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.

S. Hille & Co

Set of four dining chairs, designed in 1951 by Robin Day, and manufactured by S. Hille & Co., England, with enamelled metal frame supporting a padded seat and laminated wood back rest.

The S. Hille & Co. furniture company was founded in the East End of London in1906 by Salamon Hille. The company manufactured quality reproduction Sheraton and Chippendale furniture, with the emphasis on quality rather than volume.

In 1932, Salamon Hille retired and his daughter Ray Hille took over the company. During and after World War II, timber was not available for manufacure of new furniture, unless for export, so the company concnetrated on repairing and restoring furniture with second-hand materials, and building up an export market, using new timber.

In 1949, Ray Hille, a formidable matriarch, with her daughter Rosamind and son-in-law Leslie Julius, began the collaboration with Robin Day which continued successfully for more than 20 years.

In addition to designing nearly all of Hille’s products Robin Day also took over the graphic design for Hille, including letterheads, forms, vehicle livery, and the Hille logo which with a few variations has been used for 60 years. He was also responsible for graphics, brochures, showroom designs and exhibition stands.

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Sabino Glass

The Sabino Maitre Verrier company (Sabino Master Glassmaker) was founded in Paris in 1919 by Sicilian born Marius Ernest Sabino. He grew up in France, and attended the L’Ecole Nationale Des Arts Decoratifs and Beaux Arts de Paris. His earlier production were metal chandeliers, mounted lamps and architectural accessories in moulded glass, and then after World War I he diversified into decorative objects in the Art Deco or Art Nouveau style, which he had designed.

It was in 1925 that first Sabino created the blue-hued semi-transparent opalescent glass for which the company is best known, and he expanded his business to make statuettes and figurines, both human and animal.

In the 1930s Sabino moved his production to his factory in Noisy-le-Sec in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris where production continued using the same techniques and moulds.

Limited production with the consent of the Germans continued during World War II, and when the war had finished, Sabino transferred the company's operations to his nephew and adopted son Gripoix Sabino, where production continued using the same moulds.

Marius Sabino died in 1961 and Gripoix Sabino continued production, still using the same techniques and moulds. Almost all the production was being exported to the United Sattes, and in 1978 the business was sold to Richard Choucroun, the company's American agent, trading as "Sabino Crystal Company".

The "Sabino Crystal Company" is based in Houston Texas and still selling the same blue-hued semi-transparent opalescent statues and decorative items that were were fist made in the late 1920s.

Earlier Sabino glass is usually signed "Sabino Paris", "Sabino France" or "Sabino", either in engraved cursive script, or if moulded, in uppercase. A catalogue raisonne of Sabino's work by Philippe Decelle, "Sabino - Catalogue Raisonne Sabino - Maitre Verrier D'l'Art Deco 1874-1961" was published in 1978.

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Sabre Leg

The sabre leg is commonly associated with chairs made in the Regency or classical revival manner of the early 19th century. The form was copied from designs of the ancient Grecian chair known as a klismos found on painted classical vases. The characteristic of the sabre leg is a wide, sweeping backward curve which was frequently reeded, similar to a sabre. The sweep of the front legs was sometimes complemented by a corresponding curve in the back legs of the chair, though on most domestic furniture the sweep of the rear support was not as pronounced. Sabre legs are often encountered in reproductions of the regency style. They are uncommon in Australian furniture where, by and large, colonial craftsmen preferred to use turned legs.

Saddle Seat

A saddle seat is a chair with a solid wooden seat, with two shallow depressions separated by a slight central ridge, suggestive of the shape of a saddle. However the term has been applied by designers and auction cataloguers to a wide range of seat shapes.

Sally Tuffin

Sally Tuffin came into ceramics from a background in fashion design. In the early 1960's she was the other half of 'Foale & Tuffin', one of the trendiest labels in Carnaby Street, London.

She turned to ceramics in 1972 when her retailing partnership was dissolved and in 1985, with her husband, Richard Dennis, launched The Dennis China Works to make ceramics for collectors.

In 1986, Richard Dennis and a partner purchased the ailing Moorcroft pottery and over the next six years Sally Tuffin's designs injected new life into the pottery.

Sally and Richard Dennis re-started the Dennis China Works in 1993 after reviving Moorcroft pottery for the previous six years.

Sally Tuffin's designs are influenced by the arts and crafts movement and nature. All pieces are signed and numbered.


A plate or tray used for the formal offering of food, drink, letters or visiting cards, usually of silver plate, silver or silver-gilt. Large, heavy, oblong or oval silver salvers evolved into what we know as trays in the 18th century. Small, flat salvers are known as waiters.


A needlework sampler by Caroline Ward, dated August 17, 1824, with the alphabet and numerals and initials of her parents and five siblings.

Samplers can be found dating back to the 16th century, but most samplers date from the 19th century, although 17th and 18th century examples can be found.

Their purpose was to teach girls from as young as 9 or 10 and young women a variety of sewing stiches through instruction and practice, in the era before examples were available in printed magazines and books. They also were an aid to teaching the embroiderer the alphabet and numerals - most samplers include both of these in the lower section.

Samplers often carry the name of the embroiderer and the date. Sometimes the age of the embroiderer is given and occasionally the name of her house or school. This information adds interest to the piece, and can also affect the value, particularly if it verifies that the sampler was completed in Australia.

Samplers were sewn on linen and wool or silk threads were used for the embroidery.

Coloured silk samplers tend to command the highest prices, particularly when combined with raised work and metal threads, such as gold or silver, which would only have been used by the wealthy.

Moth holes, tears, disintegration or faded colours will affect value and the edges of the sampler, where the material has been stretched, should be checked for damage. If the sampler is no longer in its original frame, the value will be reduced.

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Sandalwood is a heavy, yellow coloured and very fine-grained timber, which has a fragrance which lasts for many decades, and acts as a deterent to moths and insects.

In the British colonial era, sandalwood was imported into Britain from India, and the wood also used within India for the manufacture of Anglo-Indian furniture.

Becasue it does not have a distinct grain pattern, sandalwood was not used for the exterior surfaces of furniture, but was put to use for drawer and box linings, where the aroma was noticeable one the object was opened. it was also used to manufacture small objects (treen).

Nowadays sandalwood is commercially grown with Australia the largest producer. As well as producing timber, oil is extracted for use in the manufacture of perfumes.


Flambe glazes, termed "sang-de-boeuf" (ox blood) were in use by the Chinese from the 11th century, and the effect was achieved by using copper oxide as a colouring agent and firing the object in a reducing atmosphere.

In the 18th century the red glaze often accumulated on the shoulders of vases and bowls, reproducing the effect of coagulated blood. Sometimes the glaze was often slightly streaked, or included blue bleeds and wares with these features were prized by collectors in the 19th century.

