Antique furniture

Our antique furniture glossary below is filled with handy definitions of key terms you might come across in a valuation report.

Information kindly provided in association with Doerr Dallas Valuations.

From the mineral gypsum, typically white or grey and slightly translucent. Often used in decorative items and sculpture.

A style of wardrobe typically from France.

A foot carved in the shape of an animal or bird’s claw holding a ball.

A simple ball-shaped foot on furniture, popular in the 17th century for tables or cabinets.

A turned or carved upright post, pillar or column. Often used to support the cornice in cabinet furniture, stems of tripod table bases and chair back-splats.

Bombe means “curving outward”, “bulging” or “bombe-shaped”. A French term used to describe pieces that feature an outward swelling curve at the front.

Thomas Chippendale was a leading Rococo / mid-18th century English Furniture designer and maker. His pattern book became a global benchmark of fashionable furniture.

A low chest of drawers and later, a term for bedroom cupboards to store the porcelain potty. The commode was also used in library steps and other pieces of antique furniture.

A sideboard that is usually very elaborate with a mirror back.

A leaf which is hinged to the side of a table, which drops at the side when not in use.

A dark stain is used on wood to make it look like ebony.

When wood and leather are stamped or hammered to make a decorative design protrude from the surface.

A decoration formed by making parallel, concave grooves usually seen on column shafts and run in a vertical direction.

The edge below the top of a piece of furniture. Can be plain or carved with fretwork.

An ornamental metal or wood railing around the edge of a piece of furniture.

Material applied to carved furniture as the base for painting or predominantly, gilding. In use from the Middle Ages, it is a mixture of gypsum, sizing, glue and oils.

A thin layer of gold applied to wood or metal, then burnished to create a lustrous finish. Applied as gold leaf with water onto gesso, oil directly onto wood, and mercury onto metal.

A decorative design or pattern that is created by embedding pieces of one material into another, often with contrasting woods, ivory and mother of pearl.

A furniture finish from the 17th and 18th centuries, whereby paints and varnishes are applied to a gesso base to simulate the appearance of lacquer.

A plant or flower container.

A desk with pedestals on either side with a central opening for the knees.

Oriental varnish obtained from the sap of the lacquer tree giving a high-gloss finish.

A term for small tables such as side tables, coffee tables, lamp tables etc.

A French phrase meaning ground gold. It refers to brass mounts on furniture.

A low, upholstered seat without backs or arms.

Decoration that is raised from the surface - carved, stamped, or moulded.

A large piece of dining-room furniture with a flat top and drawers. Sometimes a back for displaying china and glass, sometimes with cabinets with doors on each side.

The fixing of thin layers of wood to the surface of a piece of furniture.