Tuesday August 05, 2014

     Crosskeys Antiques - Fine European Decorative Furniture and Accessories

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                             A - B - C - D - E - F - G - H - I - J - K - L - M - N - O - P - Q - R - S - T - U - V - W - X - Y - Z


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The fiber used in the decorative accessories is obtained from the leaf stalks of the Abaca plant. Sometimes known as Manila hemp, Cebu hemp or Davao hemp. The Abaca plant is not related to true hemp.

The plant is native to the Philippines and became an important cord fiber in the 19th century. It is also grown in Malaysia and Central America on plantations. Closely related to the banana plant, which it resembles, the Philippines remains the world's largest producer. The plant when mature reaches a height of fifteen to twenty-five feet. The fiber comes from the plant stalks when mature, which are by then eight to twelve inches in diameter. The fiber-bearing outer layer is removed and scraped free of the inner pulp. The fibers are then sun dried. The strands average three to nine feet in length depending on the height of the stalk.

It is valued for its exceptional strength, flexibility, buoyancy and resistance to damage by salt water. Abaca fiber is used for ships, ropes, hawsers and cables. Some Abaca is used for carpets, tablemats and paper. The plants inner fibers can be used without spinning to make lightweight, strong fabrics for garments, hats and shoes.


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Brass is an alloy (mixture of two or more metals) of copper and zinc, with a greater percentage of copper than zinc. The combination gives this metal alloy its golden color.

Like its sister metal, bronze, it can be cast, hammered, engraved, and embossed to form a variety of shapes and textures. Its particular composition makes it extremely flexible enabling it to be formed into thin sheets and wire.

Like bronze, it can be cast using either the lost-wax method or the less expensive sand-cast technique. (See the following bronze section for an explanation of these casting procedures).

GENERAL CARE:  Some of our brass items such as, candlesticks, desk and decorative accessories, etc. are not lacquered and will need occasional polishing with any good commercial brass cleaner. Please follow manufacturer's instructions. Brass mounting on lamps and furniture ARE lacquered however; and need only a soft dry cloth to keep clean.

Our collection of bronze patina accessories owes its success to a combination of good design wed to a material with a high recognition factor. Like porcelain and crystal, bronze enjoys a long history as a luxury material. Prized for it's durability and attractive surface patina, bronze has, from its earliest uses, been associated with wealth and royalty. In the hands of artists and craftsmen this highly malleable metal can be cast and worked to a standard equaled only by works in more precious metals, such as, gold, silver and platinum.

The material itself is an alloy that is a combination of metals, in this case, copper and tin. In its mint condition it has a color similar to gold, which accounts for its original appeal. Most ancient bronze was cast or worked to remain in this highly polished golden color. However; if not maintained or protected from the elements, bronze will slowly develop a patina, or surface color depending on which elements it has been exposed to. Like a newly minted copper penny it will slowly darken to a warm rich brown as it is circulated. When in contact with salts or certain corrosives it will turn green, the verdigris patina often seen on excavated antiquities such as Greek and Roman artifacts. Various historical revival cycles, from renaissance to the present have cultivated the popularity of patina finishes, thus extending the range of surface colors from the original bright gold to a variety of rich brown metal patinas from warm burnished brown to its darkest statuary black bronze as well as a variety of verdigris patinas.

Art students are taught that modeling and casting are among the "plastic" arts. That is to say that the metal in its molten state is "liquid" enough to form or cast into almost any shape. The finest castings are achieved with the lost wax method. This process entails making a casting in wax from the original object, surrounding the wax copy with a cement like plaster mold, then heating the mold until the wax runs out or is "lost". What remains in the plaster / cement, which originally covered the wax, is
an impression or mold of the wax object. When this mold or impression is filled with molted bronze, the result is an exact, detailed copy of the wax object. Like the thieves, who in old movies would make a wax impression of a key, steal away to make an exact copy, then return to loot the house, wax is the preferred material as its surface can take and hold the minutest details.

The second method of casting some of the bronzeware is the sand-cast method. Here too, a mold is created, but in this case pressing the object to be reproduced into two matching trays filled with fine damp sand, specially selected and graded for the technique that forms the mold. When the two trays are put together they form a mold into which molten metal is poured. When cool, the mold is separated and the object revealed.

Whether lost-wax or sand-cast, the resulting object is trimmed of mold marks, hand chased to emphasize details, then either polished or treated to create the desired patina.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth.


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The cast resin product used in some of our reproduction merchandise enables the production of items,  which if hand carved in wood or cast in metal would be prohibitive in cost. The cast resin product has gained wide acceptance in the home furnishing industry, and has taken its place alongside older techniques of casting.

The process, like all casting methods requires a mold, which must be created from an original three dimensional model. The model may be an antique or a newly carved or cast prototype. Once the mold is ready, the resin mixture is poured into the mold and allowed to set. After removal from the mold the casting is cleaned of mold marks and is ready for finishing.