European potters were not able to master the technique until the early 20th century. The Royal Doulton company employed the potter Bernard Moore, who had been experimenting with flambe glazes for many years, as a consultant and they were able to produce their first flambe wares in 1904.

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Satinwood is a dense pale gold coloured timber that was imported into Britain in the second half of the 18th century, and early 19th centuries from the East Indies and the West Indies. The name derives from the satin-like surface sheen when the timber is polished.

It was used in the solid, as a veneer and in inlays. As well as furniture, satinwood was used for making musical instruments, barometers, boxes and clocks.

It will usually be found on only the very best quality objects, presumably because of of its cost at the time.


A creature from Greek mythology with goat-like features, including a bearded face and horns, a man's torso, hairy legs and cloven hooves and a tail. As attendants of Bacchus, satyrs sometimes carry grapes or pitchers of wine. As spitis of fertility they may carry a cornucopia or basket of fruit.

They are also used to portray lust, and are often depicted with a leering expression. As well as being depicted singly or in a group in sculpture and candelabra, they also appear as motifs on ceramics, glass, silver and gold objects.

Sauce Boat

Sauce boats, also called gravy boats, are a small jug form object used for serving sauces and gravy as indicated by the name. They were made in silver, silver plate or ceramics became fashionable in the early 18th century. Early suaceboats were usually plain and of oval shape, with a solid oval foot.. In the later Georgian period they became more elaborate, with the metal examples decorated with chasing and engraving, and a three-footed base, and sometimes available in pairs. Ceramic suaceboats were often part of a dinner service, and some of the ceramic sauceboats have an attached plate, its purpose being to catch drips and dribbles.

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Savanarola Chair

The Savanarola chair or "X" chair originated in medieval Italy and the style spread through Europe especially Spain. Production in the Renaissance style continued to the 19th century, sometimes with carved decoration to the back and arms. Some versions folded, whilst others were rigid. They often had a wooden seat, which accommodated a cushion for comfort.

Contrast this with the English Glastonbury chair, a type of folding chair, where, from a side view, the legs form an "X". They were supposedly named after a design of a similar chair by the Abbot of Glastonbury in the16th century.


A process used in architecture, and manufacture of objects, where various colours of marble chips were embedded into a cement mix, which was usually white, in imitation of marble. Usually there was no pattern followed; the chips were embedded randomly unlike pietra dura which as well as incorporating semi precious stones, was usually laid out in a geometric or naturalistic pattern.

The process had been known since Roman times but was revived in Italy in the 17th century. Scagliola was incorporated into the interior design of some important English houses in the early 18th century and Italian crafsmen were brought over to install the material.

Scagliola was also used to make table tops, columns, pedestals and busts.

Scallop / Shell Motif

As the scallop shell is symetrically proportioned, it has been used as the basis of a shell design on all types of furniture and decorative arts from the 17th century onwards. Scalloped edges or ridges refers to a wavy pattern reminiscent of the edge of a scallop's shell, sometimes seen on ceramics.

Scarab Beetle


Scent Bottles

In Victorian days scent bottles were often made of pressed glass, with silver or silver-plate rims and cut glass or imitation cut glass stoppers.

Generally, the customer purchased the bottle empty and had it filled by a chemist or perfumier, as ready filled bottles of perfume were not yet on the market.

The variety of shapes was enormous. The larger scent bottles were made in the shape of flagons or decanters. In the 1870s a new design appeared, the double ended bottle. This was a slim cylindrical bottle with a round or polygonal surface. Some were produced in clear glass, some coloured dark blue, red, green, or yellow, and some were decorated in the Nailsea style. At each end were silver or plated caps, which were heavily chased or moulded. One half of the bottle was for scent and usually had a screw cap, while the other end was hinged, often spring loaded for fast access, and was for smelling salts.

Some bottles hinged in the middle, and when you opened them there was the grating of a vinaigrette on one side and on the other a recess with a glass-covered photograph. The outer ends had normal hinge- or screw-caps so that either part of the bottle could be filled with scent.

The production of scent bottles continued into the twentieth century, though it became more customary to buy scent in ready-filled bottles from cosmetic houses. These 'package' bottles in themselves have become the object of much decorative skill, and no doubt in the not too distant future they will be sought after by collectors.

Some manufacturers supplied scent bottles with rubber bulbs, which could be attached to the top of the bottle to produce a fine spray of scent. Although some types of scent bottle can be expensive, there are still many examples available at a reasonable price.

Schneider / Le Verre Francais

A Charles Schneider orange, blue and yellow cameo glass vase, circa 1930, signed Le Verre Francais, 41 cm high.

The Verrerie Schneider company (Schneider Glassware) was founded in 1911 in Epinay-Sur-Seine, in the northern suburbs of Paris in 1911, by brothers Ernest and Charles Schneider, who had trained and worked for both the Galle and Daum companies. It was Charles who took up the position of glass designer and technician for the company, while his brother looked after the administration including accounting and promotion.

The began producing cameo glass in the Art Nouveau style, vases with applied handles in contrasting colours and art glass.

In 1918, Galle’s studios were destroyed by fire and a number of his artists moved to Schneider’s factory to continue their work for Galle. Here they taught Schneider the decorative technique of ‘marqueterie de verre’, where coloured glass shapes are pressed into glass of a different colour to form a pattern or image.

After the 1925 Paris Exhibition, Schneider’s factory, now operating under the name Verrerie Schneider, expanded enormously and took on commissions from shops and perfumeries such as Coty, and by 1926 the Verrerie Schneider company was the largest glass producer in France.

The company produced cameo glass, but rather than using the wheel-cut technique, specialised in acid etching to remove the top layers. This was marketed under the "Le Verre Francais" signature, usually inscribed towards the base of the object in script.

Some items also have an additional signature, "Charder", a contraction of CHARles SchneiDER, which most likely indicates the object was of his design.

Other internally decorated objects, or items with applied decoration are signed "Shneider".

The Verrerie Schneider company also manufactured for a number of retailers, and the objects bear the names: "De Baker", "Finnigans", a Manchester based UK silversmith and retailer and "Ovingtons", a decorative arts specialty store in New York.

By the time of the death of Ernest Schneider in 1936, fashions had moved away from the highly decorative coloured glass of the 1920s, and the Verrerie Schneider company commenced producing the clear glass shapes that were being made by the Scandinavian glass makers.

During World War II the company's works were badly damaged and it ceased production in 1940. Following the end of the war, in 1949 Charles Schneider's son, Charles Schneider, Junior led the rebuilding, and the renaming of the company to "Cristallerie Schneider". Charles Schneider died in 1953, and the company ceased operations in 1981.

School of ....

