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.

Pad Foot

A rounded foot that terminates in in a circular base, often found at the bottom of 18th century cabriole legs. An alternative name is the club foot.


Padouk is a richly coloured dense and heavy timber, varying in colour from dark crimson to brown and red, found in Africa and Asia. It was often used as a furniture timber in India, for making furniture in the Anglo-Indian style. Padouk was also imported into England and France in small quantities in the 18th and 19th centuries, and occasionally English and French examples of furniture made of this timber come onto the market.

Pagoda Top

A shape based loosely on that of a Chinese pagoda, that is, pyramidal with sloped sides and a top cap. However there are many variations on the basic shape from a relatively flat pagoda to a tall pagoda with almost parallel concave sides to a true pagoda shape. As found on a pagoda, the pagoda top is often surmounted by a fancy finial. The pagoda top is most frequently found on the hoods of 18th century long case clocks, and on bracket clocks, and sometimes on Chinese Chippendale style furniture.

Pair Cased

A pair cased watch is one with a double case. The movement is encased, and for additional protection this is fitted into an outer case.

Palm Stand / Pedestal / Torchere

A stand, popular from the later 19th century until the 1930s, usually about a metre or more in height, for displaying potted palms and especially the aspidistra of the 1930s.. They may be of columnar form or stand upon tall splayed or curved legs, not unlike an extended cabriole leg. Some had a flat top, others had containers built in the piece to hold the pot plant. The flat top style of stand are also known as a pedestal.


A decorative motif used in the decoration of ceramics, textiles and furniture, based loosely on the palm leaf and sometimes used with the anthemion, from which it is often difficult to distinguish. The form of the palmette varies from ornate to simplistic.

Pamela Ware

"PPP", "Remued" and "Pamela" were trade names or marks used by Premier Pottery, established in Preston, a suburb of Melbourne by two Potters, David Dee and Reg Hawkins in 1929.

The company was set up to produce art pottery, unlike other [potteries of the time whose main business was in producing building materials such as bricks and roof tiles, and who produced decorative items as a sideline.

At first the pottery was marketed with the "PPP" marking and the trade name "Remued" was introduced around 1933, and used alongside the "PPP" brand.

The mark "Pamela" was introduced about the same time in an effort to convince customers that the wares marked with the "Pamela" name were created by a studio potter rather than in a factory, but this mark was in use for less than year.

Some 'Remued" and "Pamela" pieces are also marked "Hand Made".

From around 1934 the company was using the "Remued" name exclusively, and this coincided with the death of one of the founders, David Dee, and an introduction of additional capital by the future wife of Reg Hawkins, Noni Deumer, whose surname spelt backwards is "Remued".

Production at the factory continued under Alan Hawkins, with the head potter, Allan James becoming a part owner in the early 1950s.

The business continued through until the end of 1955 when the firm closed.

"Remued" wares are recognisable by their drip-glazes, use of gum leaves and gumnuts for decoration, twig-like handles on jugs, vases and bowls, and applied decoration featuring grapevines, koalas and other animals.

For a comprehensive history of Premier Pottery go to www.remued.com

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Timber pieces, usually of well-figured wood either recessed or applied over the frames of doors and as decoration elsewhere in the carcase of cabinet furniture. The panels may take a variety of shapes rectangular, square, shield shape, oval, half-round or in the form of Egyptian pylons.

Pap Boat

A shallow jug-shaped dish, sometimes with a handle, used for feeding invalids or infants in the 18th or 19th century.

Papier Mache

A substance made by combining mashed paper with glue and other hardening agents, so that, when dry, it can be cut, shaped and even carved. Invented in the 18th century, papier mache was at first used for small items such as snuffboxes and fans. With an improvement in techniques, it was used in the second quarter of the 19th century for a variety of household furnishings chairs, small tables, fire screens, coal scuttles, trays, inkstands and so on. It was frequently gilded and painted with flowers, fruits and rather sentimental scenes, and commonly inset with mother-of-pearl to achieve a jewelled effect. Given the apparently flimsy nature of the material, it is surprising just how many papier mache pieces have survived.

The best known manufacturer of papier mache was the Birmingham and London firm of Jennens and Bettridge, whose name is stamped on the underside of items manufactured by them.

Because most papier mache furniture was finished in the currently unfashionable colour of black, its popularity and consequently is value has been constrained. If the finish is scuffed, the painted decoration worn or the edges damaged, the value is further decreased

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Parasols were used by the ancient Sumerians as long ago as 3000 BC and they have been made ever since. However they did not come into use in Europe until the 16th century.

Accepted terminology is that a parasol is designed to protect the user from sunlight, while an umbrella protects the user from rain. Thus the fabric from which a parasol is made is usually not waterproof, and often of much lighter fabric than an umbrella, such as silk, cotton, nylon, gingham and lace, with ivory or wooden shafts.

Victorian era umbrellas had frames of wood or baleen, but these devices were expensive and hard to fold when wet. Englishman Samuel Fox invented the steel-ribbed umbrella in 1852, however metal ribs were known in use in umbrellas and parasols in France at the end of the eighteenth century.

Our grandmothers' parasols had a lot of use, on summer walks in the park, at the races, on or near the river.

It was apparently considered fashionable to have one's dress and parasol in matching material, with the result that the frame was continually being re-covered. Many of these nineteenth century parasols have perished or only the frames remain.

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Parcel Gilt

An item or component that is partially gilded, the purpose of the gilding being to accentuate the decoration. For example a silver vessel may have gilded highlights, or the leg of a table or chair may have gilded carvings.


Parian is a white unglazed statuary porcelain resembling marble, named after the Greek Island of Paros, which produces a very fine white marble. The Copeland & Garrett factory at Stoke-on-Trent is credited with the introduction of parian ware to Britain. Production of parian ware figures at Copeland commenced about 1841, and some of the figures were based on works by sculptors John Bell, and American Hiram Powers. Sales of parian figures were boosted by special orders from the Art Union of London commencing in 1844, where subscribers paid an annual fee, and in return participated in a ballot to receive a copy of an art work.