As a material resin easily accepts a variety of finishes and textures. In the hands of a skilled worker the possibilities are limited only by the imagination of the designer. Finishes currently shown in our collection include faux wood, faux stone, verdigris, antique gold and silver metal leaf and antique metal patinas.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth.

Origins of the term celadon are obscure, what etymologists lack in fact, they more than make up for in theories. The most common, points to a 17th-century French play, Honore' d'Urfe's 'L' Astre'e. which features a character named Ce'ladon who's always dressed in gray-green. Egyptian experts champion the cause of Saladin, the sultan said to have sent 40 pieces of the stoneware to the Sultan of Damascus in 1171.
Classical scholars cite another reference in the seventh book of the Iliad, Homer writes of the bluish-green waters of the Celadon River. Meanwhile, a contemporary celadon manufacturer in Bangkok claims that the word is derived from the Sanskrit terms for "stone" and "to wear", a notion that suggests the objects are "sheathed in stone". Antique Chinese celadon pottery, displays a palette of lustrous glazes that range from soft sea green to something short of apple green, often straying into tones of gray, blue, or olive brown. Finishes may be smooth or crackled.

First kilned around the third century BC, celadon hit its high-water mark during China's Song Dynasty (960-1279). The luscious greens that define antique celadon resulted from variables in the potting process: kiln temperature, firing time, the type of clay used, and the composition of the glaze. The type of fuel used to fire the kilns also affected color.

Kilns in Northern Song provinces, for instance, depended on locally plentiful coal. Iron in the glaze combined with oxygen to produce olive green or even brownish-green tones. Southern Song pieces, in contrast, were born of smoky wood fires, which produced a more limpid bluish-green hue. With occasional exceptions, pieces contained scant decoration. Form and glaze were everything, and this utter simplicity was their signature appeal.

Beautiful celadons, often larger in scale, also were produced in the succeeding Yuan (1280-1368) and Ming (1369-1644) dynasties. However; the buying public in Europe and Asia became increasingly attracted to the new blue and white porcelains and, later, to the brilliantly colored wares for which the Ming Dynasty is justly revered. The production of celadon declined and ended in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912).

Celadon was made in many useful forms: plates, bowls, incense burners, vases, covered boxes, brush pots, etc.  Our reproduced celadon reflects the classic, clean lines associated with antique pieces, if not the delicacy of colors and glazes. And they come in the familiar forms found in the traditional Chinese ceramics - vases, ginger jars,

bowls, chargers and boxes.

Whether antique or reproduction, celadon ceramics are at home in all kinds of traditional interiors. Their basic neutral color bridges every era and stylistic period.


GENERAL CARE: Clean with a soft damp cloth, mild soaps if needed. Do NOT use in dishwasher.



COROMANDEL is named after the Coromandel Coast in South Eastern India from where the carved screens were originally dispatched to the west by European merchants.

The art of making coromandel requires a skilled hand, a trained eye and a great deal of patience. The frame of the screen or furniture item is made from laminated wood, which is then sanded and sealed with a mixture of dried animal blood and fat and covered with a thin layer of rice paper. After drying, another coat is applied, dried again and then sanded. The third coat is mixed with 50% lime, which solidifies the sealer into a slate-hard finish.

This is followed by the application of five to six coats of fine China clay, each layer trowelled on smoothly and dried for a day before sanding. The entire preparation for each panel of the screen often takes more than a week. Finally, several layers of background color are applied and when dry, a rice paper drawing of the design to be incised is pasted onto the surface. The piece is then ready to be carved.

Coromandel carvers are the most skilled of artists. They must carefully outline the faces and hands of sometimes minute figures, carving the smallest of details such as hair and foliage. This they do with the blade of a special knife, which must not pierce the rice paper imbedded under the thin layer of hardened lacquer and clay.

When the carving is complete, bright colors are painted into the areas that have been carved out and gold metal leaf is skillfully applied to highlight the decoration. In
~ some cases the decoration may be entirely of gold metal
leaf. Finally, the piece is antiqued to soften the colors and simulate the tone and finish of the originals.

Telling the difference between old and new coromandel can be extremely difficult if the new piece is well executed and antiqued. The original pieces however usually show signs of flaking and chipping and are becoming increasingly rare and therefore are commanding extremely high prices. Although a contemporary version costs significantly less, with the increasing demand and growing shortage of skilled carvers and painters, a new coromandel of the finest quality has not only aesthetic, but also enormous investment value.

GENERAL CARE: Light Murphy's Oil Soap/water, then dry with a dry cloth.

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As with all the reproduction pieces Crosskeys Antiques carries, the decorative metal hardware, whether brass, bronze, silver or aluminum is of the highest caliber.

