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.

Mackennal, Edgar Bertram

Born in Melbourne in 1862, MacKennal studied with his father, J.S. MacKennal and at the National Gallery School, Melbourne.

He travelled to England in 1882 studying at the Royal Academy School, London and in Paris, spending five years in the latter city and coming under the influence of French Symbolism and Romanticism. He spent the rest of his working life in London, although he did return to Australia from 1889 to 1892, having won the competition for the decoration of Government House in Victoria.

He exhibited at the Royal Academy from 1886. Prior to his return to Australia he had became head of the Art Department of Coalport Potteries in England.

He executed commissions for the relief carvings in the Victorian Houses of Parliament and for the design of coins. He was knighted in 1921 in recognition of his equestrian portrait of King Edward VII.

MacKennal spent much of his later life in England where he died in 1931.

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Mackintosh, Charles Rennie

Charles Rennie Mackintosh (1868 - 1928) was an important Scottish architect, water colourist and designer duing the Arts & Crafts period.

Born in Glasgow, and at age 15 he began evening classes at the Glasgow School of Art. It was here he met his future wife Margaret Macdonald, who he married in 1900. Together with his wife, his wife's sister and her husband, they exhibited furniture and posters and became known as the 'Glasgow Four".

Mackintosh originally produced graphic work and repousse metalwork in conventional Art Nouveau style, but from the 1890s developed a distinctive simplified style highly influential on Viennese furniture and architecture.


Mahogany is a dense, close grained red-coloured timber from the West Indies and Central America. It was first imported into Europe in the the early 18th century and its use continued through the 19th century. It was popular for furniture making because of its strength, the wide boards available, the distinctive grain on some boards, termed flame mahogany and the rich warm colour of the timber when it was polished.. The "flame" was produced where a limb grew out from the trunk of the tree, and this timber was usually sliced into veneers for feature panels on doors, backs and cornices.

Some terms used to describe mahogany relate to the country from which it originally came, such as "Cuban" mahogany, "Honduras" mahogany etc. However unless the wood has been tested the names assigned are more a selling feature, rather than a true indication of the timber's origin.

Mahood, Marguerite Henriette

Born in Melbourne in 1901, Mahood studied extensively in Melbourne. A painter, ceramic and metalwork artist, cartoonist, illustrator and art historian, she exhibited watercolours and ceramics with the Victorian Artists' Society.

In the late 1940s she ran a screen-printing business, and also contributed series of natural history cartoons to newspapers and magazines. In 1970 she was awarded a PhD for her thesis on nineteenth-century political cartoons. Mahood died in 1989.

Her work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, the state galleries of New South Wales and Victoria, and in provincial and public collections.

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Maintaining Power

A horological term to describe a subsidiary driving force such as a spring or additional weight in a clock, which keeps the movement going while the mainspring is being rewound.


Majolica is a trade name first used in England by the Minton Pottery, and later by others including Wedgwood, Copeland, George Jones, and in Australia by John Campbell and Bendigo Pottery. A large quantity of majolica was also produced in England and Europe that is unmarked, or was made by minor manufacturers.

Majolica is an earthenware pottery decorated with a clear lead glaze and is characterised by vivid colour and a high gloss finish.

It was first introduced in England by Minton at the Great Exhibition in London in 1851 as "Palissy ware", named after the inventor, the 16th century French potter Bernard Palissy, (c 1510 - c 1589) and also another type of earthenware coloured by an opaque glaze, which it called "Majolica Ware", the name derived from the Italian maiolica ware. However over time the name "Palissy Ware" was dropped and the wares became known as "Majolica". To add to the confusion, the English pottery A.E. Jones and Sons, of Stoke-on-Trent, used the name "Palissy" for its majolica wares.


Malachite is bright copper-green coloured stone with concentric layers which displays distinct contrasting veinings. It has been valued in the past for making or decorating small precious objects such as clocks, jewellery, dishes and so. In the Orient it was used for snuff bottles and in Russia and was favoured by the Faberge workshop. larger pieces were used for table tops.

The principal source of supply was Russia but it is to be found in other regions such as Southern Africa, Mexico, Australia and France.

Malachite glass is a manufactured material that was intended to resemble malachite, but often bears more resemblance to a veined coloured marble due to its lower gloss finish and lack of concentric layers. Malachite glass was manufactured by many glassworks in the 19th century including Loetz in Australia and others in Bohemia and Davidson's Greener's and Sowerby in north eastern England.

It was particuarly used for scent bottles, bowls, and small vases often decorated with nymphs.

Malachite glass has been manufactured continuously since the late nineteenth century, most is unmarked and it is difficult to distinguish the age or manufacturer of most commercial pieces.

Manner of .... / Style of .....

A cataloguing term where the item, in the opinion of the cataloguer is a work in the style of the artist, craftsman or designer, possibly of a later period.

Maori Artifacts - Important Notice

Under the New Zealand Protected Objects Act 1975, administered by the New Zealand Ministry for Culture & Heritage, the sale, trade, export and ownership of some Maori artefact are regulated

Objects over 50 years old that also have Maori cultural significance must be inspected by Ministry for Culture & Heritage, and if significant the object will be allocated a "Y" number, a unique identification number. Artefacts that have a Y number can only be purchased by those that are registered collectors with the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

These collectors have a ‘registered number’. Y numbered artefacts cannot leave the country without written permission from the Ministry for Culture & Heritage. Those who are not registered collectors, and usually reside in New Zealand, can apply to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage to become one.

There are no restrictions on the purchase of Maori items that have no Y number or Pacific Island or other artefacts from around the world.

As this site is a price guide, and does not offer items for sale, the Y numbers applicable to any items on this site are not displayed..

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Maple, native to North America, is a dense heavy timber from light to yellow-brown in colour. It has very little distincive graining unless it is one of the variants such as birds-eye maple or burr maple, so was not used extensively for furniture in 18th and 19th century, where cabinetmakers and designers preferred timbers with more distinctive features such as mahogany, walnut, rosewood and oak.

