Victoriana’s Glossary of Terms
Perhaps no other decorative symbol is so associated with the arts of the Victorian period as the acanthus leaf; it is possible to find the carved leaves of this prickly Mediterranean herb scrolling themselves around the curves of nearly every style of nineteeth-century furniture, except some of the later ones.
albert, the prince consort
To those who weren’t on familiar terms with him, he was known as Augustus Albert Emmanuel; to Queen Victoria, his wife, he was known as “my angel.” And if he was not exactly the power behind the throne, he was at least a powerful influence upon it. Victoria, who didn’t really like the job of ruling, depended upon him as her most trusted adviser and private secretary. Albert really had a tough time of it all, because not only did he by law have to play second fiddle to his wife, he was literally on foreign soil. Born on August 26. 1819, near Coburg, Germany, he was never really accepted by the English public, even though Victoria was his first cousin. From the time he marriedVictoria in 1840 until he died prematurely and quite suddenly in 1861, the queen depended upon him when it came to matters of taste. He set out to educate her and England about art and music, and took over the tasks of renovating and decorating their palaces.The Crystal Palace Exhibition of 1851, a tribute to the world’s and England’s achievements in every field, was Albert’s idea. Throughout his life, he continued to promote advances in art Architecture, industry, and science.
A heavily embossed paper-pulp product, anaglypta was the most popular of the scores of Lincrusta imitations that flooded the market when that wallcovering became successful; patented in 1887, and still being made today, anaglypta was not as durable as Lincrusta, but was cheaper and easier to install.
Animal legs and Claws
Victorian furniture, if studied carefully, often has a humorous aspect. The furniture legs just had to be decorative, and when cabinetmakers got bored with those French looking cabriole legs, they turned to paws of all sorts. George Hunzinger, for instance made some parlor suites in the 1860s and 1870s with hooved feet that made the pieces look like where about to gallop off at any moment. Furniture with bail-and-claw feet didn’t appear until about the 1890s, after the Colonial Revival style made its patriotic appearance.
The lower division of an entablature, or that part which rests immediately on a column, especially in classical architecture. Also refers to the group of moldings or other architectural members above and on both sides of a door or window, especially if square in form.
A molding with a symmetrical, tapered profile used in creating panels and for horizontal banding in cornice, wainscoting, and pilaster assemblies.
A molding used on the outside edge of a casing to add a square edge and to increase the casing thickness necessary for certain wainscoting installations.
A square, upright member with beaded profile used under the handrail in a stair rail assembly.
A profiled block at the base of the doorway. Thicker than the casing and the base boars; used as a transition point for the casing.
A molding or assembly of moldings installed horizontally at the base of a wall or cabinet.
The cap molding of a base board assembly; used in conjunction with a base to add additional height and detail.
A symmetrical molding covering the seams in a batten wainscoting assembly.
A molding used horizontally to smooth the transition of a right angle and to add horizontal definition under any ledge or overhang; used in the assembly of cornices, beams, cabinetry, water table, and sills.
A decorative ornament applied in any right angle (where wall meets ceiling) to create an arch or support effect. Commonly used on the interior in niches, bay windows, hallways, openings between rooms, and under shelves. Exterior applications include entryways, and under roof or bay window projections.
The decorative uppermost member cupping columns. Capitals can be used on freestanding columns, on pilasters occurring flat against the wall, or on cabinet and door framing.
A molding or assembly of moldings framing a door or window opening, varying in thickness and width according to the architectural period or style.
A decorative medallion-shaped round, oval, or square, applied to the center of the ceiling at the light fixture or fan, to add ceiling relief and to soften the point of attachment between fixture and ceiling.
A molding applied directly against the plaster wall parallel with the floor and baseboard generally 30″ to 48″ above the floor; used to add wall definition and to protect wall from chair backs.
A molding used to decoratively finish an inside or outside corner where a mitered joint would not be satisfactory.
A square block with a turned center profile used as a decorative stop for casings at the top corners of door and window openings.
A molding applied where wall meets ceiling; to crown the wall and to enhance and detail the transition between wall and ceiling. Cornice size is determined by ceiling height. Fluster cornice generally allows more sculpted detail than wood.
A molding with a concave face profile used in varying sizes in a right angle to soften the transition from one surface to another.
A large family of moldings which are designed to gracefully flare out to a finished top edge; generally used for capping walls, pilasters, cabinets. These moldings are used extensively in the creation of interior and exterior cornice assemblies and door and window hoods.
A decorative molding in repeating projecting block pattern used in cornice assemblies.
egg & dart
A relief molding consisting of an egg-shaped figure alternating with a dart; used as a bed molding horizontally to smooth the transition of a fight angle and to add definition under any ledge or overhang. Interior and exterior applications are common.
The part of a classical temple above the columns between a capital and the roof. The entablature is commonly divided in the architrave, the part immediately above the column, frieze, the central space and cornice, and the upper projecting moldings.
A decorative chain or cluster hanging between two points usually applied on exterior walls in a repeat pattern under roof overhangs, and centered inside wall panels.
A heavy molding or assembly of molding used around the firebox facing of a fireplace.
A random length of flat board void of detail or profile used in the construction of molding assemblies.
Any sculptured or richly ornamented band in a building. Often described as part of the entablature of an order which is between the architrave and the cornice. It is a flat member or face, either uniform or broken by triglyphs, and is often enriched by figures or other ornamentation.
A molding with profile on one edge only; used in the construction of molding assemblies.
A family of moldings with a half-circle profile in varying diameters; used for creating horizontal and vertical bands and for increasing the relief on flat molding surfaces.
The upper-most part of a stair balustrade, used for gripping.
A rectangular block with a turned center profile used as a decorative stop for single-piece casings at the top corners of door and window openings. Generally these are found in more formal areas of the house vs. corner blocks in less formal areas.
The main post used in a stair balustrade assembly to terminate and support the handrail and baluster components.
A molding with half round and cove profile used to define and/or enhance horizontal lines such as on shelf edges, stair treads, newel post banding, and porch landings.
A family of moldings of varying profiles and sizes generally used to create and/or define panels either on flat surfaces or in recessed panels. These are used for both interior and exterior assembly of panels, cornices, paneled wainscoting, and base board assemblies.
A molding mounted horizontally on walls at varying distances below the ceiling or cornice and used to hang pictures or simply define the frieze area under the cornice.
A fine vertical member, rectangular in plan with capital and base used against walls to repeat or simulate columns.
A shelf-like crown profile with grooves cut in its top surface to hold plates or other decorative display dishes in kitchens, dining rooms, or restaurants. Applied at least six feet from the floor with coves or bed moldings underneath.
A molding with a quarter circle profile; used in eight angles to soften the transition from one surface to another.
These are small sculptured details.
A molding or assembly of moldings running horizontally to form a base ledge under the upright casings on the interior and exterior of windows.
A thin molding of varying widths used for holding windows in place or for stopping doors on closure.
A molding used to terminate the exterior stucco at doors, windows, and other wall openings.
tongue & groove
An interlocking molding with a repeating pattern used for covering walls, ceilings, and as a major component in T&G wainscoting assemblies.
A cap molding for wainscoting assemblies.
Any assembly of moldings (or moldings with wallcovering) used to cover and enhance the lower portion of walls, generally 30″-60″ in height from the floor. Thickness will vary with type.