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Glossary

Glossary

Bright-cut engraving

A method of engraving short, angled facets to achieve a reflective effect. Bright-cut engraving was particularly popular during the late 18th and early 19th centuries.

Casting

The process of fashioning entire objects or component parts (e.g. finials, feet or handles) by pouring molten metal into a mold of the desired shape.

Chasing

A process for creating surface decoration in high or low relief by using hammers and steel punches that indent the metal rather than removing it, as in engraving. Chasing is also used for sharpening up cast parts.

Cut-card

Designs cut from sheets of silver, often in foliate patterns, and applied with solder. Cut-card ornament was especially popular during the late 17th and early 18th centuries.

Engraving

Linear decoration achieved with a sharp tool called a burin or graver, which removes a very small amount of metal in a V-shaped groove.

Firestain

Staining on or just below the surface of the metal, caused by oxidation of the copper in the silver alloy.

Fluting

Ornament consisting of rounded, concave, parallel grooves, derived from the design of classical columns.

Gadrooning

A band of convex, parallel elements, positioned vertically or diagonally, often used as a border.

Gilding

The application of a thin layer of gold to silver or other metals. In mercuy or fire-gilding, an amalgam of mercury and gold was painted onto the surface of the metal. The coated vessel was then heated, causing the mercury to evaporate and fusing the gold onto the silver surface. Gilding is now achieved by electrolysis.

Jar

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Piercing

Cut decoration executed with a hammer and chisel, a fretsaw, or later with the mechanical fly-press.

Plate

The generic term for articles of wrought silver or gold; not to be confused with silver-plated wares.

Raising

The basic technique used to form hollow vessels. A sheet of silver is hammered in concentric rows over cast iron stakes, or anvils, until the desired shape is achieved. The metal becomes brittle as it is worked, necessitating repeated annealing (heating and cooling) to avoid cracking and to restore malleability.

Repousse

Relief decoration created by hammering onto the back of the object. The embossed pattern is then further defined by chasing on the front.

Vase

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