The drawer pulls, handles and finer mountings are made in the lost-wax investment casting method. (See the section on bronze for a detailed explanation).

All decorative hardware is lacquered. Some items are antiqued to enhance their details before lacquering.

Many of the larger metal fittings are produced using the sand-cast technique. (refer to the bronze section for an explanation).

The decorative hardware that is used is a faithful reproduction of the antique original. This attention to detail is what makes the lines of reproduction furniture and accessories we carry the finest available.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth.


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Jean Michael Frank, a Frenchman.
The use of natural lacquer as a decorative and protective coating in China dates back nearly two thousand years. The technique of laying down successive coats of clear or colored lacquer as a decorative craft can be found in East Asia where the Lac tree grows. Natural lacquer is a product of the sap of this tree, a member of the Sumac family.


Centuries of experimentation, first in East Asia, and eventually in Europe has resulted in the incorporation of a variety of stable materials chosen to enhance the decorative appeal of this lustrous natural material. These materials are captured under successive layers of lacquer. Each layer is hand applied, allowed to dry, and then buffed before another layer is applied.

People who live near the sea have incorporated mother-of-pearl and Abalone shells, while inland chicken and duck eggs are used. Other materials used include gold and silver both powdered and in leaf form.

Most of the reproduction products we carry use white and toasted eggshells to create micro-mosaic decorative patterns. Toasting eggshells by submerging them in heated fine sand results in a range of colors from white through warm tans to dark browns.

The artisans employ this monochromatic palette to create designs that become the covering of a wide range of decorative furniture and accessories. The final product is a smooth surface of many layers of lacquer. While it is a time consuming process, the realities are unique, durable, and exhibit the qualities of hand workmanship that is one of the fine hallmarks of the reproductions we carry. The deep lustrous quality of the lacquer reveals the micro-mosaic patterns captured in this highly decorative medium.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth.



In the engraving process, the image or print, as it is called, is derived from ink that is below the surface of the plate. The design is scratched, cut into a printing surface or plate, which can be copper, steel, lead, zinc, plastic, even coated paper or wood. The printing ink is rubbed into the incisions of grooves and the surface is wiped clean of ink leaving it in the lines or incisions. The taking of a print is done under great pressure, which is actually an embossing process forcing the paper into the incised lines taking the ink away from the grooves. The process leaves what is called a plate mark in the paper, an impression of the outline of the entire plate. The process is the most versatile printmaking technique as it can produce a wide range of effects from the most delicate to the boldest.

The design is cut into the metal plate with a tool called a graver or burin. The burin is a steel rod with a square or lozenge-shaped section and a slightly bent shank. Pushing the burin into the metal plate does the cutting. The deeper the cut, the wider the resulting line when printed. Variations in depth of a single line create the swelling-tapering character of the engraved line. Once the engraving is finished, the slight burr raised by the graver is cleaned away with a scraper.

The collection of both hand colored and black and white engravings are part of a tradition in fine art that is over 500 years old. Skilled artists using watercolors over the black ink printed engravings create the hand colored edition.

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Varnish made from the sap of the Rhus Vernicifera plant, which is found only in Asia, and is applied in layers, which are polished to a high gloss, then carved and/ or painted in relief.


A lustrous and durable natural varnish, it derives its' name from the lac tree, native to the country's southern and central Provinces. The lacquer of Fuzhou has, for centuries, been regarded as one of the famous arts of China. It is completely handmade from natural lacquer and involves hours of exquisite workmanship, characterizing the traditions and designs of the Orient.


Silk Lacquer is made by adhering silk fabric to a mold with a thin layer of the finest liquid lacquer. Layer after thin layer is applied and each coating is allowed to dry thoroughly before being polished and re-coated. This same process is repeated many times until the article is smooth and strong enough for the mold to be removed, leaving a highly polished, light but durable object. This can be decorated further with the most detailed of painting and coloring and then finally re-polished to expose the depth and shine unique to the finest quality lacquer. Examples of such work can be seen in some of our reproduction accessory collections, which include sets of beautiful trays and exquisitely designed boxes.


These products undergo the same processes of repeated coating and polishing as silk lacquer, but the original mold is carved from seasoned wood and remains at the core of the completed object making it suitable for both large items of furniture as well as for the smallest of accessories. It is a very versatile medium and can be decorated with color and gold leaf, as seen in some of the Crosskeys Antiques high gloss lacquer collection, or more traditionally in the raised Chinoiserie collection.

In the 17th Century artisans discovered that numerous applications of lacquer eventually created a crust thick enough to incise with landscapes, traditional patterns and figures. This is known as incised lacquer. Since each layer of this lacquer must dry separately, the process can take weeks or months to complete. The colors most commonly used are red, obtained from cinnabar ore, and black, from iron sulfate. Often, both layers are carved to their respective depths.