Birds-eye maple has a seres of small spots linked by undulating lines in the grain, is highly sough and is used as a decorative veneer. Burr maple has larger and irregular grain swirls than birds-eye maple.


A descriptive term for a finish applied to plastic, ceramics, glass, plaster or wood to imitate the colours and characteristic markings of various marble types. For moulded items such as the first three above, the marbling is within the item.

Interiors and furniture were marbled from from the early 17th century to the late Victorian period. The craft was practiced by skilled decorators using a combination of brushes and sponges. Some of the finishes achieved were so realistic as to make it difficult to distinguish the marbled surface from the marble surface.

Marbling is also a term applied to a finish for paper as often seen in the front and endpapers of old books. The marbling is achieved by floating the colours on water and then transferring them to paper. However the marbling finish on paper, as with the marbling finish on plastics, with its multitude of colours has little resemblance to naturally occurring marble.


Marcasite is a mineral, iron sulphide, but is rarely used in jewellery. Instead marcasite is the name given to iron pyrites, the mineral sold as marcasite which is identical in copmosition to iron sulphide but crystalises as a cube, making it more suitable for jewellery. It is a brassy yellow in colour and is also known as "fool's gold", and sits well with silver rather than gold becasue of its colour.

Marcasite has been used in jewellery since ancient times and became popular again in jewellery in the 18th century, continuing through to the early 20th century, with the settings becoming cheaper as time progressed, eventually earning the sobriquet "costume jewellery" along with other cheap jewellery that was made for a prevailing pattern and meant to be changed with each new outfit.

Marine Chronometer

A mahogany two day chronometer, No. 615, English, by Arnold & Dent, 84 Strand, London, 11 cm silvered dial with subsidiary seconds and up/down dials, fusee movement with maintaining power.

A marine chronometer is a clock with a highly accurate time-keeping mechanism that can be used to determine longitude by means of celestial navigation..

They were essential navigational instruments for mariners and used in conjunction with the sextant they can determine an accurate calculation of the latitude and longitude of a vessel.

Prior to the invention of the chronometer in the 18th century, there was no reliable method for determining longitude, (although latitude could be calculated) with the result that ships could end up many miles east or west from their proposed destination, and even worse, run aground on land or reefs.

Credit for the invention of the chronometer is given to John Harrison, originally a Yorkshire carpenter, who spent most of his working life perfecting the invention.

Chronometers are usually mounted on gimbals and housed in a highly polished block-shaped wooden case often with protective brass edges, handles and a viewing lid. Emphasising the importance placed on safeguarding the chronometer, this was then second felt-lined wooden case.

The marine chronometer became redundant as a navigational aid in the early 1920s with the introduction if radio time signals.

Although no longer required for navigation, the quality of the workmanship in the chronometer has inspired collectors.

Prices for chronometers are determined by the name of the maker and the country of origin of the chronometer, whether the movement is of two or eight day duration, the quality of the casing, its provenance or history and, most importantly, by the condition of the movement and whether it has been altered or not, or includes any special features.

Sought after English makers include Thomas Mercer, Arnold & Dent, Parkinson and Frodsham, and Charles Shepherd.

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In marquetry inlay, contrasting woods, and other materials such as ivory, shell and metal are inlaid either as panels or in a single continuous sheet over the surface of the piece. The design may be straightforward, such as a shell pattern or a basket of flowers, or it may be infinitely complex, with swirling tendrils of leaves, flowers and foliage, such as one finds, for example, in the "seaweed" patterns on longcase clocks of the William and Mary and Queen Anne periods.

Marriage Chest

A large wooden trunk, often carved and decorated, sometimes with initials and a date, in which a young woman would store clothes, sheets, linen and other domestic necessaries, in anticipation of her marriage. Sometimes known as a dowry chest.

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Marrow Scoops and Spoons

A George III period double ended silver marrow scoop. London 1799.

An item of cutlery used from the late 17th century, designed for extracting bone marrow from bone cavities after cooking. Bone marrow was considered a delicacy and at a time when cutlery was coming into use, a marrow scoop enabled a diner to extract the marrow with finesse, rather than sucking, slurping and mouthing the bones.

Some marrow scoops have a spoon like end, while others have a long narrow gulley end, and some are double ended with different size scoops at each end to suit various sized bones.

Marsh, Jones & Cribb (uk)

Marsh, Jones & Cribb was founded in the mid 19th century, based in Leeds, and in the 1860s opened premises in Cavendish Square, London. In the 1880s and 90s the firm were proponents of the Gothic Revival style and then later Arts & Crafts style. They worked with distinguished designers such as Charles Bevan, Bruce Talbert and William Lethaby.

Each piece manufactured usually bears the name of the craftsman, as well as the name of the company.

In 1923 the firm was taken over by C. P. Sixsmith and after several changes of ownership is still in operation today as a painting and decorator contractor to large companies and government departments.

Martens, Dino

Dino Martens, Nabucco Oriente Vase, designed c1952, model no. 3121, polychrome glass decorated with five cane inclusions, three clear inclusions and a large star murine, manufactured by Aureliano Toso, Murano, height 24.5 cm.

In the 1950s Dino Martens (1894 - 1970) was one of the leading innovative glass artists in Murano, Italy.

He was born in Venice in 1894 and studied painting at the Accademia 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 SAL.I.R. and Salviati.

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.

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Mary Gregory Glass

Popular because of its attractive colours and naïve charm, 'Mary Gregory' glass, in popular belief originated from a lady by that name in America who painted scenes of children on ruby (cranberry), blue or green glass using a white enamel paint mixed with ground glass.

The painted scenes usually depict a child in an outdoor setting, playing with butterfly nets, hoops, or blowing bubbles, and often trees and foliage are framed to one side of the composition acting.

However it actually originated from glassworks in Bohemia, part of Czechoslovakia from 1918, and from 1993, part of the Czech Republic and was a major export commodity for the region in the mid and latter quarter of the 19th century.

