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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.
Lacquer work originated in the Far East, principally China and Japan, and was most widely used in that part of the world. It consists of several layers of the resin from the "Chinese lacquer tree", Rhus vernicifera, which gows in China and Japan. Once the resin has been processed and air dried, it forms a hard smooth and almost impermeable surface. Once applied by a brush to a wood or composition base in very thin layers, the surface is then decorated and inlaid with different materials.
Chinese lacquer was first imported into Europe around 1600 and became popular in England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain. Its popularity was such, that it was imitated by the Europeans, who used a technique known as "Japanning". The "oriental" scenes onsome European lacquer work is naïve, and the quality is not as high as on the original.
The words "lacquered finish" may also refer to a finish comprising polymers dissolved in compounds such as nitrocellulose applied to a modern product, usually by spraying, The modern chemical based lacquers are much more durable than those of past years.
Used to describe a style of English country chairs, usually made of oak, sycamore or maple, in which the back has a series of horizontal bars between the two vertical uprights, resembling a ladder. They usually have a caned or rush seat.
The style dates back to the Middle Ages, and was also adopted in America.
Rene Lalique introduced car mascots, marketed as Bouchons De Radiateur (radiator caps) to his product range about 1925, but production lasted for only 6 years, with demand choked by the Great Depression of the 1930s.
Followers of Lalique agree that there were about 30 different patterns produced, plus another 1 or 2 that were not marketed as car mascots, but could have served that purpose.
The rarest Lalique mascot is Renard (the fox) and in 2011 an example sold in Pennsylvania for in excess of $US200,000, which in turn was trumped the following year by the sale of a Renard in Carmel, California for $US338,500.
A full set of 30 Lalique car mascots was sold in March 2010 for $US805,000 (including buyers premium) at a classic car auction in Florida.
Lalique car mascots appeal to both glass collectors as well as classic car collectors, the latter being seen as a rich mans hobby, where participants must be well resourced to be able to afford anything of note, and this is one of the factors that can account for the high prices.
Lalique car mascots that have come onto the Australian auction market in recent years have sold in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.
James Lamb (1816-1903), founded a cabinet-making workshop in Manchester which flourished during the boom years of the Industrial Revolution. The firm was renowned for their richly upholstered, finely carved Victorian furniture including dining chairs, settees and cabinets.
They exhibited at the 1862 London Universal Exhibition, and in Paris in 1867 and 1878, winning several awards.
Principally associated with the Aesthetic Movement, Lamb worked in association with several key designers of the period including Alfred Waterhouse, Bruce Talbert and Charles Bevan.
The lantern clock is so named because of the resemblance of the outlines of the clock to a lantern, emphasised by rectangular shaped case with pillars to each side, capped by the domed bell that sits on and covers most of the top of the clock, which is surmounted by a finial.
The lantern clock was developed in England after 1600 and similar versions were developed in other countries, during the 17th century.
They were the first type of clock to be made from brass, (earlier clocks were made from wood and iron) and the first to be widely used in private homes. They were weight driven, and designed to be wall mounted, although often having finials on the bottom of each of the four corners which give the impression of feet.
They were spring driven and only accurate to within about 15 minutes per day. With the invention of the pendulum in 1656, which increased accuracy, the works on many lantern clocks were converted by the addition of a pendulum.
Unmodified original lantern clocks are very rare. The original lantern clocks had only one hand, so a lantern clock with two hands is either a conversion, or a later copy, as are most lantern clocks available on the market.
Lapis lazuli is a semi-precious deep blue coloured stone, sometimes with gold inclusions, that has been used for thousands of years for jewellery, decorative items and decoration.
It is mined in Afghanistan, Siberia, Chile, USA and Burma. The mines in north-eastern Afghanistan are the largest source of lapis lazuli, and have been operating for over 6,000 years.
They were the source of the stone for the ancient Egyptian, Greek and Roman civilsations.
A technique used in Venice and Murano from the 16th century to the present time, where a clear glass vessel such as a vase is decorated with fine embedded threads of usually white glass, creating hatched pattern, parallel wavy lines or spirals.