In the opinion of the cataloguer, a work by a pupil or follower of the artist.

Scratch Built

A scratch built model is one that is built "from scratch", i.e. from the raw materials, rather than one purchased and built from a kit of parts, or purchased pre-assembled.

Scroll Legs

are in the form of an elongated scroll or 's' shape, from which the cabriole leg also derived. Scroll legs, however, are usually rather more substantial and are frequently found supporting side tables and hall tables throughout much of the 19th century. As a rule, the back legs of such tables intended to remain against the wall were flat and rectangular.


Serpentine-shaped forms, used in cabinet construction and decoration for centuries. The scroll appears in legs, feet, as carving in chair brackets, chair rails and arms. The deeper and more spontaneous the carving is, the earlier the piece is likely to be. The Regency or 'Thomas Hope' scroll, used on pediments and sideboard backs, consists of two scrolls on the horizontal plane, placed back to back in a mirror image, and sometimes decorated with a variety of carved and/or applied ornament, such as shells, foliate and other motifs. Chippendale-style furniture is often distinguished by two corresponding scrolls in the form of a 'C' in the upper splat or where chair legs join the seat rail.

Seaweed Marquetry

Marquetry of Italian origin having the form of symmetrical, foliate or twining scrolls, as seen on English cabinetwork of the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Seccombe, Grace

Grace Povey Seccombe (nee Capper) (1880-1956), was born in the potteries district of England, at Tunstall in Staffordshire in 1880.

Her father was a potter and Grace followed in his footsteps before the family migrated to Sydney in 1902.

She studied black and white drawing at Sydney Technical College, and then married and it wasn't until 1926 that she took up art in a professional capacity, concentrating on the manufacture of hand-painted earthenware.

She worked from a modest studio that was part of the family home in the Sydney suburb of Eastwood, making use of the local clay.

She had become a member of the Sydney Society of Arts and Crafts in 1930 and exhibited with the society until 1951.

After her first major exhibition in 1931, staged by the Society of Arts and Crafts, she was contracted to sell her work through the Sydney jewellers Prouds Ltd. stores. She also sold through the Blaxland Gallery at the former Grace Bros in Broadway and the Taronga Zoo gift shop.

During the 1940s Seccombe became known for her small hand-modelled, brightly painted pottery birds and animals. Her early kookaburras and other birds and animals of the 1920s are marked 'Australia’ and 'S’.

The range of Australiana fauna she modelled in the 1930s and 1940s for Prouds Ltd are either initialled 'GS’ or signed 'Grace Seccombe Australia’ on the base.

She also designed plates, dishes and bowls decorated with Aboriginal motifs in the 1930s and 1940s.

Grace Seccombe died on 25 February 1956.

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Secondary Timbers

As indicated by the name, these are less expensive and thus lower quality timbers used in the construction of an item in surface areas that may not generally be seen, such as backboards, or as the ground for veneers, drawer linings or for framing.


A French term for a type of bureau desk in translation a 'secretary'. Like a bureau, it has a drop front that pulls out to reveal a writing surface, small drawers and pigeonholes. Its front, however, is usually disguised as a drawer which, when let down, is supported on semicircular brass slides known as quadrants. The secretaire may have either cupboards or drawers beneath the writing desk.

Secretaire Bookcase

A double-heightened piece, dating from the second half of the 18th century. It consists of a secretaire in the lower section, the upper part being a glass-fronted bookcase. Very useful pieces of furniture, they were made until Edwardian times.

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Seguso, Archimede

Archimede Seguso, Feathers Vase , c1956, retains two decal labels, height 20 cm

Archimede Seguso (1909-1999) was apprenticed to his father, Antonio, in the glass-house La Vetreria Artistica Barovier where his father was a partner. Working alongside the designers Vittorio Zecchin and Flavia Poli, Archimede Seguso acquired impressive manual skills at the furnace resulting in a vibrant glass-house.

By twenty, Archimede Seguso was a true glass maestro and by 1945 had established his own glass-house.

In 1957 he revived his earlier models of animals in opalescent glass with delicate stripes.

By birth, by training, by his working life, by the way in which he lives the art of glass, he embodies the qualities that have characterlsed Murano culture and that over the centuries have determined the professional and social prestige of the master glass worker (Rosa Barovier Mentasti, I Vetri Di Archimede Seguso, 2002).

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Resembling a serpent, in the form of an elongated 'S'. A serpentine front is similar to a bow front, except that the curve is shallow at each end, swelling towards the middle. The term presumably derives from its similarity to a moving snake or serpent. Serpentine fronts are usually veneered, with the carcase either being cut and shaped from a solid piece of timber, or built in the 'brick' method.


A long couch dating from the late 17th century, similar to a sofa with arms at either end. Unlike the upholstered sofa, however, the settee usually has a shaped wooden splat back, similar to dining chairs. In Australia, any small couch is sometimes known as a settee.

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Settees and Sofas

An upholstered couch, based on the 18th century French canape, often with a high back and shaped front, usually standing upon cabriole, turned or sabre legs. Distinguished, perhaps, from the full stuffed over couch, the sofa usually had a band of polished show wood around the seat, back and arm frames. During the Regency, many sofas were made based on the principles of the Classical Revival. Such sofas are noted for their deeply scrolled arms and curved sabre legs, usually reeded. Their influence can be traced through the many colonial day beds and miner's couches, however humble by comparison, made during the later part of the 19th century.


Usually made of oak, a settle is a long wooden bench, distinguished by a high back and usually with timber wings to ward off draughts. Settles were generally placed by the large open fireplaces in country houses and inns. Some had drawers beneath the seat, others had a lidded seat with a storage chest below. Settles date from medieval times, though few have survived that were made before the 17th century.

The settle is a provincial or country piece of furniture and was not made by major London or provincial cabinetmakers.

The form was revived in Australia in the early 20th century, with acknowledgment to the styles of the times.

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Sewing Machines

A 1790's patent by the English cabinetmaker Thomas Saint promised to stitch boots and do quilting but was probably never made.

Tangible success did not come until the Thimmonier machine patented in 1830 which was used for making French army uniforms in his shop a decade later. The mqachine was destroyed by angry tailors fearing for their livelihoods.

The American, Elias Howe, Junior drew on earlier discoveries to develop what is regarded as the modern machine.

It was subsequently refined by Isaac Singer of New York and in 1851 he patented and gave his name to, the ubiquitous brand of sewing machine.

It is generally held that the sewing machine was the first domestic mechanical aid to be mass-produced.

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Sewing Table / Work Table

Originally, ladies small work tables, usually with a detachable or lift-up lid, containing a bag or basket of silk, in which sewing and other needlework could be stored. There was generally a tray beneath the lid containing compartments for cotton, thread, needles and so on, and beneath that a well, with a lined interior and the exterior in either timber or fabric.

