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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.
Johannes Daniel Kestner founded his business about 1816 and advertisements for his papier mache dolls with leather bodies date to 1823.
He is credited as being the founder of the doll manufacturing trade in the town of Waltershausen, which expanded to become the doll manufacturing centre for all of Europe, with numerous manufacturers based there.
Unlike many of the manufacturers, Kestner was able to produce both heads and bodies. Other manufacturers brought their heads in, as they did not have the plant, such as a porcelain manufactury, to be able to make them in-house.
In the 1850s Kestner was making china-head and wax-over-papier mache dolls but these were unmarked.
Kestner died a wealthy man in 1858 and his two wives carried on the business, purchasing a porcelain factory that produced parian heads and later, bisque heads.
In 1872 Kestner's grandson Adolph took over the business until he died in 1918.
The company continued operating through World War I and into the Great Depression. However the decline in demand, especially from the United States resulted in the company going into bankruptcy in 1936.
A jabot pin, also known as a surete pin is a fastening device consisting of a pin with a decorative ornament to each end. One end detaches allowing the pin to be passed through the fabric and then the end can be clicked or screwed back into place.
These pins were originally used to decorate or fasten a jabot, which was a piece of fabric worn around the neck, with frills and ruffles dangling over the chest.
However when the jabot was no longer fashionable, the pints were worn as jewellery in their own right, for example on hats.
Jacobean is the name applied to the style of furniture and decorative arts in vogue from about 1600 to 1630 which includes the reign of James I (1603-1625). The most common timber used is oak, and it is ornamented with turning and elaborate carving. Characteristic of decoration of furniture in this style are bun feet, mortice and tenon joints (replacing dowell joints) and 'X' frame chairs.
The style was revived in the 19th furniture (Jacobean Revival or "Jacobean style") as represented by most of the furniture coming onto the market in Australia, described as "Jacobean".
Wine glasses engraved with mottos and symbols of the Jacobites, who were supporters of Prince Charles Edward Stuart's claim to the English throne.
They were passed around amongst the members of secret groups devoted to the restoration of a Catholic monarch in Scotland and England under the House of Stuart.
The last Jacobite Rebellion ended with Charles Edward Stuart’s defeat at the Battle of Culloden in 1746. His image features on some of the Jacobite glassware.
Genuine examples of Jacobite glassware are dated between 1746 and 1788 but many later copies and forgeries are in circulation.
In November 2012 a Jacobite "Amen" glass, the rarest group of Jacobite glasses sold for £43,000 at auction in Shropshire, England.
The Danish architect Arne Jacobsen (1902-71) was born in Copenhagen. As a child he showed an extraordinary talent for drawing and depicting nature. He was educated at the Royal Danish Academy of Fine Arts and the School of Architecture in Copenhagen.
Jacobsen's designs included architecture, furniture, textiles, wallpaper and silverware. He mastered the range of design from large, complex building projects to a teaspoon in a set of cutlery.
His most famous designs became ‘The Ant’, ‘Series 7’, ‘The Egg and The Swan’, and the tableware ‘Cylinda-Line’.
Jacobsen’s architecture includes a considerable number of epoch-making buildings in Denmark, Germany and Great Britain.
‘The Ant’ chair, designed in 1952 for use in the canteen of the Danish pharmaceutical firm Novo Nordisk, became the starting point of his world fame as a furniture designer and became the first of a number of lightweight chairs with the seat and back in one piece of moulded wood.
Model ‘3107’ from 1955 is often merely called ‘The Number Seven Chair’. It was launched in beech, black and white. ‘3107’ is one of the most important success stories in Danish furniture history, and over 5 million originals have been manufactured, as well as countless copies.
'The Egg' is a chair designed by Arne Jacobsen in 1958 for the lobby and reception area of the Radisson SAS hotel in Copenhagen, Denmark, which he also designed.
His simple, elegant and functional designs have a remarkable, timeless appeal and have become international design classics.
Grete Juel Jalk (1920–2006) was a Danish furniture designer. From the 1960s, she did much to enhance Denmark’s reputation for modern furniture design with her clear, comfortable lines. She also edited the Danish magazine Mobilia and compiled a four-volume work on Danish furniture. In 1953, Jalk opened her own design studio. Inspired by Alvar Aalto’s laminated bent-plywood furniture and Charles Eames’ moulded plywood designs, she began to develop her own boldly curved models. Jalk developed many simple sets of furniture for manufacturers, including a high desk and stool, a set of shelves in Oregon pine and a series of chairs with upholstered seats and backs on a curved steel base. Her industrially produced furniture has clear, comfortable lines. Economic in their use of materials, they soon became competitive, increasing Denmark’s international reputation for furniture design. Firms in the United States and Finland have also manufactured some of her lines.
James II (1633 - 1701) was king of England and Ireland, and as James VII, King of Scotland from 1685 until the "Glorius Revolution" in 1688.
Japanning is the early eighteenth century technique used by European craftsmen to imitate the oriental style lacquer work that became popular in England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain in the 17th century.
The lacquer used was based on the lac beetle dissolved in alcohol (as used in French polish) and differed from the Chinese lacquer which was based on tree sap.