The process involved in transforming a copper vase or box into an incised lacquer piece begins with the application of an undercoat glaze to adhere to the lacquer. Up to 200 coats of lacquer are required to build up a base approximately one half an inch thick; a refined emulsion coat completes the initial process. The tracing of the design must then be completed while the top layer of lacquer is still soft. Fine pointed tools incise the hardened varnish to form the desired pattern; polishing or burnishing is accomplished with slate powders rubbed with the palm of the hand.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a lightly damp, soft cloth.


The Crosskeys Antiques reproduction European lamp collection employs the same fine materials found throughout the entire reproduction  line. The diversity of the reproduction lamp collection  reflects the design and style direction of our reproductions and compliments the furniture and accessory offerings.

Materials include wood, bronze, brass, leather, iron, stone, nickel, rattan, copper, ceramics and porcelain. Here too, handcrafted traditional methods of manufacturing are used to create the lamps, their mountings, as well as, the shades.

Attention to detail in the mountings and shading are important to the overall appearance of each lamp. Solid brass, bronze and genuine hard woods are used in the mounts and bases. Shade size and design are important to the overall design and contribute considerably to a lamp's success. Whether a translucent or opaque shade is used can also make a design contribution, as can surface treatment, applied decoration or use of a particular shade material such as leather, woven metal or paint on card.

The size of the complete lamp often determines its use. Desk lamps are considered task lamps and, as such, are usually 30 inches tall or less. This height combined with the desk top surface of 29 or 30 inches brings the top of the shade to approximately 5 feet off the floor, which is about eye level and thus enables the shade, to shade direct light from a users eyes. End table lamps are about 32 to 34 inches tall, a larger lamp as needed to bring the shade up to eye level. Taller lamps, often in narrow silhouettes are used to great effect in halls, entrances and public areas where seating is not a consideration. This allows for dramatic effects without having to be concerned with seeing the bulb from a seated position.

All lamps with an Edison base socket are capable of using a three-way bulb, usually a 30-70-100 watt "A" bulb. Lamps with a candelabra base socket can take a bulb up to 60 watts, the highest wattage available in a candelabra base bulb.

We suggest using frosted bulbs for the best decorative results. Clear bulbs tend to create hot spots in translucent shades and often cause harsh shadows.

GENERAL CARE: Use only a soft, dry cloth or reference other cleaning instructions for the particular material.


Hand tooled leather's long association with the fine art of bookbinding, as well as its use on traditional furniture, gives this appealing material a high recognition factor with an emphasis on quality. Our collection of leather covered decorative accessories and occasional furniture echoes these associations by using the same techniques and time honored workmanship to create this handsome offering. The book boxes, dummy books and occasional furniture pieces were designed with this recognition factor in mind.

As with all the reproduction products we carry, quality of workmanship and materials, combined with good design are the hallmarks and uniqueness of our reproduction furniture and accessories. The book design group has the added appeal of being both functional as well as decorative. Starting with the construction through to the final polishing, all steps of the manufacturing process are used. All leathers are hand laid and trimmed then undergo a lengthy, multi-step step process of coloring and hand-padding to bring out the natural character of the leather such as natural scars and wrinkles. The techniques employed were developed long before the introduction of chemical dyes and stains in the nineteenth century. After the leather has been colored and antiqued it is ready for the hand tooling, and applied decoration used by bookbinders and furniture makers. Tooling, whether it is blind or gold serves to enhance the surface appeal of the leather. The natural tactile impressions of the tools create decorative patterns that please the eye and invite the hand to touch and appreciate the handsome surface.

The final steps consist of antiquing the tooling, both gold metal leaf and blind, to harmonize with the antique character of the hand-padded coloring. The gold metal leaf is burnished and rubbed to a warm patina. The blind tooling is filled with selected glazes. Once the craftsman is satisfied with the results, the surface is finished with the finest available lacquers. The lacquers are formulated expressly for use on leather and impart the same protection to its surface, as do lacquers on quality wood furniture.

GENERAL CARE: Use Murphy's Oil Soap and a clean soft cloth or other non-silicone products. Use oil with a dab of water on cloth to remove dust and other dirt.
PAPER STICKING: Damp cloth (water).
MILDEW: Light application of mineral spirits, then go over with Murphy's Oil Soap.
WHITE SUBSTANCE: Use furniture polish (without silicon), spray the area with the white substance and rub with soft cloth. In areas with high humidity this procedure will need to be performed on a regular basis.


Man made crystal or lead crystal is a heavy and durable glass characterized by its brilliance, clarity and highly refractive quality. Developed by the Englishman George Ravenscroft in 1675, it ushered in a new style of glass making and eventually made England the leading glass producer of the world.