The increased populatiry of parian ware encouraged other factories to begin production of statuary figures, with Minton and Robinson & Leadbetter being the major producers along with Copeland.

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Parker 51

The design for the Parker 51 was completed in 1939, Parker's 51st anniversary, hence the name. There were many unique features to the 51 including the tubular hooded nib and an ink collector separate to the feed. Manufactured in a new plastic material 'Lucite', they were revolutionary. The first model was released in the USA in 1941, at a price of $12.50 and until 1948 was sold with a 'Vacumatic' filling system. In 1948 Parker introduced the 'Aerometric Filler'. This series was designated Mk 1 and was manufactured until 1972. Around 1969 a Mk II was introduced with conical ends and a slimmer cap. Later a Mk III was released, similar to the Mk II but now with a metal cap jewel and 'Injection Moulded'. Production continued until around 1980.


Parquetry is inlay laid in geometric patterns, the contrast being achieved by the opposing angles of the grain and veneers. The herringbone pattern is the most commonly used in flooring, but this is almost never seen in furniture - the patterns used are more complex and unlike flooring, can include several different varieties of timber.

Partner's Desk

A double-sided desk at which two people can sit facing each other. Usually containing drawers on either side and generally leather-topped. Sometimes described as a library desk or library table. They may take the form either of pedestal desks or conventional four-legged tables. Many such desks have survived in red cedar from Australian colonial days, for the most part preserved in banking chambers, court houses, police stations and public service offices. Such colonial government furniture dating from the later part of the 19th century is often stamped with a crown, the 'V.R.' monogram, and sometimes a date.


A parure, from the French "parer" - to adorn, is a matching set of jewellery, usually consisting of a necklace, earrings, brooch and bracelet. A demi-parure is a smaller matching set , literally 'half a parure', and could comprise any two or three of the above items, for example, a brooch with matching earrings, or a necklace with a matching bracelet.

Paste / Rhinestone / Diamante

Paste (or rhinestone or diamante) is the name given to a coloured glass composition used for imitation gemstones, or to imitation gemstones made of glass.

Although the technique of glassmaking had been known for thousands of years, but it wasn't until a lead glass with similar optical properties to diamonds were invented by a German jeweller working in Paris (either "Stras" or 'Strasser") in the early 18th century that "paste" gemstones became popular.

There was no social stigma attached to wearing imitation stones, and they were worn in situations where highway robbery was a possibility. The 18th century settings were of very high quality, equivilent to real gemstone jewellery.

In the nineteeth century the quality of paste jewellery declined and it has remained the poor cousin to genuine gemstones ever since.

Patch Box

A small, usually rectangular, sometimes oval box used mostly as a receptacle for beauty patches to disguise blemishes of the skin, especially in the 18th century.

Pate De Verre

A technique practiced in ancient Egypt from 1500 - 1000 BC, that was revived in France in the 18880s, pate de verre, which translates as "paste of glass", is a process in which glass is ground to a fine powder, mixed with adhesives, colouring agents and water to create a paste which is then mixed , placed into a mould and then reheated until molten.

The most prolific, and therefore best known practitioners include Gabriel Argy-Rouseau, Francois-Emile Decorchement and Almeric Walter.

Pate, Klytie

Born in Victoria in 1912, Klytie Pate (nee Sclater) studied drawing, painting and sculpture, and trained as a teacher in Melbourne.

Her aunt, the artist Christian Waller, influenced her interest in the art deco style and classical mythology. She married William Pate in 1937, and taught until 1945 when she resigned to become a full-time professional potter.

Pate exhibited regularly in the eastern capital cities from 1941. Her work is represented in the National Gallery of Australia, the Victorian state gallery and public and regional collections. Klytie Pate died in 2010.

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A small decorative device, used as ornament in Neo-classical style furniture. Patera (or paterae) are usually round or oval, in the form of stylized rosettes. In the best pieces they are carved directly into the timber, otherwise they applied to the surface. Sometimes painted or inlaid motifs in the style are referred to as patera.

Patination / Patina

In broad terms, patination refers to the exterior surface appearance of the timber, the effect of fading caused by exposure to sunlight and air over the course of a century or more, changing the piece to a soft, mellow colour.

As patina is very difficult to replicate, it is one of the most important guides to determining the age of furniture.

Patina is also the term applied to the bloom or film found on old bronzes due to oxidisation.

Paul De Lamerie

Paul de Lamerie (1688-1751) was born in France to a noble family that was forced to migrate to England while he was very young, to avoid persecution due to their Protestant religous beliefs.

He was apprenticed to a silversmith at age 15 and went on to become the greatest silversmith working in England in the 18th century.

Favouring the opulent rococo style, his output included centrepieces, epergnes and candelabra, made for his clients who included European royalty and members of the English aristocracy.

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Paul Kafka

Paul Ernst Kafka (1907 – 1972) was one of the most significant furniture designers and makers of the post WW II period in Sydney. Born and trained in Austria at the Vienna University of Applied Arts Kafka and his wife emigrated to Australia in 1939. By the late 1940s Paul Kafka Exclusive Furniture Pty Ltd employed over 20 tradesmen producing bespoke and custom designed and built furniture for mainly Eastern suburbs clients. In the 1960s he undertook a number of major fitout projects for the Sheraton, Chevron and Travelodge Hotels. His signature is complex inlaid wood marquetry frequently in modernist and Art Deco influenced geometric patterns. Many of his most notable designs were created working in tandem with leading Australian postwar architects including Harry Seidler (with whom he shared Viennese origins), Hugo Stossel, Hugh Buhrich and Harry Epstein. It is Kafka's built in and free standing furniture that is a feature of in what is recognised as Australia's foundation modernist home the 'Rose Seidler' house in northern Sydney. Examples of Kafka furniture and design drawings are held in the collection of the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

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Paul Storr

Pair of wine coolers by Paul Storr, in the collection of the Los Angeles County Museaum of Art. (Wikipedia Commons)

Paul Storr was the most prolific of the 19th century silversmiths, and was a master of the heavy neo-classical styles.