Research has established that although there was a lady by the name of Mary Gregory (1856 - 1908) who worked for the Boston and Sandwich Glass Company in Cape Cod, Massachusetts she did not paint children, but landscapes including winter scenes.

Of the range of Mary Gregory decorated items produced, over 90% coming onto the market are vases in a multitude of shapes and sizes. Other items include jugs, glasses, jars, decanters and bowls, as well as many sets, such as jugs and decanters with matching glasses. Vases were often produced in pairs.

'Mary Gregory' glass was also produced in England and Italy in the 19th century, and because of its popularity, its manufacture is known to have been resumed at times in the 20th century, in at least the United States,

In terms of market pricing, the simple rule is the larger the piece the more expensive. Some vases on stands can stand over 85 cm tall. A premium is added if there is a suite of items, for example a pair of vases and a matching comport.


A very rare Mashman Brother's gumleaf 'foliage' ware flower pot/jardiniere, 14 x 16 cm

Mashman Pottery was founded by the brothers William and Henry Mashman in the 1880's, together with James Sandison to form Mashman & Sandison Pottery at what is now Chatswood, a suburb of Sydney, NSW.

The company produced house bricks and a range of domestic pottery, and as the Mashman brothers had trained in England at Doulton Lambeth Pottery, there was a similarity of styles between Doulton and Mashman.

The brothers bought out the interest of James Sandison in 1892.

In 1908 the company was again split when Fredrick Albert Mashman, son of William left the employ of the Mashman Brother's family company to open his own pottery at Kingsgrove NSW, trading as Fred A. Mashman Pty. Ltd., making traditional terra cotta products for the restoration and new dwelling markets.

The Royal Doulton company took over Mashman in 1959, and continued making sanitary wares. The business passed to Caroma Industries Pty. Ltd. in 1980, but it ceased trading in 2000. A portion of the site of the former pottery was turned over to housing, and a large part converted into a public park.


For decorative purposes the centre exposed brass area of a dial clock was often matted. this practice, dating from the second half of the 17th century was produced by hammering the brass with a single or multi-pointed punch, by rolling the brass or by etching the brass with acid.

The process creates a fine granulated surface in which the light is refracted in different directions and so was more pleasing to the eye than the flat brass surface.

Mauchline Ware

Scottish mauchline ware horse shoe form ink well, with a jockey cap shaped cover, and a view of 'Hatfield House'.

Mauchline ware is the name given to small wooden items, produced in the town of Mauchline near Kilmarnock in Scotland from about the 1820s by the firm of W & A Smith and were originally decorated with hand painted and hand drawn designs such as tartan, landscape and Scottish scenes and ferns, and then after about 1850 with transfer prints, which were coated with clear varnish.

Most items were made from sycamore wood, which is a close grained pale coloured (almost white) timber in its unpolished state.

Its popularity increased after visitors to the Great Exhibition in 1851 had admired the Mauchline ware on display. Adding to the popularity of Mauchline ware, was the tourist market which was assisted by the building of railway lines to open up the country. The tourist wanted something small and easily transportable, as a memento of their holiday and named Mauchline ware souvenirs were produced for this market.

A variety of nick-nacks were made, including spectacle, needle and card cases; money, stamp, games and snuff boxes, egg timers, paper knives, napkin rings souvenir and Christmas ware.

By 1900 the market for Mauchline ware had began to decline and in the mid 1930s, the factory closed.

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A German drinking vessel, in the form of a shallow wooden and silver bowl without handles, on a broad flat foot, in use from the 13th to the 16th centuries. mazers of the period are extremely rare, and any coming onto the market are likely to be later versions, inspired by the original designs.

Mchugh's Pottery

Established in 1872 by Scotsman John McHugh at Sandhill near Launceston Tasmania, the business was primarily a pipe manufacturing business, as well as producing secondary lines in domestic and agricultural wares.

John McHugh died in in 1892 and the business was continued by his sons.

So far as collectors are concerned, the McHugh Pottery golden years are the 1930s, when several well known potters were employed, and the output of art pottery of the period is noted for its drip glazes in yellows, blues and pinks, known in the company as "fancy wares". Some of the wares of this period are dated.

McHugh ceased making art pottery in the mid 1940s but continued with its pipe making, domestic and agricultural wares, making it a takeover target in the 1950s for Humes Ltd., who were pipe manufacturers.

In 1988 Humes was acquired by the Smorgan groupand in 1990 Humes changed its name to to S.C.I Steel Ltd.

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Meat Covers

Meat covers, also known as dish covers, were designed for covering large platters in order to protect the food and retain the heat. They are usually ovel, matching the typical shape of tha platter, and vary in size from about 30 cm to 60 cm. They are topped by a reeded or foliate handle. While the surface of most are solid metal, there are examples where the outer surface is wholly or partly plated wire mesh.

The covers were made in silver, Sheffield plate and silver plate and earlier silver examples date from the mid 1700s. Due to the amount of silver they contain, and consequently their cost, and value if sold for melt, silver covers are vastly outnumbered by plated examples. Sheffield plated examples date from the early 1800s while plated covers are generally from the Victorian era.

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A pre-war Meccano 0 Constructor Biplane circa 1930s, made as a military seaplane, blue and cream with RAF roundels, a pilot, cream pontoons, with a 47 cm wingspan,

For those boys who grew up in the 1950s and 1960s, a Meccano set was the equivalent to today's Xbox or Nintendo.

Meccano Ltd was invented by Frank Hornby, a young clerk who worked for a meat importing company in Liverpool, after his idea in 1901 of a new toy - 'Mechanics Made Easy'. This very quickly became known as Meccano, and was soon on sale across the world.

'The Meccano Magazine' - a monthly newsletter - was introduced in 1916 and contained articles of interest to budding engineers. It included new plans for models which could be assembled with Meccano, often requiring the purchase of additional parts or a larger outfit.

At its peak The Meccano Magazine enjoyed a circulation of 50,000 and was published until 1980. Apart from development of new and modified components, Meccano underwent colour changes on many occasions - some of which reflected the mood of the time.