Each layer of the lacquer was allowed to dry and then sanded down. It was applied over cream, yellow, green, red, or black grounds. Japanning using gold leaf was also widely used with lacquer work. The technique can be found on bureaux, cabinets, chests, longcase clocks, and chairs.
In 1853, Japan ended the long period of self-imposed isolation from the rest of the world and trade with Europe and America gradually developed. Impetus was given by the Meiji Revolution of 1867-8 which began the ruthless Westernization of Japan. As the Japanese enthusiastically embraced all things western, there was a corresponding appreciation of traditional Japanese art forms in the west. This led to traditional Japanese designs being incorporated into furniture, ceramics, and silverware in the third quarter of the 19th century.
Examples of the Japanese influence are Japanese motifs, faux bamboo, fretwork and lacquer work.
A eucalypt, known by its aboriginal name jarrah, it grows only in the south-west of Western Australia. The timber is a dark red-brown in colour with similar grain and colouring to mahogany and was used extensively in house construction as well as for making furniture.
In past times, both savoury and sweet jellies were popular, and to improve the presentation of the jellies, ceramic jelly moulds were made from about 1750.
The first jelly moulds were made from salt-glazed stoneware and were often in geometric shapes intended for a single serve. From about 1830, metal jelly moulds also came into use. Copper moulds were tinned on the interior to prevent poisoning.
Glass jelly moulds became popular from the 1930s onwards. Nowadays most jelly moulds are plastic or aluminium.
The company of Jennens & Bettridge, in operation from around 1815 to 1864 were the pre-eminent manufacturers of papier mache wares, such as writing boxes, trays, fans and furniture such as chairs and small tables. Their wares usually featured painted decoration and was sometimes inlaid with mother of pearl, a process which the company invented and patented. They were based in Birmingham, but opened a branches in London and Paris.
Jennens & Bettridge were appointed Papier Mache Manufacturers to King George IV, William IV, and Prince Albert, and exhibited a variety of wares at the Great Exhibition in 1851.
Most papier mache objects are unmarked, but those of Jennens & Bettridge are usually stamped with the company name inpressed to the underside.
Jet is a dense black fossilised wood, almost like coal, and very light in weight. It is easy to cut, so carved well.
It became popular in the Victorian era for mourning jewellery, which became fashionable after the death of Queen Victoria's husband Prince Albert in 1861.
The latter part of the Victorian era was characterised by the sentimentality associated with mourning. Black has been the colour for mourning in the Western world since at least the Roman Empire, and as well as jewellery, the period saw the colour used in furniture, clothing and stationery as a mark of respect to the deceased.
Jet was in abundant supply around Whitby in Yorkshire and so jet became the obvious material for this type of jewellery. Some jet was also imported from Spain at the height of its popularity in order to meet demand.
As well as factories producing jet items, carving of the material became a cottage industry, with the fruits of labour displayed in the front window of houses in and around Whitby.
Jet may show marks of the carver's tools unlike Vulcanite, a similar coloured material which was moulded into shape.
Imitations of jet were also made in glass, black onyx and black Bakelite.
Jet can become dull, or the surface can display a bloom, over the passage of time, and objects that retain their original shiny appearance will command a premium. Other factors contributing to value are the quality of the carving or engraving.
The technique was first used at the Sevres factory around 1780, whereby drops of coloured translucent enamel were fused over gold or silver foil to simulate precious stones inset into the surface of the object.
The technique was later adopted in the mid 19th century by English potteries including Worcester, Minton and Coalport.
Jichi wood is also known as chicken wing wood. It can be coarse and purplish-black in colour and prone to splitting (new jichi wood), or close grained and purplish-brown in colour (old jichi wood). and the grain can resemble feathers near the neck and wing of a chicken.
After the middle of Qing dynasty (1644 - 1912) few pieces were made from old jichi wood while the new jichi wood is still being used today.
In many respects the history of Wendt's is a potted history of Australian gold and silver smithing. State directories of the late 1800s show that they sold watches, jewellery, rings, trophies, church plate, optical goods and electroplate. They also repaired watches and jewellery.
Joachim Matthias Wendt arrived in Port Adelaide in 1854, just 18 years after the foundation of South Australia. He was born in 1830 in Denmark. His mother died when he was nine years of age, leaving his father to look after him and two sisters. Joachim became a watchmaker's apprentice.
He brought these skills to South Australia, quickly opening a small watchmaking and jewellery shop in Pirie Street, Adelaide. Business was good and so he soon moved to better premises in Rundle Street.
Wendt's soon became recognised as a top quality shop. The jewellery, silverware, watches and clocks were equal to the best which were imported. In 1864 and 1865 Joachim received first prizes at a Scottish exhibition. In 1871, Wendt's was selected to make silverware caskets featuring Australian motifs for the Duke of Edinburgh, who was visiting Adelaide and other towns.
So pleased was the Duke of Edinburgh with Wendt's craftsmanship that he purchased additional items and appointed J. M. Wendt 'Jeweller to His Royal Highness in this Colony', By this time, twelve silversmiths, watchmakers, jewellers and shop assistants were being employed. What could not be made locally was imported.