He went into business for himself after he completed his apprenticeship in 1796, and from 1807 was associated with the silversmithing firm of Rundell & Bridge, for whom he carried out many commissions.

He left Rundell & Bridge in 1819 and after a few years went into partnership with John Mortimer, trading as Storr & Mortimer which lasted until he retired in 1838 at the age of 68.

His workshop produced enormous quantities of silver and silver gilt in designs so heavy and robust that many objects have survived in excellent condition.

His patrons included both George II and the Prince Regent and his wares were highly sought after and remain so today.

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Paulin, Pierre

Born in Paris in 1927, Paulin is widely regarded as one of the most important twentieth century furniture designers. From a young age he had an interest in arts and crafts and went on to study clay modelling and stone carving at the Ecole Camondo in Paris before commencing work at Thonet in 1954. This early exposure to art and sculpture no doubt influenced his later free-form furniture designs when he began working with Dutch furniture maker Artifort in 1958. He was given freedom of expression and through the 1960's and 70s Paulin and Artifort were at the forefront of contemporary design. The 'Mushroom' chair was hugely innovative when it was introduced in 1960 with a tubular steel frame covered with foam. In 1968 he received the commission to refurbish the Louvre and many prestigious awards and international commissions followed throughout his working life. Highlights include the seating design for Expo ‘70 in Osaka and redesigning the private apartments and presidential office of the Elysee Palace.

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Pave Setting

Pave setting is a style of setting stones in jewellery where the small stones are placed close together in holes drilled in the metal, the burr of the metal around the stone being pressed over the edges to hold the stone in position.

Peascod, Alan

Alan Peascod was born in England in 1943.

He studied at East Sydney Technical College (ceramics) under

Peter Rushforth; Sturt Workshops, Mittagong, under Les Blakebrough; The College of Applied Art, Cairo, Egypt; and with John Reeves and Ray Finch in England in 1968.

Since that time he has travelled in the Middle East, West Gennany, Spain and England studying, in particular, collections of Islamic art in those countries.

He has also extensively researched Islamic glazes and lustre techniques.

Since 1969, he has held numerous solo exhibitions in Brisbane, Canberra, Melbourne and Sydney.

In 1972 he participated in an exhibition at the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and in 1974 in the Concorso Intemazionale delta Ceramica d'Arte at Faenza, Italy. His works were also included in the Australian exhibitions Recent Ceramics touring Europe 1980-2 and Contemporary Australian Ceramics touring New Zealand, Canada and the United States 1982-4.

A retrospective exhibition of his work organised by the Canberra School of Art Gallery toured metropolitan and regional galleries 1985-6.

He lectured in ceramics at the Canberra School of Art from 1975 until 1986 and at the Wollongong College of Advanced Education.

He was awarded a Doctorate in Creative Arts in 1995 for his research at Wollongong University.

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

Alan Peascod died in 2007.

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Peddle, George

The "Peddle" chair is unique to Tasmania, named after their maker, Geoge Peddle.

George Peddle came to Australia in 1884, aged 29 from the centre of chair-making in England, High Wycombe. He arrived in Hobart and found employment at Risby's Furniture Factory. After about four years he moved to Launcestion in northern Tasmania and set up a back room workshop in the Windmill Hill area. He moved his workshop to Launceston four years later and worked there until 1894.

His chairs were always made of blackwood, and in the style of the English Windsor chair with which he would have been familiar before he emigrated to Australia. As well as the conventional upright chairs, he also made armchairs and rocking chairs.

In 1895 he was joined by his brother in law, Harry Hearn, and they continued the craft in the North East town of Nabowla near Devonport.

Around 1900 he won a contract from the Tasmanian railways to supply chairs and Peddle chairs become a common sight on the railway stations around Tasmania.

George Peddle died in 1933.

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The columns that support many dining tables and most small occasional tables. They are usually turned, though octagonal-shaped pedestals were fashionable during the 1830s and 1840s.


A column or series of columns, of timber, marble, alabaster or metal, surmounted by a flat top, that may be used to display a sculpture, ceramic or a plant.

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Pedestal Desk

A desk with an enclosed, box-like pedestal on either side of the central kneehole section, usually containing three or more drawers or sometimes a cupboard with shelves. To enable movement through door and passage ways, they are usually made in three sections, with the writing top, containing two or three drawers, fitted separately to the two pedestals which it help to hold it secure. Pedestal desks are wider than kneehole desks and have no cupboard in the middle section where the occupant sits. Roll top desks are frequently pedestal desks with the addition of a superstructure containing pigeonholes and a slatted roll top.

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Pedestal Dining Table

Rectangular, oval or round dining tables, supported by a central pedestal column. Georgian pedestals usually had four splay legs, gracefully curved and ending with claw or bucket brass castors. The pedestal itself was slender and tapering, and the table top, usually made from one piece of timber, did not have an apron. If the edge of the top is reeded, the splay legs ought also be reeded. From the Regency period, the pedestals sometimes stood on a platform base, often with carved claw feet. After the 1820s the pedestals tended to become heavier, with bulbous rings and swellings eventually assuming the typical Victorian baluster shape. Longer tables, often with rounded ends, were supported on at least two pedestals. Those made to have extension leaves inserted, were equipped with brass clips or winding mechanism, and additional pedestals frequently provided further support.

