Cartouche – Definition

Cartouche – Definition

The decorative arts world has many “squishy” and vague vocabulary words, but few are “squishier” and vaguer than cartouche. Originally, the term comes from Egyptology and is used to describe a oval enclosing hieroglyphics and having a horizontal line at one end. (The line denotes royalty.) The oval had significance not unlike that of a closed circle, in that it was believed that an oval around a person’s name provided protection [...] Click here to continue reading.


Haines, Jeremiah

Jeremiah Haines

Little is known about Jeremiah Haines, although he is listed in American Cabinetmakers: Marked American Furniture, 1640-1940 by William C. Ketchum, Jr.

Ketchum notes the existence of a Chippendale mahogany chest of drawers, circa 1770 to 1790, illustrated in the January 1956 issue of Antiques. The bottom of the piece was inscribed “Made and Sold by Jereiah Haines.”

Skinner, Inc., offered a sideboard signed and dated 1808 at an auction in 2013. [...] Click here to continue reading.


The Sarcophagus in Decorative Arts

The Sarcophagus in Decorative Arts

Derived from the Greek sarx, meaning flesh, and phagein, meaning eat, a sarcophagus is, essentially, a container for a body, much like a coffin or casket. Historically, sarcophagi were typically made of stone (though sometimes of other materials, such as wood or metal), with a relief-carved or pediment top, and designed to be above ground, and have been used by many cultures since ancient times.

An ancient [...] Click here to continue reading.


John Ritto Penniman (1782 to 1841)

John Ritto Penniman (1782 to 1841)

Born in Boston, John Ritto Penniman came from a talented family—his father was a physician and entrepreneur, and his ten siblings include booksellers, an artist and inventor, and a teacher. Penniman trained as an ornamental painter in Roxbury, Massachusetts, which was, at the time, a community of artisans, including clock and furniture makers. Some of his early work was as a dial painter for noted clockmakers Aaron and [...] Click here to continue reading.


Dan & Marty Campanelli Samplers

By Their Samplers They Will Know Them

By EVE M. KAHN Published: July 5, 2012, New York Times.

“Our girls,” Dan and Marty Campanelli call them. Each girl was a sampler embroiderer, mostly in the early 1800s, along the East Coast. Each one now has her own biographical research binder on shelves at the Campanellis’ farm in western New Jersey. The couple have spent a decade tracing the sewers’ genealogies and identifying the stitched [...] Click here to continue reading.


Tagua – definition

Tagua Nuts

Tagua nuts are the endosperm of a genus of South American palm trees that are found from Panama down through Bolivia and Peru. Tagua nuts, or more accurately, the kernels of tagua seeds, are left behind by the wildlife that feed on the palm’s fruit. The group of palms is often referred to as “tagua palms” or “ivory-nut palms,” because tagua nuts are so hard, they resemble elephant ivory. (In fact, the [...] Click here to continue reading.


Kimbel & Cabus

Kimbel & Cabus, Victorian Cabinetmakers

When Anthony Kimbel and Joseph Cabus formed their partnership in 1863, they were both experienced veterans of the highly competitive furniture manufacturing business in New York, which included Herter Brothers, Alexander Roux and Pottier & Stymus.

Kimbel had been a designer in partnership with Anthony Bembe in the 1850′s when the company made the furniture for the United States House of Representatives (see examples in the p4A reference database). [...] Click here to continue reading.


Tiffany Lamps

Tiffany Lamps with Stained Leaded Glass Shades

Tiffany Studios Charles Tiffany had a thriving luxury goods business which he expected his son to take over, but Louis aspired to a career in art. Although he trained as a painter, Louis Comfort Tiffany was inspired by the glasswork in the Byzantine churches he visited as a youth. He was particularly taken with colored glass, and the effects of daylight upon it. Having studied with a [...] Click here to continue reading.


Madame Alexander Dolls

Madame Alexander: Quality Dolls & Innovative Marketing

Doll collectors love her high quality toys, but it was marketing savvy of this Russian-Jewish immigrant entrepreneur that put Scarlett O’Hara of Gone with the Wind into the arms of millions of little girls in the industry’s first ever licensed movie merchandise tie-in.

The Madame Alexander Doll Company made popular dolls at affordable prices, but their success was as due to innovative marketing as well as unique [...] Click here to continue reading.


Antique, Vintage & Modern Paperweights

Baccarat glass paperweight dated 1848, p4A item D9706638 Paperweights

Compact and colorful, artistic and affordable, paperweights have been popular with collectors since the mid 19th century. These circular works or art are created individually by glassmakers who create unique paperweights in a thick, domed case which serves as a magnifier for the figures within. The most popular are Millefiori, but collectors also value advertising, political, and cameo scenes and subjects by Baccarat, Clichy, [...] Click here to continue reading.


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