As a lover of all things Victorian and antique, I have also found it endlessly fascinating learning the correct terms for the various styles of furnishings and architectural details of buildings, especially those most often seen or used in historic homes. It is a passion not many share today. Few people have interest in learning correct spelling or grammar, much less learning the correct terms for old furniture and old buildings.
Like many people of the 18th and 19th century, who valued a person's accomplishments, even if only self-taught, in such "polished" interests as art and architecture, I find a certain pride in the desire to learn and knowing what I'm looking at and what it's called, enables me to have intelligent and delightful discussions with others "in the know" when visiting historic homes and antique stores, that gratifies my vanity as well as my appreciative eye.
So, I thought I'd share a few pictures of some examples right here at Le Beau Paon Victorien, with the correct term and brief explanation. I can only hope that you might find it as interesting as I do.
There is a myth that endures about the "mortgage button", usually made of ivory or mother-of-pearl, that was sometimes attached to a newel post or cap in 17th, 18th and some 19th century homes and was supposed to signify when the mortgage on the house was paid and the property had no liens on it. Many older homes do have them, but most historians agree that these buttons were just used to conceal the joinery. I have sometimes heard these buttons to be referred to as an "amity button" also and I have found several accounts say that it was to symbolize a state of harmony between the owner and builder, when the house was completed. I do recall an article in Victorian Homes magazine many years ago where a featured historic mansion had one, but they referred to it as a 'good luck button' and that it was to be rubbed with a finger as one descended the stairs each day to have good luck. I find these two latter explanations to be more fitting and possibly more accurate; 17th, 18th and 19th century homeowners didn't have mortgages and there weren't even really banks either during the 17th and 18th century. Mortgages as we known them, didn't even exist until 1934. However, if you find the idea of a "mortgage button" charming, to signify the mortgage of your home being paid in full, there are companies that make them today.
At the top of our cabinet is a decorative piece that could be described as a broken-arch pediment. A pediment is a classical architectural element consisting of a triangular section found above a horizontal structure. The broken-arch pediment has a gap in the center, or apex, of the pediment. It is a very popular design element used in both buildings and furniture design. The curvilinear shape of this pediment is a variant of the broken-arch pediment, called a swan's neck pediment, being that it's curvy rather than straight.
The cabriole leg has a practical function as well; the balance it achieves makes it possible to support heavy case furniture on spindly legs.
And last, but certainly not least, we have the tester and half-tester; we aren't fortunate enough to have one here at Le Beau Paon, so I found some gorgeous photos online of an example of each. A tester is basically the same thing as a canopy.
is TEE-ster, with a long eeee sound). A tester is a canopy, which is most often over a bed, but can also be over a throne, tomb, or pulpit and is normally of carved or cloth-draped wood.
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Thanks for stopping by!
I hope you enjoyed learning some new things along with me!