The most common object seen is the latticino handkerchief vase, so called because the top of the vase resembles the turned up corners of a handkerchief.
Since ancient times, the laurel leaf has been a symbol of victory and achievement. In the ancient world a laurel wreath was presented to victorious commanders and conquerors, athletic heroes and poets.
The laurel leaf is popular as a decorative theme in festoons and garlands on furniture and other and other items, because of its simple and distinctive shape.
A French trained artist who was born in Paris in 1931, Lea Stein began making her whimsical pieces of jewellery in 1969 when her husband, Fernand Steinberger, came up with a process of laminating layers of rhodoid (cellulose acetate sheets) with interesting textures and colours.
The layers were baked overnight with a secret component of his creation and then cut into shapes for various designs of pins, bracelets, earrings and shaped decorative objects. Viewed from the side, as many as 20 layers of cellulose can be seen in some models, bonded together to make these pieces.
The most easily recognizable Lea Stein pin is the 3-D fox, which has been produced in a myriad of colours and designs. Often, lace or metal layers were incorporated into the celluloid, which produced an astounding number of unique textures. The 3-D fox's tail is looped from one piece of celluloid.
Many different styles of cats, dogs, bugs, bunnies, birds, ducks and other creatures were introduced, as well as Deco-styled women, mod-styled children, flowers, cars, hats, purses, gold-encased and rhinestone encrusted designs and lots of little "things" such as stars, hearts, rainbows... even pins resembling John Travolta and Elvis Presley.
These 'vintage' pieces of jewellery were made from 1969 until 1981 and are identified by a v-shaped pin-back which is heat mounted to the back of each piece, as are the pin-backs on her newer pieces. The v-shaped pin back is always marked 'Lea Stein Paris.' The smallest pieces have tiny straight pin-backs which say 'Lea Stein.' Some of the thinner pieces have the clasp glued or heat-mounted on a small plastic disk, but all of them are marked in the same way.
Bernard Leach (1887 - 1979) was born in Hong Kong, and later attended the Slade School in London where he studied etching. He visited Japan in 1909 and taught etching but a few years later became interested in Raku style pottery. It was not until 1919 he met potter Hamada Shoji, and the following year they moved back to England, settling in St lves in Cornwall where they set up the Leach Pottery.
They produced pottery with a combination of Eastern and Western styles. Their influence spread and many studio artists took apprenticeship under them, including Michael Cardew, William Marshall, and Leach's sons, David and Michael.
After the death of Bernard Leach in 1979, the business was continued by his wife Janet who operated it until her death in 1999. It was then purchased by a St Ives hotel owner and it is still operating as a pottery and museum.
The first clear glass, called cristallo was invented during the 15th century in Venice. Prior to this the glass had a slight yellow or greenish colour as a result of iron ore impurities with the glass. 'Cristallo' was heavily exported .
In 1675, while attempting to counter the Venetian dominance of the glass market, British glassmaker George Ravenscroft invented lead glass, by adding lead oxide to to replace the calcium content in glass.
The new glass he created was quicker to melt, and stayed moulten longer, making it easier to work. More importantly, it had a higher refractive index, adding to its brilliance and beauty, especially when embellished with wheel cut decoration.
Lead crystal, is variety of lead glass, with a higher percentage of lead oxide than lead glass.
Ravenscroft's patent on lead crystal expired in 1681, and more glass makers were able to take advantage of his invention. The expansion in production resulted in England to overtaking Venice as the centre of the glass industry in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Lead is a soft, heavy, with a low melting point, making it suitable for detailed moulding. Because of its durability and resistance to corrosion it is suitable for outdoor applications, which has led to its extensive use in garden statues and objects since Roman times.
It develops a silver-grey to lead-grey patina over time.
For garden statuary and objects, it is also a less expensive material to use, than bronze or stone.
However its softness is also a disadvantage as garden statuary made from lead is easily damaged, especially if moulded as a hollow, as for example, in a human or animal form.