There are also combination sewing tables that may include a chequer-board top, or a hinged top that opens for games. These tables may have a drawer under the top, with the compartments for sewing equipment, and the well sliding out from under the drawer frame.

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In ceramics, sgraffito is a scratched or incised decoration through the slip, applied to the body of the object before glazing, to reveal the colour of the body underneath.


Shagreen is the untanned smoothly pebbled textured skins of rays, sharks or dogfish. In finishing, it is dyed, mostly green, but the colour often fades to a cream colour. Shagreen was a popular material in Europe during the Art Deco era, when designers sought to mould the French tradition of luxury with exotic and precious materials. Most collectable items made from shagreen are smaller objects, like glasses cases, dagger and sword hilts, dressing accessories, boxes and picture frames.


In jewellery, the shank of a ring is the hoop which encirles the finger.

Sharp, Martin

Martin Sharp is a Sydney artist well known for his support and promotion through graphic posters, of amongst others, Tiny Tim, Luna Park and Arthur Stace, the 'Eternity Man'.

In the early 1960s along with Richard Walsh and Richard Neville he started the controversial underground satirical magazine 'Oz' and provided many of the graphic illustrations.

In the late 1960s he designed iconic psychedelic album covers for Donovan's 'Sunshine Superman' and Cream's 'Disraeli Gears' as well as psychedelic posters for Bob Dylan and Jimi Hendrix.

In 1970 on his return to Sydney he set up the 'Yellow House' exhibition space at 59 Macleay Street, Potts Point which was based on the idea of a community of artists in the way of Van Gogh's Yellow House at Aries.

Artists involved included George Gittoes, Peter Powditch, Peter Kingston and Brett Whiteley.

Sheffield Plate

Sheffield Plate was the first commercially viable method of plating metal with silver. The method of plating was invented by Thomas Boulsover, a Sheffield Cutler, in 1743 and involved sandwiching an ingot of copper between two plates of silver, tightly binding it with wire, heating it in a furnace and then milling it out in to sheet, from which objects could be made.

Originally used by its inventor to make buttons, the potential of the material was quickly realised, and soon it was being used to fashion boxes, salvers and jugs, and not long after that candlesticks and coffee pots, and other traditional tableware.

Although there was a considerable saving in the amount of silver used, Old Sheffield Plate manufacture was more labour intensive than solid silver, meaning higher labour costs. This meant that Old Sheffield Plate was very much a luxury product, and only available to the very wealthy.

The thickness of the silver means that many 18th century Sheffield Plate pieces still have a good layer of silver, while electroplated pieces (EPNS), may have been replated several times over their lifetime. Where the silver has worn off the Sheffield Plate the soft glow of the copper base can be seen underneath. However this is not an infallible guide that the piece is Sheffield Plate, as many EPNS items were also plated on to a copper base.

Most Sheffield Plate items are unmarked, whereas most elecroplated items display manufacturers names or marks, quality indications such as "A1", "EP", together with pattern or model numbers.

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Sheffield Plate

Sheffield plate was the first commercially viable method of plating metal with silver. The method of plating was invented by Thomas Boulsover, a Sheffield Cutler, in 1743 and involved sandwiching an ingot of copper between two plates of silver, tightly binding it with wire, heating it in a furnace and then milling it out in to sheet, from which objects could be made.

Originally used by its inventor to make buttons, the potential of the material was quickly realised, and soon it was being used to fashion boxes, salvers and jugs, and not long after that candlesticks and coffee pots, and other traditional tableware.

Although there was a considerable saving in the amount of silver used, Old Sheffield Plate manufacture was more labour intensive than solid silver, meaning higher labour costs. This meant that Old Sheffield Plate was very much a luxury product, and only available to the very wealthy.

The thickness of the silver means that many 18th century Sheffield Plate pieces still have a good layer of silver, while electroplated pieces (EPNS), may have been replated several times over their lifetime. Where the silver has worn off the Sheffield plate the soft glow of the copper base can be seen underneath. However this is not an infallible guide that the piece is Sheffield Plate, as many EPNS items were also plated on to a copper base.

Most Sheffield plate items are unmarked, whereas most elecroplated items display manufacturers names or marks, quality indications such as "A1", "EP", together with pattern or model numbers.

Sheffield plate was made commercially between 1750 and 1850.

Shiga, Shigeo

Born in Japan in 1928, Shiga is a ceramic artist who studied and worked in Japan before arriving in Australia in 1966 to work at the Sturt Workshop in Mittagong, and then at the Talofa Workshop in Sydney .

He later set up his own workshop in the semi rural Sydney suburb of Terrey Hills and lectured in ceramics East Sydney Technical College, and at the University of New South Wales, before eventually returning to Japan with his Australian wife in 1980.

Shiga has exhibited widely and his work is represented in the Australian National Collection, several state galleries and institutional collections. Shigeo Shiga died in February 2011.

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There are several distinct types of sideboard. The Georgian sideboard was a long narrow table, fitted with cutlery drawers and cellaret cupboards, used as a serving table in dining rooms. Most examples are at least five feet long.

Although sideboards date from the mid-18th century, their development is usually associated with the designs of Sheraton. Sideboards may be straight fronted, curved at either end, or sometimes have a recessed breakfront. The latter was partly to lighten the effect of a large piece of furniture and partly, writes Sheraton, 'to secure the butler from the jostles of the other servants'.

The central portion of the sideboard, beneath the long drawer, was usually arched with semicircular lunettes, either carved or often strung. The legs were sometimes turned, but more generally were tapered, often standing on spade or block feet. Georgian sideboards always have six legs one at each corner, one on either side of the central recess. Four legged sideboards were not introduced until the second decade of the 19th century.

Sideboards were usually made of well-figured mahogany or, in Australia, cedar or beefwood veneer, though very few colonial examples appear to have survived. They were sometimes cross banded, strung and inlaid with decorative panels of contrasting timber.

Another type of sideboard appeared in the late 19th century, based more or less on the Renaissance revival forms associated with designers Talbert and Eastlake. It consisted of a two-door cupboard, usually panelled and carved, with a mirrored back, containing shelves and a hutched or overhanging cornice, supported by turned or carved columns.

There are many variants, but the lines and angles were much squarer, handles were often of pressed metal alloy, and by the time the sideboard reached its full Edwardian flowering, it often boasted broken or swan-neck pediments, reeded and fluted decorations, and shallow machine-made carvings of shells, rosettes and other foliage.

The style continued to be made in mahogany, oak, maple, pine or cedar until after the first world war. During the 1920s, and under the influence of the modern movement, furniture forms became much simpler and less cluttered, taking on the characteristics pioneered by the Arts and Crafts designers a third of a century before. It should always be remembered that it may take a generation before an original design, breaking with tradition, becomes fully established in popular taste.

