Hong Kong, referred to as the 'Homes of Alfred Dunhill'. As well being a retail outlet for Dunhill goods, these 'Homes' offer a range of services including a bespoke tailoring service, barber’s shop, fine wine cellars, bar or restaurant, screening room, and spa.
Dunhill's current product range includes men's luxury leather goods, writing implements, lighters, timepieces, fragrances and clothing.