Silverware and Metal

1. Assay:
A test of the purity or fineness of an alloy.

2. Assay mark:
The official mark or series of marks on a piece of silverware that identifies its purity or fineness.. Also known as a hallmark.

3. Swami-style:
A method of making silver in South India, particularly Madras and Bangalore. Swami-style silver often depicted gods and demi-gods of the Hindu pantheon..

4. Repoussé:
A method of low-relief designing where a malleable metal is shaped by hammering on the reverse.


1. Art Deco
An umbrella term used to describe various styles in the decorative arts and architecture that became popular after the Great War. The Art Deco Period was at its peak from the mid-1920s up to the 1940s.Art Deco furniture is streamlined and rectilinear in design and is characterised by geometric and angular shapes, symmetry, and bold colours.

2. Parcel-gilt
Gilding is a process by which gold leaf or gold powder is applied to solid surfaces to give them a thin coating of gold. Parcel-gilt is used to describe a surface that is only partially gilded, or is made up of gilt and un-gilt parts.

3. Chinoiserie
A recurring theme in European artistic styles since the mid to late 17th century. Chinoiserie was a European interpretation of Chinese artistry, including Chinese designs and the use of lacquer, and came to represent a confluence of Oriental and Occidental.

4. Cabriole Leg
Derived from the French cabrioler—“to leap like a goat”. A curvilinear style of designing furniture legs that began to be used in Europe in the late 17th century. Usually, the upper half of the leg is bent outwards, i.e. is convex, and the lower half is bent inwards, concave.

5. Japanning
An 18th century European technique of miming Oriental lacquering techniques.

6. Frieze
In architecture, the wide, middle section of a superstructure. Frieze is also used to describe a decorative horizontal band, as one would find at the top of a column or room.

7. Fleur-de-lys
French for “lilies”. It is a stylized motif that makes a regular appearance in the decorative arts.

8. Celadon-glazed
A greenish ceramic glaze used in stoneware and made of slip, or liquefied clay, which contains a high proportion of iron, lending the glazed pottery a green tint.

9. Demi-lune:
French for half moon. A popular design for tables.

10. Howdah:
A special type of carriage mounted on the backs of animals, used in hunting and warfare in the Indian subcontinent. The howdah was also considered a symbol of wealth.

11. Regency Period:
The Regency Period was an interim period (1811-1820) when King George III was deemed unfit to rule. His son, the Prince of Wales, became the Prince Regent in this interim. The Regency style is used to denote the decorative arts that flourished in this period, extending upto the 1830s.

12. Bentwood:
A method used to mould wood into curved forms by either soaking or steaming it and bending it while still wet, and letting it harden to assume the desired shape.

13. Thonet-style:
Michael Thonet was a German-Austrian cabinetmaker of the early 19th century, famed for his bentwood furniture. Certain bentwood furniture resembling his style is termed thus.

14. Edwardian Period:
The Edwardian Era was the last of the British monarchies, and was marked by the brief rule of King Edward VII, between 1901-1910. The decorative arts of this period were light and “cheerful”—a stark contrast to the chunkiness of preceding Victorian style furniture.

15. Art Nouveau:
An international art style characterized by the use of natural forms and curvilinear structures, spanning architecture, interior design, graphic design, and the fine and decorative arts, most popular between 1890-1910.

16. Chaise longue:
French for “long chair”. A chaise longue is an upholstered sofa that can support the legs.

17. Campaign furniture:
A type of furniture that can be folded and transported. Campaign furniture was a popular choice for travelling, and historically its use can be traced to military campaigns.

18. Georgian Period:
The Georgian Period takes its name from the reign of the Hanoverian kings, George I-IV. It lasted from 1714-1837, including the interim Regency Era. Georgian furniture was, like other decorative arts, a reaction to the gloominess of the preceding Baroque style, and was light both in terms of colour scheme and design.

19. Mortise and Tenon:
A principle of furniture making where adjoining pieces of wood are fitted together at a 90 degree angle and then wedged or glued together.

20. Silver-gilt:
Silver plated with gold.

21. Bonheur du jour:
Translating into “daytime delight”, a Bonheur-du-jour is a type of ladies’ writing desk that was introduced in Paris in the mid-18th century, and proceeded to become immensely fashionable

22. Inlay:
A technique used to fill depressions in an object with contrasting, coloured material.

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