Wendt's reputation for quality was further confirmed by the award of two first prizes for silverware at the 1878 Paris Exhibition. Success followed success, leading to a broadening of interests, including an involvement in the building of the Theatre Royal, the Adelaide Arcade and the Freemason's Hall.
J. M. Wendt had married a widow, Johiamic Koeppen, in 1872. Her son Herman entered her husband's jewellery business and added Wendt to his name, becoming Herman Koeppen (H. K. J Wendt. He and his brother, Jule, in 1903 were made partners of the business, Jule was sent abroad to be the overseas buyer.
Joachim Wendt died in 1917 aged 87. Nonetheless, the business continued to flourish under H. K. Wendt's management. His eldest son, Alan, joined the business in 1919, becoming a partner. On his father's death in 1938, Alan became sole proprietor. In 1947, Alan's son Peter Koeppen Wendt, joined his father and they became the first directors of the newly formed private company.
The final managing director of J. M. Wendt's was Timothy Wendt. Five generations of the family held executive positions in the business until its closure at the end of the 20th-century.
A highlight in Wendt's long and successful history was to be commissioned by the South Australian Government to manufacture a necklace and ear-rings for Queen Elizabeth II, and cuff links for the Duke of Edinburgh, for their visit in 1954. The jewellery had to incorporate opals, the most magnificent of which was the 203 carat 'Andamooka' white opal owned by the Government. Palladium was chosen as the metal and the large opal was flanked by 180 diamonds. The necklace and earrings are illustrated.
A trade journal described the gift as follows: 'The opal and diamond necklet and ear-rings suite is mounted in jewellery palladium with the large opal as the centre of the necklet. This is flanked by elegant side pieces, hand-carved in an attractive scroll design handset with diamonds. The chain at the back is of diamonds, each set in a diamond-shaped setting alternating with links pierced in the matching scroll designs and finished with a diamond set snap.'
As Wendt's centenary year official history closed 'In this way Wendt's first hundred years were fittingly symbolised'. Alas, Wendt's has now closed
From: Carter's "Collecting Australiana", William & Dorothy Hall, published by John Furphy Pty. Ltd. 2005
John Rattenbury Skeaping (1901-1908) was born in Essex into an artistic family - his father was a painter and illustrator and his mother was a musician.
He studied at Goldsmith's College, the Central School of Arts & Crafts and the Royal Academy in 1919-20. In 1924 he was awarded the Prix de Rome, a scholarship allowing young artists and the same year married the sculptor Barbara Hepworth. (The marriage was dissolved in 1933.)
John Skeaping's first exhibition at the Royal Academy was in 1922 and in 1926 he produced the first of many sculptures for Wedgwood. In total around 10 figures were produced up to the 1940s in cream, basalt, grey and moonstone colours, the most notable of which, from the Australian perspective, was the kangaroo.
In World War II he served in the intelligence services and with the SAS and in 1953 became Professor of Sculpture at the Royal College of Art.
His work with Wedgwood was only a small portion of his extensive career.
A broad term used to describe small wooden stools dating from the 16th to the 18th centuries, with turned legs and stretchers and constructed with a pegged mortice and tenon joint, and made by a joinder rather than a cabinetmaker.
Ju wood, also known as southern elm, is a large-grained wood of which most provincial furniture is made. Its appeal is greatly enhanced by cleaning and waxing.
Historical objects, especially in silver, and literature relating to the Jewish faith.
The German and Austrian version of the Art Nouveau style and the other related styles that were expanding everywhere in Europe in the early 20th century.
The name was derived from the title of the Munich cultural magazine, "Die Jugend", with the addition of "Stil", which translates as "youth style".
Jugendstil encompasses all forms of architecture and art: industrial facilities, elevated-train systems, villas, churches, as well as the interior design of bars and coffee houses
In Austria, Jugendstil developed also in various ways, mainly under the effect of the Viennese Secession and of the Wiener Werkstätte.
Jules Moigniez (1835-1894) was born in Senlis France. He specialized in game bird and animal sculpture and had considerable fame. All of his bronzes were cast by his father who started a foundry in 1857 for this sole purpose.
The Jumeau firm was founded in the 1840s, and initially made papier mache dolls. From about 1860 they also made glazed porcelain dolls and later unglazed bisque headed dolls with composition bodies, for which the company is best known. The papier mache and porcelain dolls were unmarked, making it difficult to associate them with Jumeau.
The two types of dolls associated with Jumeau, poupees (fashion ladies) and bebes (child dolls).
Poupees were the most popular type of doll manufactured from the late 1850s through to the 1870s. They had adult bodies, and were dressed in realistic clothing, including shoes, hats and accessories, that mirrored the fashions of the time.
In the late 1870s Jumeau commenced manufacturing the bebe (child) dolls, which had bisque heads, paperweight glass eyes, exaggerated eyebrows. Most had closed mouths until the 1890s.
In the 1890s competition from cheaper German imports threatened the French doll producers and in order to save their businesses, Jumeau and some of the other French manufacturers merged to form SFBJ (the Société Française de Fabrication de Bébés et Jouets.)