After Monday’s post considering monograms and typography I’ve been thinking further about decorative techniques on antique and vintage silver. More specifically, about the use of terminology describing decorative techniques.
Silver Lingo Syndrome!
I’m guilty, guilty, guilty. When you deal with silver (or anything) every day you naturally fall into the habit of referring things that way. But unlike a career with, say, the CIA where keeping the circle of people who know the lingo smaller is better, I want you to actually know what I’m talking about and buy something.
When I step back and consider, I realize I’ve been a little casual.
It’s really annoying when you are put in a situation when the lingo is flying around and you just don’t want to look silly by asking. Yes, I know you shouldn’t be embarrassed to ask. But let’s face it, no one like to look ignorant – especially when buying expensive items.
For an item to stand out in an online listing it needs to be really descriptive, you have to see it, feel it, imagine enjoying it. Pictures are worth those 1000 words, but what if you unintentionally create a disconnect between the two.
Like any specialty, silver is rich and rife with technical and artistic terminology. It is so rich and rife that this post is going to be one of a series – consider this post Silver Lingo 101.
Do you know what a gadroon edge is?
Oops. Sorry. Let’s start to fix that.
Decorative elements generally fall into these categories:
- Engraved – literally carved into the silver
- Repousse – when a decorative pattern has been raised from the silver by being pushed out from behind
- Applied – when a decorative element has been made separately and then applied to the main body of the piece
Right all of that is wonderfully academic.
Here are some real examples (with photos) of specific decorative terminology. They are in no particular order, some photos will illustrate more than one technique, and this is not an exhaustive list. As I said above, it’s part of a new series.
This photo shows a rope-like and twisting border on the very edge of the rim. This is gadroon, a very popular technique. Especially on hollowware, platters, compotes, and trays.
The lattice design is pierce work, literally piercings in the silver. Sometimes in a repeating design like this, other times a simple cut-out.
As you’ll remember from above repousse means pushed out from behind. Usually, it is in the form of a repetitive design, often on a border or a rim. This is a stunning example of repousse used in art nouveau.
It is a nude reclining on the waves adorning a whiskey flask, gorgeous!
Here is an example of a rolled lip. Simple, classic, elegant.
Last, but not least for today is an example of reeding – the vertical, column type elements. Reeding often seen on tea sets. On the very edge of this piece is beading – literally a row of beads. On this piece the beads are quite large, the can vary in size and be very small. In addition, the beads are not always the same size, they can graduate in size as they move along a piece.
That’s all for today, but this series will continue.
Thanks for reading. Is there a term you have always been confused by? Leave me a comment, test my knowledge!
And, if you like what you see, I’d really appreciate a tweet.