The use of stained glass, held together with leaded strips, sometimes found in cabinet furniture. While stained glass is not uncommon in Victorian houses, it is unusual to find it in furniture before the end of the 19th century. It was favoured by cabinetmakers for sideboards and smaller pieces such as dinner trolleys, in the style of the Art Nouveau, and is often found in kitchen cabinets and display cabinets dating from the 1930s and 1940s.
Alexander Leckie was born 1932 in Glascow, Scotland.
He studied ceramics at the Glascow School of Art.
He moved to Australia in 1955 and took a position in a ceramics factory in Adelaide.
He was lecturer in ceramics and sculpture at the South Australian School of Art in Adelaide from 1956 to 1962.
In 1966 he returned to London and studied at the London Central School of Arts and Crafts for five months. In the same year he was appointed Senior Lecturer in charge of ceramics at Glascow School of Art.
In 1966 and 1968 he visited Mexico and New York and visited Australia again in 1976.
From 1978 he was Artist-in-Residence at Melbourne State College. In 1982 he again ran a workshop at Melbourne College of Advanced Education, and in the same year retired from Glascow School of Art.
His first solo exhibition was in Melbourne in 1979 and he has also at the Glasgow Municipal Gallery.
His work can be found in the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, and the Newcastle Region Art Gallery.
Jules Leleu (1883 - 1961) took over from his father in the family's decorative painting business at Boulogne-sur-Mer, France about 1910, and then after World War I diversified into furniture design and manufacture.
By 1924 he was ready to move to Paris where he opened Maison Leleu, and by the 1930s, working with his family members, offered a full range of furnishing services, including interior decoration, furniture and cabinet making, textiles, rugs and lighting fixtures.
He designed luxurious suites for embassies, hotels and ocean liners, such as the SS Ile de France and SS Normandie.
His two sons and daughters continued the family business after the death of their father in 1961.
Lenci was founded in 1919 in Turin, Italy by Enrico Scavini, a business agent and his wife, Elena König.
The name ‘Lenci’ was an acronym for Ludus est nobis constanter industria [Play is our constant work].
The couple's first daughter had unexpectedly suddenly died during a Spanish influenza epidemic, and as reaction to the loss, Elena König had started to create rag dolls, imagining that they could be toys for her lost child.
Distributed firstly only among the friends of the family, Elena König’s rag dolls soon achieved popularity with the wider public who appreciated them for their simplicity and creative and meticulous workmanship.
Their success was assisted by participation and awards from a number of prestigious trade fairs, including the International Exhibition of Decorative Arts held in Monza in 1923, the Exposition Internationale des Arts Decoratifs et Industriels Modernes in Paris in 1925 and the International Exhibition in Turin in 1928.
As the business grew, production encompassed wooden toys, cloth dolls, and furnishings for children's rooms and accessories for women.
In 1928 the company diversified into ceramics, producing figurines, wall
plaques and decorative items hiring a number of well-regarded artists and modellers.
By 1930 staff numbers had increased to 600, and the company had further diversified into production of ceramics to offset the decline of sales of dolls due to increased competition.
In 1937 the company was sold to Pilade Garella, and the Garella family ensured Lenci’s survival for the next 60 years, until 1997, when ownership passed to Bambole Italiane srl. Lenci continued to trade until 2002, when the
company declared bankruptcy and the business was closed.
Col Levy was born in Sydney in 1933.
He studied industrial arts at Sydney Teachers College and ceramics at East Sydney Technical College.
In 1957 he spent a year workshop training with Ivan McMeekin at Sturt Pottery, Mittagong, NSW.
In 1964 he established a pottery workshop at Mt Bowen near Windsor, NSW, and worked there while lecturing at East Sydney Technical College part-time. In 1974 he was a member of the Education and Training Committee of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council and in that year studied in Japan under Yu Fujuwara at Bizen for six weeks.
He became a full-time potter in 1978 and from 1979-80 was a member of the Crafts Board of the Australia Council.
He is represented in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, National Gallery of Victoria, and Newcastle City Art Gallery, NSW
The world renowned department store Liberty, was originally founded in 1875 as a furniture and drapery shop in Regent Street, London and was known as "East India House".