For example in 1936 it was produced in royal blue with gold cross-hatching to mark the coronation of King George VI following the abdication of his brother, Edward VIII; in 1939 with he impending World War, Meccano was produced in matt green similar to the colour of military vehicles then in common use.

By the end of the 1930's Meccano was being produced under license in France, Germany, Spain, and the USA.

The advent of television and then later, computers, made a serious dent in the popularity of Meccano (and many other practical hobbies) and Meccano ceased production at its Liverpool factory in 1979. The French producer of Meccano bought the worldwide rights, stepped up production and relaunched the company as Meccano SA.

Meccano is currently enjoying a worldwide resurgence of interest due, paradoxically, in large part to the computer and the internet. An internet search on the keyword 'Meccano' reveals a large number of web sites dedicated to the hobby and Meccano clubs are still found in many countries.

Medullary Rays

The medullary rays in timber are markings in the grain of ribbon form that extend through the tree and perpendicular to the growth rings. On oak they often display as a lighter coloured narrow ribbon, compared with the surrounding timber.

Melbourne Chair Company

The Melbourne Chair Company made wooden cottage chairs, with spindle backs, featuring Australian motifs pressed into the top rail. The three most common designs were: the kangaroo back with banksia flowers (registered number 252), the emu back with ferns and gum flowers (registered number 253), the lyrebird back with ferns and the Sturt desert pea (registered number 254). There is a fourth design featuring the Australian coat of arms, but this is very scarce.

The Melbourne Chair Company, operating under the trade name Melchair Pty Ltd was trading until the mid 1980s but closed a short period after a fire destroyed the factory.

The so-called Federation chairs were made from about 1906 until the 1930s, although reproductions are now on the market, including carver and high chairs. Some of the original machines in fact are still in use, but the dies used to press the famous backs have been replaced.

Tasmanian blackwood was used for the turned legs and spindles, the seats were usually of kauri pine, sometimes saddled, sometimes caned, and the backs were pressed from hoop pine. When finished, the chairs were dipped in varnish. Essentially based on the American mass production techniques, Federation chairs have become sought after by most collectors of Australiana.

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Melrose Australian Ware

About 1932 the Hoffman Brick Company in Melbourne expanded its interests and took over a small art-pottery and began to market a range of commercial art-pottery that employed Australian floral and faunal motifs.

This ware was called ‘Mel-rose Australian Ware' and although moulded and thus capable of being economically mass-produced it had some of the qualities of more expensive handmade pottery. Usually coloured green, a fresh clean colour that enjoyed a lasting vogue in the 1930s after the drab browns and ochres of the Depression, some examples exist which have white, pink, grey blue or other coloured glazes. Gum leaves are the usual motif employed on Mel-rose Australian Ware. Possums, kangaroos, koalas and fish are some of the animals employed as decorative motifs on bowls jugs, vases and bookends.

Mel-rose Australian Ware continued in production until about 1940, when the escalation of war efforts and privation made the production of goods impossible.

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Memento Mori

A memento mori is an artistic or symbolic reminder of mortality. Literally translated from the Latin it reads: "remember that you will die". They are found in art, architecture, horology, music and jewellery.

Memphis Group

A Tahiti lamp, designed 1981 by Ettore Sottsass (1917-2007), manufactured by Memphis, Italy, enamelled metal and laminex, height 70 cm

The Memphis Group, a design collaborative, was founded in Milan on the initiative of designer and architect Ettore Sottsass (1917 - 2007), in December 1980.

The group derived its name from the Bob Dylan song 'Stuck Inside of Mobile with the Memphis Blues Again', said to be playing at their inaugural meeting.

As well as Ettore Sottsass, its members included Michele de Lucchi, Barbara Radice, Nathalie du Pasquier, Marco Zanini and Martine Bedin.

The group's work was shown for the first time at the Milan Furniture Fair in September 1981 and after that exhibitions were held annually until 1988, although the designs were not universally admired.

Memphis group designers used new materials, particularly patterned laminated plastics, to achieve brightly-coloured and often kitsch effects and the group dominated Italian avant-garde design throughout the 1980s.

Most pieces are marked, and some also bear the designer's name and the date and place of manufacture.

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Metamorphic Furniture

An item of furniture, that can be transformed from its apparent purpose to a different purpose. The most common examples are the library chair that can be folded into a set of library steps, and the side table that transforms into a multi-tiered dumb waiter through a series of ropes, pulleys and weights.

Milk Glass

A pair of white ground milk glass lustre vases, with gilt highlights, hung with prism drops.

Although milk glass has been made since the 16th century, it became popular in the mid 19th century, (when it was called opal glass) and almost all the glass that comes onto the market is from this period, manufactured in England and the USA.

The opaque porcelain-like white colour is achieved through the addition of white oxide tot he mix. Other ingredients are added to the mix to add colour: blue, pink, yellow, brown, and even black, but it is still called milk glass.

The most common objects were lamps, vases, lustres and other table ware.

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A vintage millefiori glass vase, baluster shape with tall neck and frilled rim.

Millefiori, which translates from the Italian as "a thousand flowers" is a method of decorating glass with slices of coloured canes in flower design, embedded in clear molten glass.

The technique was known as far back as the first century BC and was revived and modified in Venice in the 16th century.

The process was used to make paperweights in Venice and Bohemia in the 19th century, and the technique spread to France, England and the United States.

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A type of jewellery setting where the stone is held is held in position by small adjacent beads of metal. This method of securing the stone was popular in the 19th century.

Mincham, Jeff

Jeffrey Mincham was born 1950, Milang, South Australia.

Studied art education at the Western Teachers College, South Australia and ceramics at the South Australian School of Art and the Tasmanian School of Art, Hobart, under Les Blakebrough.

In 1976 he began potting full-time at the Jam Factory Craft Centre, Adelaide, and became workshop foreman.

In 1977 he established his own workshop at Cherryville, South Australia, where he has continued to work up to the present.

In 2009 he was recognised as a "Living Treasure" by Craft Australia.

