You've found it! A great source for answers to questions you've always had about tableware terms but were afraid to ask. Also listed are definitions for reference notes that appear on our e-mail and US mail product listings. Over 260 terms below listed in alphabetical order!
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18/8 or 18/10 Stainless - refers to the ratio of chromium (18%) and nickel (8% or 10%)
added to carbon steel in the stainless steel manufacturing process.
Acid Polishing - process whereby gray cuttings produced by an abrasive wheel are smoothed and polished by acid immersion.
Active Pattern - a pattern that is currently being produced, with molds, decals, and other materials components readily available.
Air Bubbles - bubbles or seeds formed by gases that occur when chemicals for making glass are mixed; large bubbles can be purposely introduced into soft glass through a needle to achieve a decorative effect.
Air Twist Stem - effect achieved by trapping air bubbles in molten stem section of glass and stretching it with a twisting motion. An example of the air twist stem can be found in Stuart’s Ariel pattern.
Annealing - a finished piece of glass is reheated and then cooled to give it greater strength.
Annual - a collectible issued once a year as part of a series; most often used when the collectible does not commemorate a specific holiday.
Applied - certain parts, such as spouts, handles, etc., are sometimes made separately and applied with solder.
Apprentice Bowl - a crystal bowl used to practice different cutting and etching techniques. Apprentice bowls are very collectible because they are used to demonstrate all of the skills that an apprentice has learned.
Armetale - an alloy created through the combination of several metals, produced by the Wilton company. Click here to see a list of Wilton’s Armetale patterns.
Art Deco - design style popular throughout the 1930’s and 1940’s. The art deco style is characterized by straight lines and applied artful décor that represents the life of men in the machine age. This style permeated architecture, design, and art during the 1930's and 1940's. Examples of notable designs during the art deco period are the Empire State Building and the Golden Gate Bridge. An excellent example of the art deco style in silver hollowware is found in this George Jensen’s Pyramid tea set.
Art Nouveau - style associated with the late 19th and early 20th centuries, characterized by curvilinear styling; the motifs and designs are taken from nature.
Backstamp - stamp appearing on the underside of an item; this stamp may display manufacturer information (name or logo), pattern name, number, dates, artist marks, or other important information. Not all items in the same pattern will show the same information, and the stamp may not include all of the information needed for identification.
Barrel - body of piece has a cylindrical shape, similar to a barrel.
Barware - typically heavy glassware designed and used for serving mixed drinks in a bar setting. An example of barware can be found in Rogaska's Cheers pattern.
Basaltware - unglazed stoneware, usually black with a dull gloss. Josiah Wedgwood perfected the Basaltware technique prior to creating Jasperware. An example of Basaltware can be found in Wedgwood’s Basalt-Black pattern. To learn more about the development of Basaltware and Jasperware, read our history of Wedgwood China.
Bas-relief, Low-relief - sculptural relief that projects very little from the background surface
Batch - the actual mixture of ceramic ingredients, which under heat processing is transformed
into either glass or clayware.
Bean Pot - large pot with lid, usually having a handle.
Bent Glass - flat piece of glass reheated and allowed to sag into a decorative curved shape. An example of bent glass is Sasaki’s Tipsy pattern.
Beveled Tine - a tine with an indented end not in symmetry with the other tines of the piece. Tines with even tips are not beveled. Beveled references help with piece identification, especially when sizes are similar.
Bisque or Biscuit - clayware that has been fired once for hardening, but has yet to be glazed.
Blank - undecorated pieces in a particular medium. In china, several patterns may be made from one blank by adding varied decals, designs or trims; in effect creating different patterns while using the same blank. In many cases, the blank pattern is marketed separately. One of the most famous blank patterns is Haviland’s Ranson.
Blown Glass - glass forced into shape by air pressure applied via mouth or automatically, with or without the use of a mold.
Bobeche - a flat, doughnut-shaped piece of glass used to hold candlesticks and collect wax.
Bone China - contains up to 50% animal bone ash. The mixture is burned and ground into a fine powder to create white, translucent china.
Bouillon Cup and Saucer - a two-handled cup and saucer typically used for seasoned soups made of thin broths; similar to cream soup and saucer, only smaller.
Bowl - in glassware, this is the part of the piece that holds liquid.
Breakfast Cup and Saucer - looks like a teacup, but larger (larger than oversized cup and saucer, but smaller than a "joke" cup and saucer).
Bright Cut - a cut that is very reflective and bright. The brilliance is due to a cutting technique in which the surface of the silver is cut at an angle leaving a bright, shiny surface.
Bright Finish (Glossy) - highly polished, mirror-like finish produced by use of jeweler's rouge on a polishing wheel; also known as "mirror finish".
Brittania Metal - silver-like alloy of tin, antimony and copper first used in 1770. The "brittaniaware" alloy was first produced by the Meriden Brittania Silver Co., who was later bought out by Rogers Bros.
Bronze Casting - old world art whereby hollow fittings are made when the artisan pours molten metal into bronze molds of fittings, handles, feet, finials, spouts or candleholders
Bud Vase - small vase typically used to hold between 1 and 3 flowers.
Buffing - cleaning of metal with a flexible abrasive wheel or soft cloth. Buffing exposes the shiny undersurface, but does not impair design or decoration.
Burnished Finish - finish that appears crosshatched with scoring running at angles, typically a brushed appearance.
Butter Dish Round with lid - a dish made to hold butter that has been molded into a round shape.
Butter Pat - small, coaster-like piece used at each place setting for individual servings of butter.