The business was established by Arthur Lazenby Liberty, (1843-1917). As the original name of the shop suggests, there was a strong emphasis on Oriental & Moorish objects, furniture and fabrics as well as more traditional European items. Under the heading of "curios", he also sold Japanese bric-a-brac of all kinds.
East India House was one of the first major shops to stock extensively products of the Arts and Crafts movement. Goods subsequently produced for Liberty showed both Oriental and Arts and Crafts influence.
In 1884 Liberty opened a costume department and in 1885 a wallpaper department.
Liberty commissioned leading designers of the time to create carpets, ceramics, clothing, furniture, silver and wallpaper exclusively for them.
In 1889 Liberty opened a branch in Paris which was instrumental in exposing Europeans to English Art Nouveau style.
Liberty registered their own silver hallmark in 1894 and in 1899 released a range of gold and silver objects under the name "Cymric", an Art Nouveau interpretation of the Celtic style. They were made by the Birmingham-based company W. H. Haseler.
In 1903 a range of pewter of similar design was released under the name "Tudric". Apart from its interesting designs, Tudric pewter differed from other pewter as it had a high silver content. It was also produced for Liberty by William Haseler of Birmingham.
From 1898 onwards, Liberty retained the services of Archibald Knox (1864-1933). Knox designed much of the Tudric Pewter and Cymric silver as well as textiles, and has been credited with 400 designs.
House rules prevented Liberty designers being allowed to sign their works, except for Archibald Knox.
Pieces with a Knox attribution tend to be the most sought after by collectors, and command a premium in price. Particularly desirable are those items with strong Celtic motifs and brightly coloured enamelling.
Liberty still trades from Regent Street, London.
An easy chair, usually with a somewhat reclining back and open arms. Some versions were made with detachable book and feet rests. Also of interest are metamorphic chairs, a chair which opened up to become a set of library steps. These are quite rare and keenly sought because of their dual function, when they come onto the market.
A set of steps, usually with a handrail, used for reaching the upper shelves in one's library. Also designed for the same purpose are metamorphic library chairs, a chair which opens up to become a set of library steps. These are quite rare and keenly sought because of their dual function, when they come onto the market.
A substantial table, equipped with drawers or cupboards, and sometimes with an adjustable reading rack, for use in the library. They took the form either of a pedestal desk at which two people could sit opposite each other, or of a more conventional table form. The tops were generally lined with tooled leather. Many Australian examples in red cedar and sometimes stained pine survive from the 19th and early 20th centuries.
Known as 'Cottage Ware', ceramic miniature of buildings have been manufactured by many potteries including Goss, Beswick and Royal Winton.
Lilliput Lane commenced production of their miniature cottages in 1982. David Tate, the founder, opened workshops at Skirsgill, in England Lake District and the company has remained in the area ever since. The majority of the models are based on real cottages with collections based not only on British Cottage but also American, and in the past German Dutch and French Cottages.
Most Lilliput Lane Cottages are made on the scale of 1:76. The modellers have more than 200 different tools at their disposal, including dentistry tools, to create a wax model which, is then used to make a mould for the cottage. The cottages have attracted a worldwide collector following. As new models are launched, older models are retired and become collectable. Subtle variations in models can affect the price, for example changes in colour or design, and with regular retirements and new issues, there is solid demand for earlier and rarer cottages.
The most expensive Lilliput cottage sold is the model of The Royal & Ancient Clubhouse at St. Andrews, Scotland. This exclusive silver-plated sculpture was produced between 1997 and 1999 in a limited edition of only nine models worldwide. The models were usually sold by auction at golf tournaments where they commanded a price of between £2,000 and £5,000. All proceeds from the sale of each model were donated to various charities throughout the U.K.
A process for finishing timber whereby the surface was covered with a coating of lime, which was subsequently brushed from the surface, but allowed to remain in the grain. The resulting surface with its streaking and speckling of white was usually left unpolished. The finish was popular for French furniture in the late 19th century, and English cottage style furniture in the early 20th century. Oak timber was popular for liming because its open grain retained a larger amount of the lime than other close grained timbers.
Nowadays the same effect can be achieved by use of paint, or proprietry solutions for "liming".