His first solo exhibition was at the Jam Factory, Adelaide in 1976.

His work is held by the Art Gallery of South Australia, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, National Gallery of Victoria, Queensland Art Gallery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, and regional galleries.

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Miner's Couch

Also known as a colonial day bed. Another Australian piece, the design derives from the sofas and couches in the Classical Revival style. The single or double ends are rounded or scrolled, with splay or sabre-shaped legs. The ends are connected by three or sometimes four substantial turned spindles. The pieces were sometimes supplied with backs, usually solid wood, of serpentine shape and often with a central 'rolling-pin' turning. The base generally consisted of three or four loose wooden slats laid horizontally.

The ends and side rails of these couches were often held together with bolts, enabling the piece to be easily dismantled and transported from one place to another. Hence the colloquial terms often used 'miner's couch', or 'shepherd's couch'. Many couches made in the same general design were not intended to be moved from the parlour and were often equipped with fixed turned feet and upholstered seats and backs. The colonial day beds were frequently made from red cedar, though many examples survive in pine or blackwood.

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Thomas Minton (1765 - 1836) established his pottery at Stoke-on-Trent, styled as Thomas Minton & Sons, in 1793, while in his late twenties, having previously been apprenticed and then worked as an engraver at the Caughley works, where he is credited with the design of the "Willow" and "Blue Dragon" patterns.

After initially making blue printed earthenware and then soft paste porcelain, in the 1820s the company commenced producing bone china, and this became its principal activity.

Thomas Minton died in 1836 and the business was taken over by his son Herbert Minton, and by this time had established a reputation for wares of exceptional quality. The name of the company was changed to Minton & Co.

Many of their designs were classically based and either copied from Sevres designs, or finished from blanks supplied by Sevres.

Production of parian ware figures, a white unglazed statuary porcelain resembling marble, commenced about 1841, and some of the figures were based on sculptures by John Bell, and American Hiram Powers. Sales of parian figures were boosted by special orders from the Art Union of London, and other art unions where subscribers paid an annual fee, and in return participated in a ballot to receive a copy of an art work.

Herbert Minton died in 1848 and control of the company passed to his nephew, Colin Minton Campbell.

The company's high reputation enabled it to secure the services of a team of talented artists and designers, including some from France. The close relationship with Sevres continued when in 1849, Leon Arnoux a ceramicist from Sevres was appointed Art Director at Minton. He was responsible for the for the introduction of Minton's range of majolica which was one of the successes of the Great Exhibition of 1851.

Others recruited included Henry Mitchell, a talented painter of animal themes; Richard Pilsbury, a leading floral artists; Anton Boullemier who excelled in portraiture and allegorical compositions; William Mussill, a French-trained artist; Herbert Wilson Foster who specialised in portraiture, bird and animal subjects.

Another was Marc-Louis Solon, a French artist who moved from France to Stoke-on-Trent in 1870 and introduced pate-sur-pate, first used by Sevres, which is a method of building up low relief decoration by applying successive coats of clay slip or by modelling.

Solon's son Marc-Louis Solon a made major contribution to Art Nouveau ceramics with a fine range of slip-trailed majolica ware, while his son, Leon Solon produced designed that were strongly influenced by the Viennese Secessionist art movement. The range included tableware, as well as vases of many shapes.

The Minton factory in the centre of Stoke was rebuilt and modernised after the World War II.

During the rationalisation of the British pottery industry in the mid 20th century, Minton merged with Royal Doulton (in 1968), and in turn, Royal Doulton was taken over by the Waterford Wedgwood group in January 2005, and the group was renamed WWRD Holdings Ltd. (Waterford Wedgwood Royal Doulton).

WWRD Holdings Ltd. Was placed into receivership in 2009 due to being unable to service its extensive debt, and parts of the company were purchased by a New York private equity investor, KPS Capital Partners.

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Small handheld or wall mirrors were not made in England until the beginning of the 17th century. Until then, most were imported from Venice. The celebrated Vauxhall glasshouses were opened in the 1660s.

At first, hand blown techniques were used, but the glass showed a great many imperfections, particularly when used for mirror making. Glass casting, where the molten glass was poured on to a bed of hot metal and rolled, was introduced in France in the later 17th century, but it was not until 1773 that the British Plate Glass Company was incorporated. From then on this glass tended to supplant the French imports.

Initially the mirrored pieces were relatively small and a large carved frame frequently had to incorporate glazing bars to accommodate several pieces of glass. After the mid-18th century improved techniques meant that large plates could be produced, and one supplied by Chippendale measured 231cm by 146cm.

Bevelling techniques, in which the edge of the plate glass was ground to a forty-five degree angle and polished, were not used on a wide scale until after 1750. Thereafter, most mirrors were bevelled until recently when the cost involved made it largely uneconomic.

From the early 19th century large numbers of round wall mirrors have been made with convex glass, the frames generally gilded and surmounted with an eagle or other trophy. While such pieces originally date from the Classical Revival period they have been made until modern times.

Though mirror backs are referred to as being 'silvered', silver was not used until the mid-19th century. Before that, an amalgam of tinfoil and mercury was used. In 1840 the process was invented whereby a thin coat of silver was applied to the glass by chemical means. Up until about 15 years ago, it was possible to have mirrors re-silvered, but this is now illegal, as it has been realised that the mercury and tin backing found on antique mirrors can damage heart, kidneys, lungs, brain and immune system.

Nowadays if a mirror is in poor condition it is replaced rather than resilvered. This is accepted practice for Victorian and later pieces, but for Georgian and earlier mirrors, the value is substantially depreciated if the mirror has been replaced or re-silvered. The consensus is that it is far better to learn to live with a mirror even if the reflection is somewhat worn and rubbed, than remove the main evidence that the piece is an antique.

An overmantle mirror is large framed, carved and often gilt plate-glass mirror attached to the wall above a mantelpiece. In Australia the term more usually describes a wooden frame containing several small mirrors and shelves supported by spindles that, during the later Victorian period and certainly by the Edwardian age, had largely replaced the single mirror above fireplaces. It was an age that liked indeed needed many small shelves to display the countless household knick-knacks.