The first clear crystal Ravenscroft produced, called flint glass because calcified flint was used as a base, decayed after a period of time. This fault was overcome by adding lead oxide to produce lead crystal (flint glass is still a synonymous term for lead crystal although flint is no longer part of its composition).

Lead crystal is also used to make lenses and prisms. Because it absorbs most ultraviolet light, but comparatively little visible light,  it is used for telescope lenses. The light dispersive power of lead crystal can be made twice as high as that of regular or common glass (of soda-lime composition).

Common glass is made from sand, limestone, and sodium carbonate. Sand (silicon dioxide) can be fused and is an excellent glass, but the temperature needed to melt the sand is above 1,700 degrees Celsius (3,092° degrees P) it is very expensive to pro- duce. In order to reduce the temperature (melting point) a flux is added, this is the purpose of the sodium carbonate (soda ash) which makes available the fluxing agent sodium oxide. By adding about 23% of the sodium oxide, the melting point is reduced from 1,723°c to 850°c (3,133°P to 1,562°P). However, such glass is easily soluble in water. With the addition of lime (calcium oxide) supplied by limestone, the glass is rendered insoluble. The best formula is 75% sand, 10% lime and 15% soda.

Crystal or flint glass is made by using lead oxide as the flux. Then it is possible to obtain a glass with a highly refractive quality and consequently the sparkle and brilliance of fine crystal.

In the 17th century the English crown granted monopolies. One was the Worshipful Company of Glass Sellers, reincorporated in 1664 after the Restoration. Unhappy with the quality of glass and raw materials imported from Venice (Murano), they commissioned George Ravenscroft to experiment with native materials hoping to improve on the quality of Venetian clear or "crystallo" glass. In 1675 he created "glass of lead". The new glass worked slower, i.e. it did not cool as quickly allowing artisans
more time to shape the material than the Italian clear glass and gradually the Venetian formula was dropped. This new crystal set the standard for the rest of Europe. It was solid and heavy and more durable than the Italian product.

Engraving was an early form of decorating glass, practiced in England, Italy, Holland and Germany. Far more important to the development of decorative techniques, was the art of cutting. An abrasive covered wheel attached to a treadle and cooled by water is used to cut decorative lines in the crystal. Earliest pieces date from 1725. Early cutting was shallow using diamonds, hexagons, flutes and scale patterns, produced by holding the glass at an angle to the cut- ting wheel. Combinations of these elements were used to produce designs of great beauty and complexity. The period from 1745 to 1779 is referred to as the golden age of English cutting. Great richness of effect became popular. Eventually by the end of the 18th century, when technique was further developed in Ireland, the whole surface of glass was being deeply cut to reflect light.

Our fine reproduction, hand cut crystal collection has 24% lead content, the standard for fine quality worldwide. Most of the crystal used in some of our reproduction collection is manufactured in Russia.

GENERAL CARE: A soft, dry cloth is recommended for cleaning. Fingerprints and other marks may be cleaned with a damp cloth and mild hand soap. When mounted with brass or other metal the same mild soap and a damp cloth are suggested, do not allow water to run freely into metal parts, thus a damp cloth is best.


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The advent of mahogany furniture dates back to the Palladian period in England (around 1731) when architectural classic styles gradually gained more importance than sculptural furniture. The dark and beautiful grained surface of mahogany demanded less ornamentation; its importance and usage grew subsequently. Mahogany was an expensive wood, certainly when compared to walnut, and was then imported from San Domingo and Cuba and became an obvious
characteristic of Mid-Georgian furniture. Mahogany I is strong and tough and lends itself to fine and lively carvings and can also be cut into fine wide sheets of veneer, with a fine grain or figured with a curl or flame. The Mid-Eighteenth century saw mahogany come to the fore also on Rococo and particularly Chippendale design furniture. Imported mahogany from the West Indies became the finest wood used. Also, in American furniture, cabinet-makers such as Thomas Affleck and the influence of Chippendale designs led to a thriving furniture industry from the 1760's until the end of the century. Up to current times, mahogany remains a much sought after wood for quality furniture making worldwide.

In the making of the reproduction mahogany furniture, craftsmen select and purchase the finest Philippine and Indonesian mahogany wood, which is then kiln dried to remove unwanted moisture content. After kiln drying, the wood is machine-cut in line with full size drawings issued and then forwarded for hand assembly and hand carving. Great care is put into the assembly of an item, with an individual carpenter assembling one particular item, following carefully the detail of the full-size drawing.

Square logs of Philippine mahogany are also sliced into thin sheets of veneer with the finest patterns being selected for tabletops and secretary falls, etc. The veneer is chosen and spliced, laid-out and then pressed onto the relevant individually cut part of an item of furniture before final assembly. Once fully assembled, an item is then hand sanded and then forwarded to the finishing department. There it is polished to match the approved mahogany finish.