Pedestal Sideboard

A sideboard consisting of two enclosed box-like pedestals, usually with cupboards or drawers, and a central flat serving top containing a cutlery drawer. This middle section is screwed to the pedestals to hold the piece in position. Sideboards usually have a back of some kind. Early 19th century backs were often simple brass supports, as in the traditional Sheraton sideboard. From about 1820, timber backs became more common, generally simple in form to begin with (with a triangular pediment) but becoming more ornate, often carved with Regency scrolls, foliage and other decorative devices. By the Victorian age, sideboard backs often consisted of large plate glass mirrors in a polished frame, usually carved in the manner of the Rococo revival

During the Regency period from about 1800 the pedestals were often slightly tapering in shape, and were somewhat higher than the middle serving board. Frequently the pedestals were surmounted by a pair of urn-shaped knife boxes. Subsequently, the pedestals assumed more conventional rectangular form and were of the same height as the middle section.

A wine cooler or sarcophagus was frequently placed on the floor between the two pedestals. The pedestals themselves often contained cellaret drawers, with divisions for holding wine bottles, and sometimes a compartment for a chamber pot very useful for those long dinner parties after the ladies had retired to the drawing room.

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Pedigree Dolls

Pedigree dolls were very popular in Australia during the late forties and through the fifties. They came in many sizes and styles.

They were manufactured by Pedigree Soft Toys Ltd. of the United Kingdom, which had factories New Zealand, South Africa and Australia, and was a subsidiary of the biggest toy company in the world from the 1930s to the 1950s: Lines Brothers Ltd.

Pedigree's Sindy was the great success story of the 1960s toy industry, cleverly catching the mood of the new teenage culture. Sindy, first made in 1962 by the Pedigree Company, is the best-selling 'teenage' fashion doll ever produced in Great Britain.

Pedigree, in financial difficulties, sold the Sindy licence to toy giant, Hasbro in 1986, and her popularity with modern children has now been somewhat eclipsed by her rival 'Barbie'.

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The uppermost section of a tall usually double-heightened piece of cabinet furniture, surmounting the cornice. The pediment can take a variety of forms derived from the architecture of classical antiquity. A broken pediment is of triangular shape, however, the two raised sides do not meet at the apex but are 'broken' the gap between them often ornamented with an urn or finial. Swan-neck pediments are of similar form, although the uprights are gracefully arched, resembling a swan's neck. They are often found, for example, on longcase clocks.

Pelham Puppets

A Pelham Puppets Walt Disney Pluto figure

Pelham Puppets, originally named Wonky Toys Ltd., was founded in 1947 in Marlborough, England by Robert (Bob) Pelham. They originally made small wooden toys and marionettes, but acquired the rights to make Disney character puppets in 1953.

Pinocchio was one of the most popular characters. There were also many versions of Mickey Mouse made over the years, making examples comparatively common as well.

A fire in 1961 resulted in the factory being rebuilt and at the same time the product range was reorganised. Some old lines were dropped and new ranges introduced.

Bob Pelham died in 1980, and business was continued by his wife until 1985 when it was sold. After several more ownership changes, the company went into liquidation in 1993.

The company was revived by a former employee in 2008, and it now produces a number of the old designs as well as new creations.

Early puppets generally tend to be rarer and more desirable, but some of the later puppets are the rarest as fewer were made. Condition is critical as many were produced, collectors will only pay high prices for exceptionally rare characters or for those in the best condition, preferably with a box.

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Pembroke Table

A side table with two flaps, supported on fly rails when raised. Eighteenth century Pembroke tables were usually oval in shape when opened and often decorated with marquetry inlay or painted decoration. Victorian versions tended to be more rectangular in shape and of plain polished wood.


A novelty sterling silver propelling pencil by Sampson Mordan and Co. in the form of a pig, with the retractable pencil extending from the mouth and tail, stamped 'S. Mordan and Co.', with registration mark for July 1880.

Graphite was discovered and came into widespread use for writing following the discovery of a large deposit in Borrowdale, England in 1564. It made a darker line than lead, but was soft and brittle, and required a holder.

The graphite sticks were firstly wrapped in string, but later the graphite was inserted into hollowed wooden sticks the resultant pencil being similar to those in use today.

Britain soon lost its monopoly on production of wooden pencils and they were mass-produced in Germany from the 15th century. In the mid 16th century a number of German pencil manucturers were established whose trade names are still in use today, including Faber-Castell, Steadtler and Lyra.

In 1822, Sampson Mordan (1770 - 1843) with his partner, John Hawkins patented a "metal pencil with an internal mechanism for propelling the graphite 'lead' shaft forward during use", now known as the propelling pencil.

This meant that the casing could now be metal, most commonly gold or silver, which had appeal to the increasingly affluent middle and upper classes in Britain in the 19th century.

Various whimsical patterns were introduced for their propelling pencils including pig and boar-shaped pencils, and horse heads, dogs, cats, fish, frogs and owls.

In Britain between 1820 and 1873, more than 160 patents were filed by the company for various mechanical pencil designs. The first spring-loaded mechanical pencil was patented in 1877 and a twist-feed mechanism was developed in 1895.

Some mechanical pencils only hold the graphite in position against gravity, while others are able to feed the lead through the pencil, as it wears down.

There are various mechanisms used to feed the lead through the pencil, including ratchet-based pencils in which the lead is advanced by a button on the end or the side; screw-based pencils in which the lead is advanced by twisting a screw, which moves a slider down the barrel and twist-based pencils in which the lead is advanced by twisting the head of the pencil.

Mechanical pencils are still in demand today by architects, draughtsmen and artists.

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The pendulum was discovered around 1602 by Galileo Galilei, and was adopted for time keeping by the Dutch mathematician and natural philosopher, Christiaan Huygens, who excelled in astronomy, physics, and horology.

The pendulum comprises a metal rod usually of brass or steel with a metal disk, known as a bob, at the end. The movement of the pendulum is driven by weights or a spring, and as a pendulum swings in a regular arc, it was found accuracy could be controlled to within a few seconds a week.