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Modernism was a movement in the arts and design, that arose after World War I in reaction to Art Nouveau, and which emphasised the functionality of design.

Modernist designers preferred the new materials of the age such as plastic and steel and were influenced by Cubist art.


A Japanese black lacquer chest, circa 1830, with family marks (mon) in red lacquer

A mon is a Japanese heraldic emblem, indicating the status or the family of the owner, similar to a family crest. Nowadays almost all Japanese families and many businesses have a mon.

In decorative arts, mon are used as a decorative element on a vase, plate, bowl or item of furniture.

Monk's Bench

A baronial oak monks seat, the back carved with lozenge decoration and carved wooden front.

A dual purpose item of furniture, where the table top sits atop a chest, and when required the top tips to form the backrest while the top of the chest becomes the seat.

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Monkey Orchestra

A single antique Meissen monkey band figurine

The Monkey Orchestra, was first made by Meissen in 1753, for Augustus III, King of Saxony, in 1753 supposedly after a guest at one his lavish banquets made fun of his orchestra and said that they played like performing monkeys.

The figurines were created by the Meissen modeller Johann Joachim Kaendler and revised by modeller Peter Reinicke in 1765/66. A full orchestra consists of 21 figurines, plus a music stand, but most sets coming onto the market contain fewer figures.

Later, other factories picked up the design and produced their own version of the monkey orchestra, and Meissen is still making a monkey orchestra.

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Monochrome / Monochromatic

A painting or drawing finished in a single colour, or in different shades of a single color.

Monopodia / Monopodium

An early 20th century mahogany and brass strung armchair in the Charles X style with lion monopodia uprights.

A monopodia / monopodium is a leg or support on furniture or other item, formed from the head and leg of an animal, usually a lion. This style of support became popular in the Regency period when it was used on tables, sideboards and occasionally cabinet furniture.


A sterling silver monteith bowl, by D & J Wellby, London, 1924, engraved throughout with exotic oriental figures, flowers and birds with central vacant cartouche and lion masked handles.

A bowl with a scalloped or notched rim, used in 17th century to allow drinking glasses to hang by the foot into iced water for chilling before use.

Later examples often have a detachable rim, so the bowl can also be used for serving punch.

Moon Dial

The dial of an English georgian longcase clock with phases of the moon, and subsidiary chapte ring displating the number of days passed in the current lunar cycle.

If we imagine life in the 17th century, the only source of ascertaining the time of day or night would have been the local church or municipal clock striking every quarter hour, and able to be heard by all in the village. In England, when longcase clocks became popular and more affordable in the late 17th century, the function of timekeeping and source of time was moved to within the home.

An additional feature on some longcase clocks was to display the phases of the moon, that is the new moon, the full moon and the waning moon over the lunar 29 ½ day cycle. This information was important for farmers for working out cropping schedules; for travellers to know the amount of moonlight on a night they planned to travel; and for those who lived near the sea required knowledge of the tides.

Where included, the moon dial is usually in the form of a disc incorporated into the main dial plate, usually in the arched top section. The lunar cycle starts with the new moon displaying, which is a dark night sky and no man-in-the-moon face being displayed, and then progresses to the full moon face showing on the 15th day of the lunar cycle, and back to no face displaying as the moon wanes. Most lunar dials are partially concealed on each side of their opening in the main dial plate by semi-circular "humps" that allow the painted face to emerge slowly just as the real moon goes out of and back into the earth's shadow.

Nowadays, details of the lunar cycle is published in diaries, almanacs, and newspapers and although some modern longcase clocks are still manufactured with working moon dials, they are more for decoration than for use.

Moon, Milton

Milton Moon was born in 1926, Melbourne, Victoria.

He studied painting and drawing at Central Technical College, Brisbane, and then studied pottery privately with Harry Memmott, and wheel-throwing in particular with Merryn Feeney at the Sandison Pottery in Brisbane.

In 1982, after some years working in broadcasting and television he became Senior Pottery Instructor at the Central Technical College, Brisbane.

In 1969 he moved to Adelaide where he was appointed a senior lecturer in the ceramics department of the South Australian School of Art.

In 1974 he lived and worked in Japan for one year assisted by the Myer Foundation.

In 1975 he began working full-time at his Summertown Pottery in the Adelaide Hills.

Since 1959 he has held numerous solo exhibitions in all Australian capital cities and has participated in many group exhibitions.

He is represented in the Australian National Gallery and all the state galleries.

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An impressive Moorcroft Limited Edition Australiana vase, of baluster form decorated with flowering gum nuts and gum leaves on a pale blue ground

William Moorcroft was employed by Staffordshire pottery manufacturers James Macintyre & Co. Ltd. as a designer in 1897, and after a year he was responsible for the company's art pottery studio.

William Moorcroft created designs for the Macintyre's Aurelian Ware range of high-Victorian pottery, which had transfer-printed and enamelled decoration in bold red, blue and gold colours. He also developed the art nouveau-influenced Florian Ware which was decorated entirely by hand, with the design outlined in trailed slip using a technique known as tubelining. William Moorcroft's designs won him a gold medal at the St. Louis International Exhibition in 1904.

Each piece of pottery produced was personalised with Moorcroft's own signature or initials.

William Moorcroft and James Macintyre & Co. Ltd. split up in 1913 and Moorcroft founded his own factory nearby. Some finance came from the famous London store Liberty, and Liberty continued to exercise control over Moorcroft until 1962.

Moorcroft's reputation was further enhanced with the appointment of the Moorcroft company as Potter to HM The Queen in 1928.

On the death of William Moorcroft in 1945, his elder son, Walter, took over management and design and he continued in this position until his retirement in 1987, after which he continued contributing to Moorcroft designs.

During the tenure of Walter Moorcroft, the Liberty store's interest in Moorcroft was purchased by Moorcroft in 1962.