GENERAL CARE: Murphy's Oil Soap and water or any non-silicone furniture polish. Wipe with clean, soft cloth. BRIWAX is the finest wax available and also cleans the wood as well as polishes.


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All of the reproduction oil paintings we carry are hand painted by skilled artisans. The canvas is applied to a thin sheet of graded marine plywood to protect the stretched surface from damage and to prevent buckling and rippling of the canvas surface.

As each painting is executed by hand, some variation does result from one canvas to another. These slight variations are considered to be indications of handwork and are part of the inherent value of the finished artwork.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth.


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Our painted reproduction furniture takes many forms and represents a number of historic periods. Many of our items are completely covered in painted decorations, while some, true to late 18th century prototypes have modest classic decorations applied over the wood veneers and solids. In some cases, our furniture has been covered with canvas, then prepared for painting and decorating.

Fully painted and decorated furniture often has its roots in provincial, or country inspired designs. The relaxed, less formal restraints of the provinces combined with more modest economics often result in a unique, highly decorative furniture form, often exhibiting local, regional or national taste.

All of the reproduction furniture we carry  is painted by hand. No stencils or screens are used to create or aid in the decoration.

GENERAL CARE: Do not use any cleansers on fully painted furniture as it may affect the finish. Use only a soft, dry cloth. In the case of painted decorations on wood, a non-silicone furniture cleaner may be used. Follow manufacturer's directions.



Porcelain was first made by the Chinese during the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-906). Marco Polo, visiting China in the 13th century thought its glass-like surface and texture resembled a cowrie shell which to him looked like a little pig and called the material "porcellana" or little pig in Italian.

Its earliest manufacture was under the control of the Emperors and used exclusively by the aristocracy for food service and decoration. By the 16th century its manufacture was more widespread and many examples found their way to Europe. The Ming Dynasty (AD 1300-1644) saw the first painted decorations, applied to what heretofore had been only solid colors, usually white ware, although some colors such as celadon were available. The earliest painted decorations were applied directly to the molded body after it dried and hardened but before it was fired in the oven or kiln. This original decoration process is called underglaze as it was applied before the clear glass like glaze was applied. The first colors were limited to blue, red and green as these were obtained from natural materials and were stable enough to survive the high temperature required to fire the clay and not change color.

The 17th century saw the development of oven glaze decoration, which allowed for an almost unlimited variety of color decorations. These colors were also derived from natural minerals but were painted on top of the clear glaze after an initial firing at a very high temperature. These more unstable colored enamels were painted on the glazed surface and fired at lower temperatures until they fused with the surface glaze. The popularity of these multicolored glazes created a huge demand in Europe and the Americas and resulted in the export of millions of articles during the 18th and 19th centuries.

The making of porcelain begins with the selection of two special ingredients: "China Clay", or "Kaolin" (from Kao-Ling in China where it was first sourced), a fine white clay found in river beds and banks that comes from the weathering of rocks that contain feldspar, and "China Stone" or "Pentunse" a translucent material also found in China.

The materials are washed, pulverized, combined and allowed to mature. Water is then added to the mixture and a paste is made. The paste, now called clay can be diluted to syrup consistency then poured into gypsum molds, a casting process used to make a variety of articles. The clay can also be made in a thicker consistency and then thrown on a potters wheel for vessels, such as bowls and jars. After forming, articles are air-dried prior to decoration and glazing.

As a material, porcelain once glazed and fired, is hard, glass-like and non-porous. Porcelain was the preferred material for food service and storage. It is superior to pottery in density and its invention was a major technical advance in human civilization.

Porcelain manufacture was not developed in the West until the 17th century. Prior to that, all porcelain was imported from East Asia.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a damp, soft cloth. Mild soaps if needed.


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Shagreen is based on the Mid-Eastern word, Shagri, describing a rough hide. The art of shagreen was first used in Turkey during the 12th century. At that time the coarse, durable skins of sharks were inlaid on shields and used in battle. Shagreen is usually made from the skins of small sharks and ray-fish.

The skill of working this material was brought to France during the reign of Louis XlV. Under the patronage of the King, a Monsieur Galuchat established a workshop. There he began to use the hides for inlay work on snuff and pillboxes, sword hilts, and scientific instruments. Tanned, dyed, filed and treated, shagreen became a very sophisticated material to work with. It's unusual texture and extreme durability made it unique. The fact that it could be dyed caught the eye of the French aristocracy, who turned the new material into a popular fashion. Articles covered by Monsieur Galuchat became a must, so that even to this day Shagreen is referred to a Galuchat in France.

Since the 16th century, only very few craftsmen had used shagreen. The rarity, as well as, the difficulty of processing the skins, made it a luxury item. Supply was always elusive and seventeen steps were needed to convert the crude hide into a finished object.