Doris Linder (1896 – 1979) was one of many freelance modellers used by Royal Worcester.
She began working for the firm in 1930 and is mainly remembered for her animal studies, all of which were taken from life.
Linder first modelled her pieces in plasticine, which she always asked to be returned so that it could be reused.
Originally a linen press was similar to a book press: the napkins and table cloths were placed between two flat boards which were brought together through a screw mechanism.
In current useage a linen press, (also known as a clothes press or gentleman's robe) refers to a type of wardrobe usually with sliding shelves enclosed by doors in the upper section, and drawers in the lower section.
The Linton's silver workshop in Perth was established early in the 20th century by James Walter Robert Linton. Born in Britain James Walter Robert Linton, was a trained painter and teacher of art, whose father was a practitioner and advocate for watercolour painting. James Walter Robert Linton came to Australia in 1896 to follow up an investment his father had made, and ending up staying. He taught art in Perth and returned to England in 1907-08 to study metalwork. On his return to Perth he went into partnership with another silversmith, Arthur Cross. On Cross' death in 1917, he was joined in the business by his son Jamie, who took over the running of the workshop. James Alexander Barrow Linton was born in Perth in 1904. Known as Jamie, he studied at the Perth Technical College and by 1921 was his fathers assistant in his silver smithing activities. He left Perth in 1926 to study in London and Paris. He returned to Perth in 1927 and worked with his father, eventually taking over the business and continuing the tradition of silver smithing. He died in 1980.
Literally from the French, 'boat-shaped bed', an Empire-style bed with curving head and footboards, often forming S-shaped scrolls, with the head and foot of equal height. Also known as a "sleigh bed"
Lithgow Pottery was established in 1876 after mining became an important industry in the area on completion of the rail link in 1869.
Using the coal resources available, a business was established manufucturing bricks and pipes in in the early 1970s and a pottery in 1876.
The range of pottery produced in the later years of the business included teapots, Toby jugs, cheese covers, bread trays and other utilitarian items. At the same time the brickworks were producing tiles pipes and chimney pots, and of course bricks.
The business closed in 1896 as a result of the 1890s depression, and dumping of cheaper lines from overseas.
As the pottery was only in operation for 20 years the quantity of pottery coming onto the market from this source is limited.
In silverware the hollow part of the object, such as the stem of a candlestick or the handle of a knife, that has been filled (loaded) with pitch or sand to add additional weight for stability.
A locket is an item of jewellery, usually a pendant worn on a chain around the neck, that is hinged and opens to reveal a space, sometimes called a "keepsake compartment", used for storing a a personal memento, such as a miniature, a photograph or strands of hair.
Other styles of lockets are worn as a brooch or bracelet.
They have been around in various forms since the 15th century, but reached the peak of their popularity in the 19th century, when sentimentality was part of the national psyche.
They are most commonly made of gold or silver, often decorated with precious or semi-precious stones and come in many shapes including ovals, hearts and circles.
A widely used term in the Australian antique trade describing a Victorian tilt-top on a pedestal base. Usually round or oval in shape, the top could be tilted vertically when not in use and the table pushed to one corner of the room. English versions are usually veneered in highly figured walnut, rosewood, mahogany, often with cross banding and stringing. In Australia, the form was much simpler with construction of Australia, cedar. The top, when horizontal, was held in place by brass thumbscrews fixed to the pedestal block. The term derives from a card game 'lanterloo' introduced to England from France during the early 19th century.
Quality can vary significantly in loo tables, and in the lesser examples the veneers are not so well figured, construction is lighter, and bases are of plainer design. Check for bubbling veneer, and patches where the veneer has lifted and disappeared. Often the damage occurs in the centre of the table, where a vase has leaked, and if there is inlay in the area, effective repair is almost impossible.