From around 1900 the size of sideboards began to decrease, in order to fit the smaller dining rooms of the day, although this example would still require a substantial room to display it properly.

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Signed or Stamped

A signed piece of furniture may mean that the maker has signed (and hopefully dated) the piece in the same way that we sign a cheque, but more likely, that it bears evidence of the name of the maker, wholesaler or retailer as a paper label, metal plaque, impressed into the timber or in later pieces after about 1880, stamped onto the timber with an ink stamp.

The 'signature' or stamp will always be in an unobtrusive position: under the top of a table, on the underside of the rails of a chair, inside a drawer or on the back.

The fact that a piece is 'signed' considerably enhances its value. Signed Australian furniture is extremely rare, and for imported furniture, it is a mark of quality of the item, as only the items by the top makers or retailers were 'signed'

Silver Beakers

Usually of tapering cylindrical shape and without handles, silver beakers have been made from the 17th century onwards, but most examples appearing on the Australian market date from the mid Victorian period to the 20th century. They were popular as trophies for masculine sporting events.

Other shapes are the bell shape which has a flared top, and the half-barrel shape. Some beakers have embossed and/or chased decoration.

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The words dexter and sinister are commonly used in heraldry, but have a more general application in the world of antiques and collectables (mainly sculpture and numismatics) to describe the position of the head of the subject. Dexter, which is Latin for right means the subject is looking to their right, while sinister, which is Latin for left, means the subject is looking to their left.


In furniture, the skirt is a strip of wood underneath the top or front of the item. On chairs, the skirt is the support under the seat joining the legs, while on tables, the skirt is the support under the top, that assists in supporting the top and also joins the legs. On carcase furniture such as chests and cabinets, the skirt is the timber strip immediately under the drawers or cupboard.

Slater, John / Slater's Patent

John Slater (1844 - 1914) was the Art Director at Doulton & Co. Burslem from 1887 until his death in 1914.

He studied at the Stoke-on-Trent School of Design and worked at Minton and then Pinder, Bourne & Co., before moving to Doulton & Co. when Pinder, Bourne & Co. was acquired by that company.

As well as being a painter who signed his works, he was involved in the development of many of the special glazes used by Doulton, including rouge flambe, and for a number of patents relating to transfer printing from photographic plates onto ceramics.

Some works are marked "Doulton & Slaters Patent", a process which involves the use of lace fabrics impressed into the surface of clay as a decorative technique.

Sleep Eyes

On a doll, sleep eyes are eyes made from glass or a similar material that are open when the doll is upright, and closed when the dollis horizontal.

Sleigh Bed

As the name implies, a sleigh bed is postless bed with the foot and head boards of an "S" shape, similar to that of a sleigh. In France it is an Empire style bed known as a "lit en bateau". Sleigh beds are still being made and sold at the present time.

Slipware Pottery

When people think of how pottery is made, they usually imagine clay being thrown on a wheel. This is still a common method used by studio potters, together with coiling and carving. However, these techniques are time-consuming and so for factory production, a quicker and cheaper method is essential. Such a method is slip casting.

In slip casting, a clay slurry is poured into a plaster of Paris mould. When the clay has dried, the mould is taken apart and the pot allowed to dry further. It may then be fired, decorated and glazed.

Most factory produced mid 20th century pottery was slipware. Huge quantities were maufactured for the 'popular ornaments' market.

Smith, Penny

Penny Smith was born in 1947 in Germany.

She obtained a Bachelor of Design from the High Wycombe College of Art and Technology at High Wycombe, Buckinghamshire, England and Master of Fine Art from the University of Tasmania, Hobart.

She is self-trained as a potter. From 1980 she lectured in the ceramics department of the University of Tasmania and was appointed head of the studio in 1984, where she is currently a Research Fellow.

Her first solo exhibition was held at Salamanca Place Gallery in Hobart in 1970.

Her work can be found in the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, National Gallery of Victoria, and other regional and state galleries.

Smoker's Bow

A form of Windsor chair, similar to a Captain's chair or pub chair.

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A device for extinguishing a candle, usually made of silver or silver plate, and sometimes ceramic.

There are two types, the first in the shape of a cone that is placed over the the top of candle and smothers the flame, also known as an extinguisher. The cone shaped snuffer may be part of a candlestick or have its own stand. The second type is similar to a pair of scissors with a small box on one of the blades into which the wick falls when it is cut.

Prior to the invention of snuffless candles in the 1820s, this type of snuffer was used to trim the wick of the tallow candles (also called "snuffing") that were in use at that time, so that they did not become too long. With the snuffles candle, the newly developed plaited wick bent into the flame as it burnt, and was fully consumed.

This type sometimes comes with an accompanying stand or tray.

However the two components may have been separated, and a new name found for the snuffer tray, such as a pen tray.

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Soapstone is a soft rock, that has been carved by the Chinese for centuries, and is still being carved today. The name derives from the soap-like feel that some of the softer grades of soapstone have.

The softness of the rock is due to talc in its composition, and the amount of talc can vary from 80% (very soft) to about 30%. On the Mohs scale of hardness, soapstone has a hardness of 1 to 5, whereas jade has a hardness of 6 to 6.5. It is often possible to scratch a piece of soapstone with a fingernail or knife blade.

Because of continuing production over several centuries, it can be difficult to date soapstone carvings, and there are many that were made for the tourist market.

Soapstone carvings are generally not expensive and the quality of the carving and the size and colouring of the soapstone contribute to the determination of value.

Colours of soapstone can vary and include off-white, red, green and brown.

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The short plinth, usually cylindrical, that serves as a pedestal for a sculpture or vase

Sofa Table

A long, rather narrow table with drawers and a flap at each end supported by fly rails. Sofa tables are mostly supported by two pedestals which may be turned, of lyre shape or square section standing on splay feet. Originally the tables were placed in front of the sofa for reading or writing. Modern practice is often to place them behind a sofa or to use them as occasional tables elsewhere in a room. Nineteenth century sofa tables sometimes omitted the flaps.

Soft Paste Porcelain

Porcelain is an ancient ceramic material, first made in China, hence the common name "china", and the process was unknown in the West.

European potters attempted to replicate Chinese porcelain, without knowing the ingredients in its composition, and the earliest wares were produced with mixtures of clay and ground-up glass (frit), the idea being that the glass would give the porcelain translucency.

It was given the name "soft" because it did not remain rigid, but "slumped" when fired in the kiln at high temperatures.


A method of making cased glass developed in Murano in the 1930s, where one or more layers of transparent coloured glass is encased within a layer of thick clear colourless glass.