Timekeeping can be adjusted by changing the height of the bob on the rod, making the pendulum either swing slower or faster.

The disadvantage of the pendulum was that changes in temperature also changed the length of the pendulum, interfering with the accuracy of the clock, and so in the 18th century two types of mercurial pendulums were invented which countered the movement in the steel rod.

The pendulum was the world's most accurate timekeeping technology until the invention of the quartz clock, regulated by a quartz crystal, in 1927.

Petit, Jacob

Jacob Mordecai, who later became known as Jacob Petit, was born in Paris in 1796 and after studying art, was employed by the porcelain factory at Sèvres as a painter in 1822.

With his brother Mardochée he bought a porcelain factory in Fontainebleau in 1830, which he named using his own first name and his wife's last name of Petit, creating the name by which he became known. He later opened a workshop in Paris. By 1839 Jacob Petit employed about 200 craftsmen and was enjoying great success.

He manufactured decorative ornamental items such as statuettes, inkwells, vases, perfume bottles and clocks, and for decoration he favoured light colours such as pale pink, light green and mauve, together with black and gold for contrast.

Much of his output were copies of pieces by well known makers such as Sevres and Meissen. Many items were unmarked; those that were marked had the initials "JP" painted to the base in cobalt blue.

He died in Paris in 1868.

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Pewter is an alloy of tin hardened with small amounts of other metals such as copper, lead, zinc, antimony and sometimes silver. The craft of pewtering started in antiquity - the earliest known item, a flask dating from c1450 BC, was found in Egypt.

Pewter is believed to have been introduced to Britain by the Romans, who exploited the main source of tin in Europe at the time, which was in Cornwall. The craft fell into decline after the Romans withdrew from Britain but it is thought that the Cistercian monks reintroduced it after the Norman Conquest in AD 1066.

Known as "the poor man's silver", production spread throughout the country with a wide range of mainly domestic goods being made.

In the year 1348 Articles were granted to the Worshipful Company of Pewterers in London, which enabled them to control the quality of pewter. Two grades of pewter were specified, and then later a further grade was added, and these three grades were adhered to until the 20th century.

The 15th and 16th centuries are described as the Golden Age for pewter manufacture, a time when even grand houses used pewter as well as silver for domestic use and a time which preceded the introduction of mass-produced ceramic wares, which ultimately replaced pewter, especially plates and drinking vessels.

Even then however, the average householder was too poor to replace his wooden utensils with pewter until around the middle of the 18th century. For almost a hundred years thereafter it became the material for every day utensils and commodities.

The appeal of pewter comes mainly from its good proportions and functional design. Items from the 17th and 18th centuries are obviously much rarer than those of the 19th century, which form the basis of most collections, and when collecting pewter became popular. The century culminated in the formation of The Society of Pewter Collectors in 1918, which is still operating today, under the name of the Pewter Society.

Although ceramic tableware had largely replaced pewter by this time, tankards, mugs, beakers, candlesticks, measures and numerous small personal items were still being made, and were popular in the country. . In churches it was used to make alms dishes, plates and sacramental vessels.

In the early 20th century, the popularity of pewter was revived with the introduction of the Art Nouveau styles of Liberty's Tudric range.

There are no hallmarks on pewter, although some pewter items have a touch mark, applied by a punch and which usually include the names or initials of the maker. Touch marks have no particular value apart from interest and a guide to the maker. A touch mark bears no relation to the quality of the alloy, and does not carry the same authority as the hallmarks used on gold and silver.

When a date appears as part of the touch mark it represents the year of registration of the maker with the London Guild and not the year of manufacture, so it can't be used to date the article. However, if the manufacturer is known the piece can be dated to a certain period, somewhere between the date of registration and death of the maker.

Sometimes the makers added touch marks resembling silver hallmarks, usually four in number. These faux hall marks were not recognised by The Worshipful Company of Pewterers or supported in law.

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Phyfe, Duncan

Duncan Phyfe (1768 - 1854) is the best-known New York cabinet maker of the early and mid-19th century.

He made use of the forms and ornament of classical Greece and Rome and gave his name to the generic term for American furniture in the neoclassical style.

Duncan Phyfe style furniture was made into the mid 19th century, with a revival in the late 19th/early 20th century


An early pianoforte, circa 1802 by John Broadwood, in a pale mahogany case with ebonywood stringing, inscribed '1802 John Broadwood & Sons, Makers to His Majesty and the Princesses, Great Pulteney Street, Golden Square London.'

The forte piano (literally 'loudsoft') as it was first called, was invented in the early 18th century, but did not become popular until after about 1780, when it displaced the harpsichord as the main keyboard instrument.

Early pianos were rectangular in form, supported by a trestle base, though they were later given detachable screw legs. In the 1830s parlour pianos began to adopt the contemporary upright form, although at first the soundboard cases were very high and the fronts often decorated with pleated silk panels or fretwork.

The earliest known Australian piano, made by John Benham in about 1835, is of this type, and on public exhibition at the Mint Museum in Sydney. From around 1835 upright pianos assumed their modern form. The horizontal 'grand' pianos of course continued to be made, in form really not differing greatly, except in size, to the earlier harpsichords.

Until the middle of the 19th century, piano frames were made of wood which may shrink or warp, resulting in loss of tension on the strings and thus causing the pianos to go easily out of tune. Experiments in cast-iron frames took place in the 1820s but it was not until 1851 that the first completely iron-framed piano by the English maker, Broadwood, was shown at the Great Exhibition. Steinway followed in 1855, from which time the metal frame became gradually more standard. This is an important point for those purchasers who wish to play their pianos, rather than fill up space as decorative pieces of furniture.

Victorian pianos were elaborate affairs, often veneered in burr walnut, with richly carved front legs and usually fitted with cast brass candle sconces.