It was not until the 1880's and 1890's that shagreen began to flourish again. However it's real renaissance started in the 1920's when it caught the eye of the Prince of Wales. The Prince, later the Duke of Windsor, commissioned tables, shooting sticks, humidors, cigarette cases and even toe-caps for his shoes in the rare material. A new craze started. In 1932, the Aga Khan had the interior of his Rolls Royce inlaid in shagreen, much to the amusement of his friends.

Only four workshops in Europe produced it. The most famous belonged to the French cabinetmaker Jacques-Emile Ruhlman, who first exhibited in 1913 and was active until his death in 1933. Ruhlman worked in rare woods and shagreen. As a furniture designer he had the greatest impact on the press and the public. His designs were of such distinction as to be considered above fashion. Another example for the use of Shagreen is a dollhouse on display in Windsor Castle. It was made as a gift for Queen Mary, complete with miniature walls, inlaid in pale shagreen.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth.

Our reproduction items made or decorated with stone have an antique glaze applied to the naturally white marble to suggest age. Kindly note that naturally occurring veins in the stone, which may be gray, brown, tan, gold, or black are part of the stone as quarried and are in no way considered a defect, but rather add character and visual appeal to this material.

GENERAL CARE:  Clean with a dry, soft cloth. View the Marble Wax we carry from BRIWAX.


The stone and shell reproduction collection is entirely handcrafted throughout the world by trained artisans and expert craftsmen. Every piece has been carefully designed and manufactured to enhance the various natural materials available to the craftsmen.

The many shell, agate and fossil finishes can be combined in numerous variations, creating exquisite and subtle color harmonies and contrasts. The fossil stones can be cut vertically or horizontally to expose further variations of color and shape in the fossilized life forms which are millions of years old. The brass inlaying, which is all completely hand worked, adds still more fine detail to the designs.

The furniture and accessories to which the stone or shell is applied are handmade from laminated wood to give the greatest strength and rigidity. Each frame is then carefully pencil marked over the entire surface to dictate the exact size and position of every piece of stone or shell and the lines that the brass inlay will follow.

The time and precision involved in creating each item is enormous. Every piece of shell is cut by hand from the curved inner surface of the shell case, and, as the pieces are rarely more than one-eighth of an inch thick, the breakage and wastage of such materials during the initial stage of manufacturing is unavoidably high.

Once the shell or stone has been cut, each piece is
individually filed to the correct shape before it is applied to the frame. It is estimated that there are, on average, 800 man-hours used in creating each unique dining table. Although, in the case of Chamber-Nautilus and Mellon Shell, where the natural object is particularly curved, or with the harder or more brittle stones and fossils, even more time and skill are required in cutting and shaping the materials before the painstaking task begins of applying and gluing each piece into position.

To achieve the "crackle" finish, the curved pieces of shell are cut to shape, then broken into many smaller pieces and stuck in position, taking great care not to lose or misplace any of the tiny chips which make up the minute puzzle. Different effects and coloration's can be achieved by spreading the pieces apart fractionally and by using colored resins with which to adhere the shell.

The next step in the manufacturing process is the polishing. With the exception of the corals which are fragile, and therefore laminated, all the finishes in this collection are simply the shells or stones, sanded, buffed and polished to their own unique finish, giving us the opportunity to fully appreciate the natural textures and colors of the materials. This, together with the exceptional workmanship, provides the heirlooms of the future in an unparalleled collection.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with water on soft cloth. To clean brass on stone table, put masking tape on stone and clean brass with brass cleaner.

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Terra Cotta comes from the Italian language and means baked earth. It is coarse clay in comparison to porcelain, most often seen in a warm rosy orange color. It is fired at lower temperatures than porcelain and is of a more porous nature. It can be decorated with colored glazes and formed either by casting in gypsum mold, thrown onto a potter's wheel or raised in a coiling method. A technique older than the potter's wheel, in which the clay is rolled into long snake-like length and coiled around and around to create a vase. The surface is then smoothed, obliterating the coils, then treated the same as an object wheel thrown or mold-cast. There are a number of our terra cotta objects which are decorated using paints and lacquers. This technique is called "cold color decoration" in order to distinguish it from a decoration or color glaze which is fired (baked on) in a kiln or oven. In cases where the cold color method of decoration is used, the item has a tag suggesting it be used for dry flower arrangements only, as water may soak through the porous body and harm the paint or lacquer decoration. As all items are hand made and decorated, variation in the glaze or decoration are part of the handmade character of such items and are not considered to be a detraction.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth. The "cold color decoration" method terra cotta is not intended for outdoor use, may discolor and deteriorate.

Tole, the word for painted tin in French, is usually decorative ware, and most often in the form of utilitarian objects such as boxes, cachepots, planters and vases. In its original antique version, Tole was a less expensive decorative substitute for porcelain, and faience ware.

Today the antiques are highly sought after, while reproductions help satisfy the demand. These hand- made and decorated items are prized for their charm and relaxed sophistication.