Sottsass, Ettore

Sottsass Associati Lipari Table manufactured by Zanotta, Italy; circular Abet print laminate top with steam bent beech edge supported by an anthracite ceramic base.

Ettore Sottsass, the most eminent designer of the 20th century, was born in Innsbruck, Austria, in 1917, and studied architecture in Turin, graduating in 1939.

During World War II he served in the Italian military, spending much of his time in a prisoner of war camp in Yugoslavia.

After returning home, he opened his first studio in Milan in 1947.

Ettore Sottsass become a creative consultant to Polotronova, a furniture manufacturer near Florence in 1957, and then worked as a design consultant for Olivetti from 1958 to 1980. He designed the Elea 9003 calculator and the popular portable red 'Valentine' typewriter, released on Valentine day 1970, and whose features included a carriage that dropped to the level of the keyboard and a storage case

In the 1970s, Ettore Sottsass was hired by Alessi and he designed various items for the company, such as cutlery, condiment sets, plates and other kitchen equipment. He also designed a vase and a decanter for Baccarat; several collections of tables and chairs for Knoll, and a number of silver-plated geometric design candlesticks for Swid Powel.

In the late 1970s, Ettore Sottsass was working with Studio Alchymia, a group of avant garde furniture designers, but he split with them in 1980 to become a founder and a leading member of Memphis, the Milan design group. Memphis exhibited its brightly coloured postmodern furniture, lighting and ceramics made of acrylic, aluminium and tropical wood from 1980 to 1988.

Ettore Sottsass had departed the group in 1985 and formed Sottsass Associati, an architecture and design group where he worked with former Memphis members and younger designers.

He returned to architecture in the mid 1980s when he was commissioned to design a chain of shops for Esprit, a series of private houses and public buildings, including Malpensa 2000 airport near Milan.

Sottsass Associati has also worked for Apple, NTT, Philips and Siemens.

Towards the end of his life a number of museums and galleries presented retrospectives of his work, including the Los Angeles County Museum of Art in 2006, and the Design Museum in London, the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Friedman Benda Gallery in Manhattan all in 2007.

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An architectural term that in horology refers to the triangular ornamental decoration in the corners of of the dial plate. The spandrels are usually of cast brass and may be additonally chased and engraved. On painted dial clocks the spandrels are also usually painted.


Short turned pieces, used as stretchers or back supports mainly in cottage chairs, couches and day beds. Turned shelf supports and the railings used in the backs and arms of day beds during the late 19th century are also referred to as spindles. Until the coming of the industrial age, spindles, like all turned pieces, were made by hand, and should show some slight variation. With the introduction of the factory lathe, spindles and turned legs became quite uniform and standard.


The central back support between the top rail and the seat in chairs and couches. They may take a variety of forms, and run either horizontally or vertically.


Spode was first produced at the Stoke-on-Trent factory established by Josiah Spode (1733 - 1797) in 1770. Josiah Spode Junior made the first type of English bone china. Spode ware was distinctive for its Willow pattern and for its floral and Japanese design tableware.

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Spoon Back

A term to used to describe the shape of the back of a chair, either upholstered or wooden, that is shaped like a spoon, with a rounded top, and curved back made so that the whole of the sitter's back is cocooned within the back of the chair. This type of back was popular in Victorian dining and occasional chairs.


A loose cushion that fits onto the seat of a chair or settee, and can be removed. Originally the squab was constructed from horsehair, then later coconut fibre.

Staffordshire Figures

Perhaps the most famous pottery figures of the last hundred years or so, are the Staffordshire flat backs, the description "flat back" indicating they were not detailed on the reverse as they were designed to stand against a wall, not be seen in the round.

The numerous large and small Staffordshire potteries, estimated at over 1,000 by the end of the 19th century, produced a vast range of coloured and glazed earthenware figures.

The range included rustic, allegorical and biblical scenes, as well as famous people, such as Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, or Bonnie Prince Charlie and Flora McDonald, which were made either as separate pieces or as pairs on one stand.

Sometimes the characters were mounted like Lord Raglan and Marshal Arnaud. There were also representations of The Soldier's Farewell and The Soldier's Return, and there were many portrayals of dogs, especially King Charles spaniels, greyhounds, pugs, and Pekingese.

These Staffordshire figures were made right up to 1900 or so. Most Staffordshire is unmarked, and as they were produced in vast quantities, the figures do not command high prices in the marketplace unless the details are good or if it is known that only a limited number were made. As well, recent copies have been made which has depressed the price.


Although the word is little used nowadays, a standish is an inkstand on feet and usually in silver or silver plate, containing some of the following: inkwells, a pounce pot, a sealing wax container and a pen rest. Standishes are also found in less common materials including boulle, marble, brass and wood.


Early bone Stanhope miniature binoculars with a view of the Statue of Liberty New York. Length 2 cm

Stanhopes are small, often utilitarian, objects that have been set with a tiny lens, which, when held to light and close to the eye, reveals a tiny photograph. The microphotograph itself is no bigger than the size of a full stop, but is magnified when viewed through the lens.

Three people contributed to the development of Stanhopes – J.B. Dancer, inventor of microphotography, Lord Stanhope, inventor of the lens and Frenchman Rene Dagron, who first combined the two and set the result into novelty items, thereby popularising the technique.

Mass-produced on a rapidly increasing scale from the early 1860s onwards, most were sold as inexpensive souvenirs of places or as commemorative objects for events and exhibitions. From the mid-1860s, Dagron exported thousands of lenses from his factory.

People could send him photographs, which he would miniaturise and mount on a lens making them ready for insertion into any object. Exported lenses were marked ‘Made in France’ or with Dagron’s company name. The objects into which the lens was inserted are usually made from inexpensive materials such as bone, vegetable ivory, bog oak or base metals. Plastic was used after the 1920s. Sewing items, charms and penholders predominate.

Scenic views are more common than dated historical personalities and events, which tend to have higher values. Erotic subjects fetch higher prices still. The 20th century saw a decline in inventiveness and range but Stanhope novelties were still produced for commemorative events, such as the accession of Queen Elizabeth II in 1953 and for advertising purposes.

Demand declined in the 1960s and production ceased completely in 1972. Condition is important. Primarily, the lens must be present and the novelty should not be damaged. The image should be visible and sharp – crazing, bubbling of the gum or scratches reduce value. Never immerse examples in water as this can destroy the adhesive between the image and lens. Also avoid sharp knocks which can also separate the image from the lens.

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Staunton Chess Set

How should the king, queen, rooks and other pieces be depicted? Why is the king always the tallest piece and have a cross on his head. And why is the knight depicted as a horse head?

Until the adaption of a standard design, the designs of the pieces in every set varied. The Staunton chess set set a standard design for each piece used in the game of chess, and was the style adopted for use in chess competitions.

