Glossary beginning with S

Peppered with unusual terms and descriptive phrases, the language of the antiques world is colourful to say the least. With our handy glossary, you'll soon be able to distinguish your maiolica from majolica and your chinoiserie from cloisonne.

Salt glaze

A glaze on pottery with a translucent, hard, orange-peel appearance achieved by shovelling salt into the kiln as soon as it reaches a sufficiently high temperature.


Originally, a row of three chairs that were fused together and sold as part of a suite.


Solid, high backed, wood-panelled forerunner of the settee.

Sheraton, Thomas (1715-1806)

Known for his light, delicate furniture designs published in his Cabinet Maker’s and Upholsterer’s Drawing Book and the Cabinet Dictionary. Influenced many cabinetmakers.

Show Frame

Upholstered seating where the wooden frame shows around the edges.


Earthenware pots that have been decorated with slip (a watered-down clay applied to the surface before glazing).

Soda Glass

Glass with soda as the alkaline content rather than potash as in Forest glass.

Soufflé Wares

A range of decorative glazes developed by Ruskin. Distinguished by a colourful mottled effect upon firing.


A zinc alloy used to make figures, clock cases and various other decorative objects during the 19th and early 20th centuries. It was a cheap substitute for bronze.


A vertical piece of wood at the centre of a chair back.

Spoon back

A chair back with a splat in the shape of a spoon.

Sterling Silver

925 parts per 1,000 of silver mixed with another metal, usually copper.


Sterling sliver 925 parts per 1,000 of silver mixed up with another metal, usually copper.
A hard-fired waterproof ceramic body.


Top hat worn in the 19th and early 20th centuries

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