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Piano / Music Stool

A Victorian period walnut revolving piano stool with ornately carved and pierced

A seat or bench for use especially by pianists. There are two types The first type, which are mainly Victorian, and of English origin, have a circular upholstered adjustable screw seat, able to be wound up or down. They are decorative in their way, but very restricting to the performer.

The second type, popular after around 1890, were commonly made in Australia, and is of a simpler bench design, sometimes with arms, sometimes not, and the seat may or may not be upholstered. Frequently the seat has a lift up lid and a box for holding music.

Duet stools (seating two), in the bench type are rare, and in the screw type even rarer.

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Piano Hinges

A continuous hinge that occupies the full length of both surfaces.

Piecrust Edge

An edge finish, usually found on small round pedestal side table, on a tripod base, where the table top has a raised lip of alternate concave and convex section resembling, well, a pie crust. On 18th century tables, the piecrust edge should be carved from the solid top rather than be applied separately to the table.

Pier Cabinets

A small elegant cabinet, sometimes half round in shape, often with a marble top, intended for use in entrance halls and more particularly drawing rooms, where they stood in the masonry piers between the windows. Similar to a console table and usually surmounted by a pier glass.

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Pier Glass

A long, narrow mirror in a carved frame, frequently gilded, intended to hang above a pier table or console table. A separate mirror, behind the table, frequently extended to the floor.

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Pierced Decoration

Ornamental woodwork with part of the background cut through and removed to produce an open-work pattern.

Pigott, Gwyn Hanssen

Gwyn Hanssen Pigott was born in 1935 in Ballarat, Victoria.

She studied Fine Arts at the University of Melbourne, spent three years in apprenticeship with Ivan McMeekin at Sturt Pottery, Mittagong and then worked in England with Ray Finch, Bernard Leach, Michael Cardew and Alan Caiger Smith for two years.

She established her own potteries, in London in 1960, in France in 1965 and in Tasmania in 1975.

She has held solo exhibitions in London, Adelaide and Sydney.

Her work is held in the collections of the Art Gallery of New South Wales, Art Gallery of Western Australia, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, Queensland Art Gallery, Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Victoria and Albert Museum, London and Sevres Museum, France.

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A false support of square or rectangular section, deriving from the architectural forms of classical antiquity. They are sometimes found on English and European furniture imitating the classical style, but rarely used in Australia until the Renaissance revival furniture carved by such craftsmen as L.J. Harvey and his followers in the early years of this century. The world 'pilaster' is sometimes wrongly used in the antique trade to describe half-round or three quarter round columns attached to door stiles or fascia boards of furniture in the manner of the Classical Revival.

Pillows - Oriental

A 19th century southern Chinese pillow in form of a recumbent boy

When looking at the images on this page, you may think there is a mistake with the heading "pillows", but illustrated below are hard Chinese and Japanese pillows, the complete opposite of what we expect in a pillow today.

This style of pillow was in use from about the 6th century to the end of the 19th century, although the pillows on this page are from the later period. They were designed to keep the neck and head in vertical alignment with the spine, as with present day pillows, but without the head comfort of the soft pillows we use today.

The most common shape was a brick with an inverted top, but other whimsical shapes included a recumbent child lying on his stomachs, where the curved back was the head rest, cats crouching also using the back as the head rest, and mythical animals.

Most pillows are porcelain; less common are wood, hardstone, lacquer, and jade.

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Pinchbeck, an alloy of copper (about 90%) and zinc (10%), is also known as 'poor man's gold'. This alloy is named after the watchmaker Christopher Pinchbeck who invented it in the 18th century. The invention of pinchbeck allowed ordinary people to buy 'gold effect' jewellery. Those who do not look carefully may be fooled into thinking this is gold. While resembling gold when newly made, pinchbeck darkens with age and does not bear any gold hallmarks.

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The pineapple, named because of its resemblance to a pine cone, was an exotic and scarce fruit in the 18th century. It became a popular decorative motif on furniture, silver ceramics, glass and clocks during this time.

Pistol Grip

A pistol grip fish knife.

Usually found on knives, and in use from about 1730, the pistol grip handle tapers out from the blade toward the end of the implement, and then curls in the shape of the truncated handle of an early pistol.

The grip is seen occasionally on forks, and also used to describe the handles on an urn where the handle rises up from the body of the urn towards the top, but turns down before meeting the neck, leaving a gap between the neck and the handle

Plant Stand

Similar to a planter, but with a flat top on which to place the plant in its container.


A decorative cylindrical pot or box shaped container, for household plants, usually on legs, and sometimes with a cover, to conceal the trough when not being used as a planter. Victorian examples can be quite ornate with fancy veneers, gilt metal mounts and cabriole legs. Edwardian and later examples tend to be more austere,

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Platform Base

Flat-surfaced bases supporting the pedestals of dining tables and some other smaller occasional tables, including console and pier tables. Introduced during the Regency period, they continued in popularity throughout the 19th century. On tables, platform bases are usually of triform, or three-cornered shape, supported by bun, turned or carved claw feet. They may be either of veneered box-like construction, or formed from the solid timber.


The square or rectangular base of a piece of cabinet furniture, often ornamented with moulding. The plinth may be separate, as in some wardrobes or presses, and act as the support for the carcase. In a false plinth, the moulded boards may be attached directly to the piece. Furniture with a plinth base usually does not have separate feet. The term derives from architecture where it denotes the base of a column or statue.


Plique a jour, which translates from the French as “glimpse of daylight” is a method of enamelling in which the backing is removed or cut away so the light shines through, with a similar effect to a stained glass window. The enamel is held in place by border.

Although the technique of plique-a-jour has been known and in use since the 6th century, it became popular again in the late 19th century, in Russia and Scandinavia. Plique-a-jour was popular in the Art Nouveau period, especially for jewellery.

Because of the length of time required to produce an item, and the high failure rate, production was limited, and the technique is little used today.