The Staunton designs were developed in 1849 and sold by sports and games manufacturers Jaques & Son of London, and were either designed by the proprietor of the firm, John Jaques or his his brother in law, Nathaniel Cook.

The design was named after Howard Staunton, an English chess player who was regarded as the leading player in the 1840s to 1850s.

The style has been popular for more than 160 years, and is still the standard today in tournament chess games and competitions.

Steam Engines and Models

A live steam scale model of a traction engine, late 19th/20th century, with a front roller, spoked wheels and boiler chimney, finished in maroon and black with yellow trim, 75 cm long, 33 cm high

Steam has been used to power models and toys from the late 19th century onwards, as an alternative to clockwork. It was largely replaced by battery or electric power in the 20th century, although some toys are still being sold and some models (usually scratch built by amateurs) are still being built.

There are three primary types of steam engine driven items: stationary toys built for children, moving steam-powered models such as engines, trains and boats and demonstration models made to show how a machine works.

Stationary engines were made by many of the leading German tinplate manufacturers such as Gebruder Bing, Marklin, Ernst Plank and Carette. In England, Mamod is the best known maker. They also made moving steam engines. Most stationary steam engines drove flywheels that would be attached to other accessories with belts, driving the workings on the accessory. Factories, windmills and other novelty movements can be found. Tinplate toys are desirable to tinplate collectors who collect names such as Marklin and Bing.

Original paintwork or lithography is important, and damage, often caused by the water and oil used, reduces value. Look for original burners and components. Larger demonstration models fetch large sums if sophisticated, well engineered and of a large size. Any finely made ‘live steam’ pieces such as trains that can be ‘ridden’ or are larger than a toy will also usually be desirable and valuable.

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Steiner, Henry

Henry Steiner, born in Bremen, Germany in 1835, and arrived in South Australia about 1858. By 1864 he was in business on the corner of Rundle and Charles Streets, Adelaide. Steiner was one of the most prolific Australian silversmiths, and he exhibited his work both in Australia and overseas. After the death of his wife and two children in the typhoid outbreak of 1883, Steiner sold his business to August Brunkhorst (1846-1919) and left Adelaide. He died in 1914.

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In drinking glasses the stem is that section of the glass that joins the bowl to the foot. In mass produced glasses is usually solid and of cylindrical shape, but in antique drinking glasses it may be long and short and in various styles or with decoration, such as air twist, baluster, collared, faceted, hollow, knopped, teardrop, twisted or incised.


Victorian Stevengraph, "The Perfect Time", with original label verso. The pictures were a standard size of 5 1/2 inches x 2 1/2 inches.

Coventry was the centre of silk weaving in the mid 19th century, but after the introduction of a free trade agreement in 1860 that removed import duties on silks, brocades and ribbons, and a change in fashions, the silk ribbon industry in Coventry was no longer competitive. This led to financial difficulties for the weaving factories, and they looked for ways to diversify.

About 1862, one of the weavers, Thomas Stevens was able to complete modifications to his ribbon weaving Jacquard looms to produce multi-coloured woven silk pictures, which he called Stevengraphs. As well as pictures often featuring horse racing, foxhunting, or portraits, he produced woven silk bookmarks, greeting cards and postcards. The pictures were a standard size of 5 1/2 inches x 2 1/2 inches.

Stevens was able to successfully market his products and he dominated the woven silk market from the 1860's until 1940 when "The Stevengraph Works" were destroyed by German bombing during World War II. Other manufacturers followed Stevens lead, but regardless of manufacturer, all woven silk items are known as Stevengraphs.

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Stewart Dawson & Co.

Stewart Dawson & Co. were manufacturing and retailing jewellers, silversmiths and watchmakers who in the late 1880s had branches in Liverpool and London in England; in Australia in Sydney and Melbourne and in New Zealand in Auckland, Wellington, Christchurch and Dunedin.

The person behind the business, Stewart Dawson (1849 - 1932), whose full name was David Stewart Dawson was born in Aberdeenshire, Scotland.

He served his apprenticeship in Dufftown a small town about 70 km from Aberdeen and then at the age of 22, moved to Liverpool where he founded a retail watch making and jewellery business. The business was very successful, and after reviewing the number of orders that were coming in from Australia, he emigrated there in 1886. He founded the business of Stewart Dawson and Co., initially with premises in Sydney but soon expanded to Melbourne, and New Zealand.

He also invested and traded in inner city properties in Sydney and Melbourne, from which he became very wealthy, so much so that by the time of the Great Depression in the 1930s he had converted his properties to cash, and was holding in excess of 1 million pounds.

The firm was converted into a limited liability company in 1907 under the name of Stewart Dawson & Co Ltd. The business was sold in 1931 to R.H.O. Hills of Blackpool and continued its activity until around 1935. However the business is still operating in New Zealand under the name of Stewart Dawsons with 13 stores.

At the time of his death in 1932 at the of 82 he had homes in Potts Point and Palm Beach in Sydney, Springwood in the Blue Mountains, Monte Carlo and Hatton Garden, London.

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


A common name given to the timber from the Black Stinkwood tree that is native to the high forests of South Africa. Because of the depletion of the species due to the use of its timber for furniture manufacture and its bark in traditional medicines, the tree is now protected, and the timber no longer available.

The name comes from the unpleasant odour that is emitted when the tree has just been felled.

The wood was much sought by cabinet makers and is dark walnut or reddish brown to black with a yellow sap-wood, and the grain is extremely fine, close, dense and smooth.

Stirrup Cups

Stirrup cups were for the pre-hunt drink, usually a port or sherry, offered to a member of the hunt mounted on horseback and about to depart for the hunt. As they were held in the hand they did not require a flat base Most of the cups are made of silver, although less expensive ceramic examples were also made, and they are usually in the form of a fox’s head or, more rarely, the head of a stag, greyhound or hare, or in the form of a hoof.

Most silver examples date from the early 1700s to mid 19th century. Many stirrup cups survive from the peak period of their production, the late 18th and early 19th centuries, and their popularity as collector’s items has led to their continued production by modern silversmiths.

Stokes (australasia) Ltd

Thomas Stokes a diesinker and electroplater was born in Birmingham in 1831, and arrived in Victoria in the 1850s, to join the search for gold. Soon after, presumably being unsuccessful in his quest or gold he established a business in Melbourne as a “Die Sinker and Medallist, Stamper and Token Maker”, and soon after added electroplating to the services he was able to supply.

By the 1880s he was employing 30 tradesmen and apprentices. The company's specialty was badges and at about this time they were producing coat and collar badges for schools, colleges, lodges and associations, the Victorian Railways, Salvation Army and the Australian Army. The business became a proprietary concern in 1911, re-named Stokes & Son Pty Ltd., and in 1962 Stokes became a public company, renamed Stokes (Australasia) Ltd

In the 1950s the company diversified into manufacturing components for the automotive and domestic appliance industries, and became one of Australia's leading suppliers to these industries.