Throughout the Georgian period, a form of loop handle was used on drawer fronts, where the pull was attached to a solid or pierced brass backplate, frequently shaped and scalloped. Keyhole escutcheons were often made in similar design. Towards the end of the 18th century, the backplate was often oval in shape and impressed with a variety of beads and patterns. Smaller loop or ring handles were made, with the circular brass backplate complementing the ring pull
Louis XIV (1638 – 1715), known as Louis the Great or the Sun King, ruled through Cardinal Mazarin as chief minister from 1643 to 1661 and as monarch of the House of Bourbon and King of France and Navarre from 1661 until his death in 1715. His reign of 72 years is one of the longest in French and European history.
Louis XV (1710 – 1774), known as Louis the Well Beloved was a monarch of the House of Bourbon who ruled as King of France and Navarre from 1 September 1715 until his death in 1774. He succeeded his great-grandfather Louis XIV at the age of five, but until he reached maturity in 1723, his kingdom was ruled by Philippe II, Duke of Orléans, his first cousin twice removed, as Regent of France.
Louis XVI (1754 – 1793) was King of France and Navarre from 1774 until 1791, after which he was subsequently King of the French from 1791 to 1792, before his deposition and execution during the French Revolution.
His father, Louis, Dauphin of France, was the son and heir apparent of Louis XV of France. Due to the Dauphin's death in 1765, Louis succeeded his grandfather in 1774.
A small seat or couch wide enough to hold only two people sitting pretty closely together. The term is also applied to a serpentine-shaped couch, with a seat in either curve, so that the sitters' heads were adjacent to each other even though they were facing opposite directions. Sometimes also referred to as a 'conversation settee'.
A side table containing several drawers, usually with cabriole legs and a scalloped frieze or apron. An 18th century term, it is generally applied to American tables of this type. The opposite, one might say, to a 'tallboy'. Also used to describe a small wardrobe of 20th century origin.
Lowestoft is a town in Suffolk, and a porcelain works was established there in 1757 by three local residents after a discovery of clay in the area, supposedly using a formula supplied by the Bow porcelain factory in the London suburb of Bow, about 5 miles east of central London.
The works produced soft paste porcelain, with the emphasis on Chinese inspired decoration with underglaze blue in the early years. In later years a wider range of decorative themes were used.
The factory ceased production in 1802, but a company using the name "Lowestoft Porcelain 2000" was established in that year to make porcelain in the old Lowestoft styles, shapes and colours.
Lucite was invented in 1931 by chemists at DuPont. It was crystal clear, resistant to water and UV rays, and was low density yet stronger than previous plastics. Like Bakelite, Lucite was used extensively in war supplies during WWII.
After the war, the plastics were used for jewellery and other items. Lucite rings were highly popular during the '50s and '60s, as were Lucite handbags. In 1993, DuPont sold its acrylic resin operations, and the Lucite name now belongs to Lucite International in Southampton, UK.
In Victorian times, a glass bowl or candlestick, often made and sold as pairs, with attached decorative prismatic drops of glass or crystal.
The main centres of manufacture are believed to be England and Bohemia, which amongst other styles, produced lustres with enamelled decoration.
They were designed to sit on a mantle or sideboard, and the prisms would reflect the light in the room.
Prices are dependent on the size of the lustres and the colour and decoration on the glass bowls. Damaged or missing drops will considerably depreciate the value.
The name given to the facetted crystal drops on a chandelier.
Ceramics that have been coated with metallic oxides and then fired, to give a metallic finish, using a similar technique to, and sometimes resembling the irridescent finish on glass. Colours produced included silver (using platinum), gold, pink, white, copper and cream. Lustre ware was first made in England in the late 18th century. In the 19th century, many Staffordshire potteries produced lustre ware including Crown Devon, Royal Worcester, Carlton Ware, and Wedgwood. A lustre glaze was used very successfully by Belleek, in Country Fermanagh, Ireland. Many of their wares displayed a nautical theme including shell shapes, dolphins, and mer-boys.
Attributed to the 18th century designer Robert Adam, the back splat of a chair or sthe supports of a table are in the form of a lyre, a Greek musical instrument similar to a harp.
In shape it resembles two reversed scrolls.
Chairs continued to be made in this style for at least the next fifty years.
In Australia many cedar chairs and tables have survived dating to the 1830s and 1840s, featuring the lyre shape in the back splats and as supports for small tables.