In the 1980s Moorcroft got into financial difficulties as a result of rising wages and fuel, which were exacerbated by the labour intensive techniques employed by Moorcroft and the company went through several changes in ownership with the result that from 1993 the company was controlled by the Edwards family, which is still the case.

The young 24 year old designer Rachel Bishop joined Moorcroft in 1993, as only its fourth designer in almost a hundred years and her designs become immediately popular. In 1997 the Moorcroft Design Studio was formed with eight designers, and with Rachel Bishop as head designer.

Moorcroft celebrated its centenary in 1997, marking the year that William Moorcroft joined MacIntyre as its founding date, rather than the year the company was founded.

Moorcroft is still producing art pottery in its own distinctive design style, and with astute promotion and limited edition designs including Australian flora and flora, is selling more than it did in the mid-1920’s, its previous heyday.

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Moore, Bernard

Bernard Moore (1850 - 1935) came from a family of potters.

After working with the family company Moore Bros. for almost 40 years, he founded an Art Pottery based in Longton, Staffordshire circa 1905, specialising in unusual glaze effects, especially flambe.

The factory closed in 1915.

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Moquette is a heavy woven upholstery fabric with a thick nap, renown for its hard wearing and durable qualities. Moquette is used as the upholstery fabric on the London buses and the Underground.

Mordan, Sampson & Co.

Rare Samuel Mordan & Co. novelty ivory and silver mechanical pencil in the form of a cricket bat.

Sampson Mordan (1770 - 1843) was apprenticed to John Bramah who invented an "unpickable" lock, and at the age of 45, established his own business with a partner, John Hawkins in London in 1815.

In 1822, they patented a "metal pencil with an internal mechanism for propelling the graphite 'lead' shaft forward during use", now known as the propelling pencil.

The following year, Mordan then bought out Hawkins, and entered into a business partnership with Gabriel Riddle, a wealthy stationer.

The partnership between Mordan and Riddle was dissolved in 1836 and the company continued to be run by Sampson Mordan alone.

Sampson Mordan died in 1843 and the business passed to his sons Sampson Junior, and Augustus and there were further changes in ownership, until the business was converted to a limited liability company in 1898 operating under the name S. Mordan & Co Ltd.

As well as propelling pencils, they manufactured patent locks, cedar pencils, pens, pencil holders, pin cushions, perfume bottles, vestas, inkstands, letter balances, copying and seal presses and fire proof cash and deed boxes, and the firm supplied novelty silver articles to many retailers including Asprey & Sons & the Goldsmiths & Silversmiths Co. Ltd.

Various whimsical patterns were introduced for their propelling pencils including pig and boar-shaped pencils, and horse heads, dogs, cats, fish, frogs and owls, and between 1820 and 1873, more than 160 patents were filed for various mechanical pencil designs.

The company ceased trading in 1941 following destruction of their factory by enemy bombing.

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Morris, William

William Morris (1834 - 1896) an architect designer, artist, writer, poet and social activist is regarded as a leader of the Arts & Crafts movement in England.

After studying theology, ecclesiastical history, medieval poetry and art at Oxford University, Morris began work with a firm of architects for a short period.

In 1861 he formed a company Morris Marshall, Faulkner & Co. was formed to design and produce wallpaper, carpets, tapestries and stained glass, and they initially secured ecclesiastical works, later extending to domestic assignments.

In 1874 he took sole control of the company, buying out the other partners, and renaming it Morris & Co.

The origins of his designs can be traced to medieval Gothic styles but his organic flower and bird motifs encouraged later artists to seek inspiration for their designs in nature.

Moser, Ludwig

A Moser glass vase, cased amber and green glass with cut leaf-shaped fluting, and a cameo and gilded neo-classical band depicting chariots and angels.

The Moser glassworks were founded by Ludwig Moser (1833 - 1916). He first opened a glass workshop in the centre of Karlovy Vary in the Czech Republic in 1857 and specialised in polishing, engraving, designing and making glass objects.

In 1893, together with his sons Gustav and Rudolf, he took over a glass factory in Meierhofen bei Karlsbad, so that he now operated a full service glassworks employing 400 people.

Ludwig Moser had developed a lead-free sodium-potassium glass that is more ecologically friendly than lead glass yet is extremely hard.

Within a short time he gained the reputation as the most prestigious producer of crystal in the Eastern Europe, supplying royalty and rulers such as Emperor Franz Joseph I of Austria, the Persian Shah Musaffereddine and King Edward VII of England.

Following the death of his father in 1916, Leo Moser took over the management, and the company expanded significantly with the

By 1922 the Moser company had become the largest producer of high-end drinking and decorative glass in Czechoslovakia

The company contracted during the Depression of the 1930s, and Leo Moser resigned from the company management in 1932 and then sold the family's shareholding in 1938.

The company is now publicly owned and listed on the stock exchange in the Czech Republic, where it has four outlets together with a worldwide distribution network, and the lead-free sodium-potassium glass developed by Ludwig Moser remains the basis of their products.

Mote Spoon

A mote spoon is a spoon with a perforated bowl, designed for removing floating tea-leaves from a cup of tea.

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Mother-of-pearl, technical name "nacre", is the inner layer of a sea shell. The iridescent colours and strength of this material were widely used in the nineteenth century as an inlay in jewellery, furniture, (especially papier mache furniture) and musical instruments.

In the early 1900s it was used to make pearl buttons. Mother-of-pearl is a soft material that is easily cut or engraved.

Nowadays it is a by-product of the oyster, freshwater pearl mussel and abalone industries.


Decorative strips, deriving from architectural features, that may be either applied separately to a piece of furniture or worked directly on to the carcase. Mouldings are found on cornices or pediments, around the edges of panels and drawer fronts, and around both the tops and bottoms of chests, bookcases and other cabinet furniture. Until the late 19th century mouldings were worked by hand, using a shaped moulding plane. Latterly, they have been shaped by machine.