Today, Stokes is a publicly listed company, with offices and representatives throughout Australia, Asia and the Pacific. As well as being the Australia's leading independent distributor of appliance spare parts, the industry leader in the supply of badges, medallions and associated products it is also the country's major manufacturer of electrical elements.

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There are two distinct types of stools. The earliest is the simplest type of seat furniture probably devised by human beings, consisting of a short wooden bench standing either on four legs or sometimes a flat-shaped support at either end. The legs may be square or turned, and in primitive versions simply sticks cut from a tree. Round milking stools usually had only three short legs.

The second more sophisticated type of stools, were constructed with a frame joined by mortice and tenon joints. Using this construction method, padded or upholstered stools for use in the drawing room have been made since the 17th century, following the trends in stylistic design over the years.


A horizontal rail which connects the legs of stools, chairs, tables and stands, to provide stabilisation of the legs. A stretcher table is any table with a stretcher base. The term is usually applied to substantial farmhouse tables, although many cabinetmaker's pieces, such as sofa tables, also have turned stretchers.


Fine inlaid lines, in contrasting colour to the carcase timber, found mainly on furniture made in the styles of the later 18th and early 19th centuries. Stringing, which may be of satinwood, pine, ebony, horn, brass or occasionally ivory, is found principally on drawer fronts, around the outer edges of usually tapered legs and French bracket feet, around the edges of inlaid panels and between the joint of the cross banding and carcase timber on table tops, chests of drawers, cabinets etc. The effect is to emphasize the line of the piece and add to the impression of lightness and elegance. Stringing also occurs in Sheraton-revival-style furniture of the later 19th and early 20th centuries.

Studio Anna

Studio Anna, makers of souvenir ware and art pottery was founded by Karel Jungvirt, who had trained as a sculptor and ceramist in Munich and Prague.

He arrived in Australia in 1951; in 1952 he was asked by Diana Pottery to make moulds for them. Quickly, he established his own pottery, winning the Diplome D'Honneur and a gold medal at the 1955 Cannes International Exhibition of Modern Ceramics.

Studio Anna produced a huge variety of shapes & sizes of pottery pieces decorated with landscapes, landmarks, flora, fauna and aboriginal motifs.

In its peak years in the mid 1950's, Studio Anna employed over 30 staff and their ceramic ware was not only distributed widely in Australia, but was also being exported to such places as Tahiti, New Zealand, Fiji, the United Kingdom, Canada and the United States.

In 1957 a trade agreement was signed with Japan, which allowed the import of cheap mass produced ceramics. The competition put many of the local potteries who employed hand production techniques out of business, although Studio Anna was able to continue on a reduced scale.

Karel Jungvirt was able to adopt the production of Studio Anna to cater for the evolving tastes of the times. In the early 1960's he produced a range of cookware and in the late 1960's opened a series of stores in the Sydney area selling Australiana including Studio Anna. In the 1970's Studio Anna moved into production of lamp bases.

Studio Anna was sold in 1999, and Karel Jungvirt moved back to Czechoslovakia where he died the following year.

Studio of ....

In the opinion of the cataloguers, a work possibly executed under the supervision of the artist.

Subsidiary Dial

The face of a 19th century continental mantel clockwith three subsidiary dials.

On a clock or watch, a subsidiary dial, also called an auxiliary dial, is a dial that is secondary to the main dial and may show seconds, day of the week or month, or strike silent. A subsidiary dial may be within our outside the main dial, and a clock or watch may have several subsidiary dials.


A sulphide is a small opaque white medallion, usually depicting a figural group or a bust, made of china clay or glass paste and enclosed within transparent glass.

Sutherland Table

A Victorian gateleg table, it is notable for its long side flaps, sometimes reaching almost to the floor, with a very narrow central section, rarely more than 15cm wide, which account for their present popularity. Usually veneered in a fancy timber such as burr walnut, figured walnut or rosewood.

Apparently named after the Duchess of Sutherland, a Mistress of the Robes to Queen Victoria.

Swag / Garland / Festoon

A popular neo-classical form of decoration in decorative art consisting of a pendant garland made up of flowers, fruit and leaves, and found on all types of objects from furniture to ceramics and clocks, and in many materials from bronze to wood.

Common themes included in swags are husks, chains, hops, and laurel leaves.

Swan Neck Pediment

Most commonly found on clocks, cabinets and bookcases, a swan neck pediment is formed by two flattened "S" shapes which almost meet in the centre. The form was derived from classical architecure and popularised by Chippendale in the 18th century. A true pediment is triangular in shape, and as a swan neck pediment does not meet at the apex of the triangle it is known as a "broken pediment". Swan neck pediments are also known as scrolled pediments.


A Sevres style rose pompadour figural sweetmeat dish, late 19th century.

A sweetmeat is a sweet delicacy such as candied fruit, gilded nuts, sugared comfits and crystallised flowers.

In the 18th and 19th centuries sweetmeats were presented on the table in a fancy basket, dish or bowl, in silver, glass or ceramics, which were sometimes made in pairs to be set at each end of a table.


The SylvaC name was first used by pottery company Shaw & Copestake in the 1930s, although the factory had been in operation since the late 1890s. Tableware, animal figures and ornaments were all part of the output, along with moulded and matt glazed earthenware vases and novelties.

Inexpensive and mass-produced in quantity, SylvaC has become quite popular; items showing a high quality, detailed moulding, plus animal figures and jugs featuring moulded animal handles are all collectable. Wall pockets decorated with fairies and elves are also sought after.

The most popular and valuable are the larger stylised figurines with unusual matt glazes, such as the koala and the sea monster cruet.

Production ceased in 1982, but reproductions continued to be made after this date.

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Szirer, Joseph

Joseph Szirer was born in 1939 in Hungary.

He arrived in Australia in 1956 and studied painting and ceramics at Caulfield Institute of Technology and was employed as a part-time lecturer from 1975. About this time he established his own studio in the Dandenongs near Melbourne.

His works are marked with an impressed 'JS'. Some are signed 'Szirer' and he also produced a line of works with an impressed 'Jo Szirer Studio' stamp.

From 1981, with assistance from the Crafts Board of the Australia Council, he engaged several trainee ceramicists.

Since his first exhibition at Gallery 99 in Melbourne, he has held ten solo exhibitions in Victoria, Queensland, New South Wales and Tasmania and has participated in major group exhibitions.

He is represented in the Australian National Gallery, Canberra, Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sydney, National Gallery of Victoria, and the Tasmanian Museum and Art Gallery, Hobart

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