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Plumbago Drawings

Plumbago by David Loggan, of a young man plainly dressed, noted as 'Col. James Grahame', signed and dated 1668

Plumbago drawings are finely executed graphite drawings from the 17th and 18th centuries.

These drawings were executed with the utmost dexterity and with marvellous minuteness, the fine lines expressing the intricacies of a lace ruffle or the curls of a wig being perfectly reproduced.

David Loggan (1635-1700) was one of a group of 17th and 18th century artists whose works are is remarkable for their exquisite portraits, and was a pupil of a master of the art of plumbago, Simon Van de Pass (1595-1647).

Many of these drawings may have been prepared as the source for plates for engravings. However this is not always the case, as there is one representing Charles II, set in a beautiful gold snuff box, which was given by the King to the Duchess of Portsmouth, and a similar set portrait of Cromwell. Plumbago drawings very rarely appear on the market.


Pokerwork refers to a way of decorating wood by burning a design into it. Even if the wooden object has very little burnt design, with most of the design having been painted, it is still called pokerwork. Thus, a vase may have a very small area at the top with a burnt design, and though the rest of the vase may be painted, it is still classified as pokerwork.

Pokerwork as a technique is not restricted to wood, although wooden objects predominate. The technique is straightforward: a piece of metal is heated at its tip and pressed onto or drawn across the wooden surface.

Repeated application produces a pattern. Coloured to colour the design instead of stain, and frequently stain is then rubbed into the wood that is finally have varnish applied to their surface instead of polish. polished or clear varnished. More sophisticated ways of In other words, they look like factory products instead of burning have been invented for pokerwork today, being individually made. Many Australian and Japanese including the use of a laser beam, but the principle is articles retain their original paper stickers, showing the exactly the same. manufacturer's name. look on the base for these.

Australian pokerwork has irregular burn marks. Pokerwork was very much a 'cottage industry', a real Japanese copies that have flooded the Australian folk art, practised by both men and women in their market have more regular burn marks, often have paint homes.

From: Carter's "Collecting Australiana", William & Dorothy Hall, published by John Furphy Pty. Ltd. 2005

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Pole Screen

A type of firescreen, consisting usually of a square, rectangular, oval or shield-shaped piece of tapestry or embroidery, attached to an adjustable brass or wooden stem on a tripod base. They were designed to protect the face from the fire. There were also smaller versions made, designed to stand on a table.

Another type of polescreen, usually known as a banner screen does not have a frame, but a tapestry hanging from a horizontal pole attached to the upright.

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Pollard Oak

Pollard oak, used in furniture manufacture in the 18th and 19th centuries, is harvested from an oak tree that has been regularly pollarded, that is the top has been regularly lopped to stimulate fresh growth. The new shoots results in a burr displaying in the timber.

The process of producing pollard oak from an oak tree was laborious and time had to be allowed for th tree to grow, so the timber was scarce and expensive.

Poltrona Frau

Furniture manufacturers Poltrona Frau was founded in 1912 in Turin by the Sicilian craftsman and designer Renzo Frau.

Poltrona Frau, now trading for over 100 years, built its reputation on the use of the highest quality materials, outstanding design and craftsmanship, and ongoing research and innovation in style and technique.


Made or finished in many colours. For furniture, it is used to indicated a painted finish.


The pomander was the forerunner to the vinaigrette of the Victorian era, and its use can be traced back to the Middle Ages. A pomander was a small ball made up of perfumes such as musk, and was worn or carried in a container also called a pomander.

The containers were worn around the waist or suspended from a chain or around the neck. They were of one or two compartments with a pierced silver or gold grill to allow the fragrance of the costly solid perfume or aromatic inside to be dispersed.

The substances carried inside pomanders were valued for their medicinal and protective powers against plague and other diseases. They also assisted in masking unpleasant odours.

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Pontil Mark

In handmade glass manufacture, a pontil is a metal rod, to which glass is attached while it is molton. Once the glass has cooled sufficiently it is broken away from the pontil, leaving a rough mark on the base of the object, which is an approximate outline of the glass that has been broken away. It is usually 1 or 2 cm in diameter.

In Edwardian times the pontil mark was oftern ground off leaving a concave circle in the centre of the base of the object.


A small bowl or cup with or without a lid and a single or pair of flat handles, set horizontally, and traditionally was a bowl from which children were fed. The term is derived from the French 'potager', a vessel for pottage or stew. Porringers were made throughout the 17th and 18th centuries, in silver, pewter and delftware, and revived in the late 19th century. In America the term is used to describe a shallow, one-handled dish used for blood-letting.


Pounce is a finely ground powder made from a mixture of salt, sand, talc, pumice and soapstone. It was used in the era before the invention of blotting paper and was sprinkled over wet ink to speed up the drying process. It was commonly stored in a pounce pot, a container similar to a salt shaker, but with a concave top to allow the unused pounce to be returned to the container. The containers were made wood, silver or ceramic, and were sometimes a component of an inkstand.

Pounce Pot

Pounce is a fine powder made from pine resin or cutlefih bone, that was sprinkled over wet ink to hasten the drying process and was in use from the Middle Ages to the end of the 18th century, prior to the invention of blotting paper. The pounce was usually kept in a pounce pot, a small container in wood, silver or ceramics, kept on a desk, similar to a salt shaker.

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Prayer Chair or Prie-Dieu

A low chair with a low upholstered seat and very tall back, usually padded at the top for kneeling to pray. The chairs date from Victorian times, though they generally have a vaguely Jacobean appearance, with barley-sugar twists and the back is either caned or covered in tapestry. The form derives from an earlier piece of ecclesiastical furniture.


As applied to New Zealand Maori artifacts, the artifact dates to before Captain Cook (1760s and earlier)

Prenzel, Robert

Robert Prenzel was born in Elling in Prussia in 1866 He began his career as a wood carver at the age of 14 years under Ge Bauer, from the Munich School of Art.