The cast-metal fittings in brass or ormolu (a form of gilded bronze) used on much of the quality furniture in the rococo and classical revival style

Mourning Jewellery

An antique serpent mourning brooch, the serpent in a figure of eight coil, with plaited hair inlay, set to the head, a pear shaped garnet and seed pearl detail, suspending a garnet set heart pendant, in 18ct gold

In Victorian England there were strict protocols for mourning the death of a family member, relative or (in the case of servants) an employer of employer's family member. They were particularly observed by the upper classes, but followed by other classes where the apparel and accoutrements could be afforded.

Mourning protocols were mainly applied to women, who were expected to wear heavy, concealing, black clothing, together with a black crepe veil, and a cap or bonnet.

Mourning jewellery completed the ensemble.

For a widow, there were three stages of mourning, covering a period of two years or more. The first period of mourning, lasting for a year and a day, was known as "full mourning". "Second mourning" covered a period of nine months, and allowed for a slight relaxation on the colour and style of garments worn, and for mourning jewellery. "Half mourning" lasted from three to six months and more elaborate and coloured fabrics such as grey and lavender could be slowly introduced.

Different rules applied to men, children and servants, depending upon their relationship with the deceased.

When Queen Victoria’s husband, Prince Albert, died of typhoid in 1861, the Queen went into mourning, and continued mourning for the next forty years. She remained in full mourning for the first three years and dressed her entire court that way. The Victorian era reflected the Queen’s prudish ethics as well as, most visibly, her personal taste in mourning.

Although mourning jewellery predates the Victorian era, most antique mourning jewellery available in the marketplace is from the Victorian era.

One of the most popular materials used for the manufacture of mourning jewellery from the mid 19th century to the 1920s was a semi-precious black gemstone called jet. Jet was used to make traditional mourning jewellery such as watch-fobs, necklaces, rings, clasps and brooches.

The industry in producing jet jewellery was centred at the town of Whitby in North Yorkshire, where it was either collected from the beach or excavated at a number of inland locations in the North York Moors area.

The Whitby jet industry was at it's height in 1870s where it has been reported that approximately 1,500 men were employed in some 200 manufacturing workshops.

Another popular material used in the manufacture of mourning jewellery was human hair. A lock of the deceased's hair could be braided into a rope and used to make a watch-chain or a necklace, or placed inside a mourning lockets or a ring.

Other popular motifs in mourning jewellery were urns and snakes, (that symbolised eternity), skulls and skeletons.

By the 1880s photographs were being incorporated into lockets and rings, following a fashion set by Queen Victoria who included a photograph of Prince Albert in the mourning ring she wore in his memory.

The strict Victorian protocols of mourning, along with Victorian mourning jewellery, began to ease after the death of Queen Victoria in 1901.

When the queen died in 1901, traditional Victorian mourning clothes, jewellery and protocol died with her. Changing values meant that death became a taboo subject, not to be discussed in polite society. People no longer wanted to wear black and be reminded all the time, of the constant presence of death.

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The technical name for the workings of a clock or watch, and does not include the dial or case.

Mucha, Alphonse

Alphonse Mucha (1861 - 1931) was a Czechoslovakian born artist and illustrator who also worked in Paris and the United States. He is best known for his distinctively styled Art Nouveau paintings, illustrations, advertisements and designs.

He also designed jewellery, textiles furniture and smaller decorative items.

Mule Chest

A hinged and lidded trunk or chest, with two and three drawers in the base, thus combining the features of both. They were made in England from the late 16th century to the early 19th century, mainly in oak.

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A cabinetmaker's term that refers to the vertical mid-members of the framework in a panelled item of furniture. The end members are known as stiles.

Murray, Keith

Keith Murray, a moonstone vase, with a tapering cylindrical body, ribbed decoration, manufactured by Wedgwood, painted and impressed marks 'Keith Murray Wedgwood, Made in England, Matt Green'

Keith Murray (1892 - 1981) was an architect and designer of pottery, glass and furniture who was born in Auckland, and educated in Auckland and London, and is considered one of the most influential designers of the early 20th century.

During World War I he served with the Royal Flying Corps, was mentioned in dispatches five times and awarded the Military Cross and the Belgian Croix de Guerre.

After the war, still in his mid-twenties he studied architecture and graduated from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London in 1921, but unable to find work in this field led him in the short term to become a magazine illustrator, and then in the early 1930s, a full time designer of vases and table wares.

He worked as a freelance designer at Stevens & Williams of Brierley Hill in the West Midlands in 1932 and the following year commenced designing on a part time basis for Wedgwood. He also created designs in metal for silversmiths, Mappin & Webb.

His first designs for Stevens & Williams, producers of high quality art glass, proved successful, and in the next seven years he produced over 1200 designs, each of which was produced in limited quantities.

For Wedgwood, his emphasis was on the semi-matt glaze, and he designed vases, bowls and similar cylindrical ware, executed in a clean and restrained style, with minimal monochrome decoration, often limited to deeply incised lines or smooth steps in the shape.

Each piece designed by Keith Murray bore his signature above the Wedgwood mark.

In 1936 Keith Murray was appointed architect in charge of designing the new Wedgwood factory at Barlaston, Staffordshire.

During World War II, he served again in the RAF, and after the war he returned to his first profession, architecture, vacating the field of industrial design.

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A murrine is created by building up a cane or rod of glass, by plunging the rod into a coloured glass, and then into a shaped dip mould, and repeating this procedure using different coloured glasses to build up a variety of layers. When the dipping is complete a longer cane is created by stretching the glass, and once cooled, can be cut, and the pattern will be revealed in the cross-section.

Music Stand

An early 19th century mahogany music stand

An adjustable rack of chest height, used for holding sheets of music during a performance.

Wooden music stands are not readily available, and because of their scarcity, command a high price when the come onto the market.

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Musk Wood

The musk is native to Tasmania, and is found in the rainforests and wetter regions especially along river banks. It grows to a height of between five and fifteen metres, it has a musk scent. A rare timber and therefore mainly used as a veneer in the 19th-century, it is light brown in colour and furniture constructed from it is very expensive.