He worked there for four years six days a week and ten hours a day. There he studied the art of design, group placing and massing effects for light and shade. Following this, he spent four years touring Europe carving his way through many countries. He contacted the Society of Carvers in each city and produced articles mainly for church decoration such as pulpits, screens and altars.

In 1888 Robert Prenzel visited Melbourne to view the Centennial International. Exhibition and remained here to establish himself as a cabinet maker and wood carver. Prenzel commenced his work in Australia with carvings in his highly elaborate and individual version of the German Renaissance and Rococo Revival styles - working on such major projects as the carving of the ceiling and walls of the west wing of St Patrick's Cathedral, Melbourne.

Prenzel also travelled to the Western District of Victoria on several occasions, and would carve elaborate staircases from Blackwood. One such staircase is at 'Purrumbeet' a well known historic home near Camperdown. Perhaps the turning point of Prenzel's career in Australia was the commissioning of the Mathias suite, in 1906 Mrs Mathias of Montreal visited her sister and brother-in-law, Mr and Mrs Stuart Black, at their property 'Glenormiston' at Terang. The Mathias suite is lavishly decorated with floral and faunal Australian motifs. It is thought that Mrs Mathias may have requested such decoration as a memento of her visit to Australia, but when adding to the suite in 1908, it would seem that the choice of motifs came from Prenzel himself.

His carving of Australian flora was exact in many instances, and sufficiently accurate botanically for the species depicted to be easily identified. Prenzel did at times however, adapt his designs in the interest of artistic balance. Prenzel became very interested in the subjects of his Australian carvings and at his home in Black Rock in 1903 his garden had a comprehensive collection of native plants which he would use to assist him in his work.

He died in Melbourne in 1941.

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Preston Premier Potteries

"PPP", "Remued" and "Pamela" were trade names or marks used by Premier Pottery, established in Preston, a suburb of Melbourne by two Potters, David Dee and Reg Hawkins in 1929.

The company was set up to produce art pottery, unlike other [potteries of the time whose main business was in producing building materials such as bricks and roof tiles, and who produced decorative items as a sideline.

At first the pottery was marketed with the "PPP" marking and the trade name "Remued" was introduced around 1933, and used alongside the "PPP" brand.

The mark "Pamela" was introduced about the same time in an effort to convince customers that the wares marked with the "Pamela" name were created by a studio potter rather than in a factory, but this mark was in use for less than year.

Some 'Remued" and "Pamela" pieces are also marked "Hand Made".

From around 1934 the company was using the "Remued" name exclusively, and this coincided with the death of one of the founders, David Dee, and an introduction of additional capital by the future wife of Reg Hawkins, Noni Deumer, whose surname spelt backwards is "Remued".

Production at the factory continued under Alan Hawkins, with the head potter, Allan James becoming a part owner in the early 1950s.

The business continued through until the end of 1955 when the firm closed.

"Remued" wares are recognisable by their drip-glazes, use of gum leaves and gumnuts for decoration, twig-like handles on jugs, vases and bowls, and applied decoration featuring grapevines, koalas and other animals.

For a comprehensive history of Premier Pottery go to www.remued.com

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Preston, Reg

Reg Preston was born in 1917, Australia.

He studied sculpture at Westminster School of Art, London but is self-taught as a ceramicist.

His first solo exhibition was in Melbourne in 1958.

He was a founder of the Potters' Cottage, Warrandyte, Victoria in 1958, where he has taught part-time.

During the 1960s Preston and his wife produced a line of pottery under the name “Ceres".

He switched to stoneware in the mid 1960s and continued working well into the 1980s.

His work can be found in the Art Gallery of Western Australia and the National Gallery of Victoria as well as regional galleries.

Reg Preston died in 2000.

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Prince of Wales Feathers

The triple plumed crest of the Prince of Wales, showing three ostrich feathers surmounting a crown. The motif was very popular in various stylised forms with wood carvers and furniture designers during the late 18th and early 19th century.


Essentially, the size of the various parts of a piece of furniture in relation to the whole. Ideally, the proportions should be pleasing to the eye appearing neither top-heavy nor unbalanced and convenient for ordinary use.


A term used to describe the provable history of an antique or work of art, and thus an additional aid to verifying its authenticity. Provenance can have an inflating effect on the price of an item, particularly if the provenance relates to the early settlement of Australia, a famous person, or royalty. Less significant are previous sales of the item through an auction house or dealer.

Pub Chair

In the English form, it was a Windsor chair, not unlike a captain's or bow back chair, and sometimes known as a smoker's bow. The Australian pub chair has a decorative cast iron frame and wooden seat, with the weight of the cast iron presumably to deter patrons from using it as a missile or weapon.

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Pucci, Emilio

With his extremely brightly coloured geometric or wavy patterns, the designs of Italian nobleman, fashion designer and politician, Emilio Pucci (1914-1992) became iconic during the 1960s.

His instantly recognisable clothes are also immensely fashionable and wearable today and go through periods of popularity every few years.

As with many popular designs, there were copies, both contemporary and modern. Genuine pieces should include a ‘Emilio’ signature, denoting it is an authentic Pucci piece.


A purdonium is another name for a coal scuttle, usually with some type of handle on top, and has a slanted hinged lid that is raised to open it, and an inner removable metal container for the coal.

Purdonium was a trade name first used by one of the manufacturers of coal scuttles in the mid 19th century but is very little used today.

Putto / Putti / Amorino / Amorini

A putto (plural: putti) or amerino (plural: amerini) is a cherub or cupid frequently appearing in both mythological and religious paintings and sculpture, especially of the Renaissance and Baroque periods and later used as a decorative element in the design of furniture, ceramics, statuary etc. They are usually depicted as chubby males, or of indeterminate gender, often with wings. Their depiction may represent an association with love, heaven, peace or prosperity.

Pyx or Pyxis

A small round metal receptacle used to carry the Eucharist to the sick.