All of the reproduction Tole we carry  are hand painted on a hand formed carcass or body by cutting, bending and joining sheet metal, as well as, the forming of round forms by spinning flat sheets into pots, jars and urns on a lathe. The results are a wide variety of shapes and sizes that are then ready for decoration.

Skilled artisans use both oil paints and lacquers. Clear coatings protect all surfaces. Since the items are made of ferrous metals which can rust in spite of paint and lacquer protection, only dry floral arrangements are recommended. Do not use Tole to hold any liquids or wet material such as water or planting mediums.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth. Do not use as a container to hold water or wet materials as rust may result.


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Reverse Glass Painting

This is a French term for "Gold Glass"; derived from the name of a Parisian frame maker of the eighteenth century, Jean-Baptise Glomy (died 1786) who adopted the process for decorating the mounts of glass-paintings. It was established as a technical term, by its use as such, in the catalog of the Musee de Cluny; Paris, 1852.

The technique of painting on the back, or reverse side of the glass from the viewer, requires an understanding of how the final work will be seen, as well as, an adjustment of the traditional method of laying down the paint or lacquer.

Example: When painting on wood, canvas or other traditional surfaces, the artist lays down a base color and then proceeds to enhance the color in order to achieve various effects. Shading, highlighting, marbleizing, glazing and other techniques are done over the base color. When painting on glass the process of laying down paint is reversed. Thus, if a glaze is required to soften or antique a gilded area, the glaze is applied first as a thin transparent veil and then the gold leaf or gold paint is applied over it. When viewed from the front, the gold will be seen as antiqued or mellowed by the glaze.

The technique results in a painted surface, which is protected by the glass. Objects rendered in this way take on an intriguing, lustrous appearance similar to porcelain, fine enamel work or lacquer. Artisans have employed the process in Europe, East Asia and North Africa for over 250 years.

GENERAL CARE: A soft cloth may be used to dust the surface. A damp cloth, may be used with mild soap to remove fingerprints.


The reproduction Venetian glass mirror ware we carry is handmade. Developed by Venetian artists, this decorative combination of cut, beveled and engraved mirror sections used to decorate looking glasses, furniture and interiors dates to the 17th century.

The mirrors, accessories and furniture pieces are handmade in the traditional manner. Each glass section is hand cut, beveled, wheel engraved and polished. The sections are then mirrored prior to assembly. As with all handmade articles, slight variations in the decoration are a natural result of the manufacturing process and, like the antique originals, are enhanced by such characteristics.

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The use of rattan and its refined form of wicker in furniture and decorative articles have a long history in East Asia, as does its relative, bamboo. Located as it is, in the center of an area where this natural material grows, Crosskeys Antiques offers a wide range of products derived from this abundant and versatile vine. Rattan is the name of a fast growing tropical vine, which needs the support of tall trees to flourish. After harvest, the vine is boiled to preserve it from rotting and insects. Depending on it's final use and desired appearance it is subject to a variety of preparatory steps. If an item is to be covered in rattan peel, then the outer skin is removed and set aside. This is achieved by pulling the vine, now called a pole, as it has been cut into manageable lengths, through a four sided, open centered blade-like device. This cuts away the peel along with sufficient outer jigs to create elegant curves and spiral forms, long a signature of this kind of furniture. The wicker strands are soaked in water before weaving to assure flexibility. Weaving patterns are similar to basketry and vary from simple to complex.

Wicker furniture and decorative accessories enjoyed enormous popularity during the 19th century and grew in popularity with the technological advances of the period.

Both wicker and rattan have many decorative applications. We carry a wide variety of designs starting with a fine selection of magazine racks, up to ambitious furniture pieces including beds, sofas and chairs.

GENERAL CARE: Clean with a dry, soft cloth.


An aquatic plant of the pickerelweed family, consisting of five species native to tropical America. Some species float in shallow water; others are rooted in muddy stream banks and lakeshores. All have slender rootstocks, feathery roots, rosettes of stalked leaves, and few to many flowers arranged in spikes or clusters in the leaf axis.
The fiber is obtained from the leaves, which is air dried before use. The high cellulose content makes it suitable for making paper as well. The braided fibers used on our decorative accessories and furniture are unbleached, preserving the natural character of the plant.


Our reproduction line of wrought iron furniture is made by hand in the traditional manner using a forge and various blacksmithing tools. Little, if any, machinery is used in its manufacture. Each unique piece begins its' life in the forge where it is heated to a red hot state then hammered, bent, twisted and cut, into the necessary shape. Individual parts are constructed, then welded together to form the desired item. Once assembled the item is sandblasted to remove any rust, then coated with a primer to prevent corrosion and provide a base for any further finishing or coating to follow.

Final steps include coloring, the addition of surface textures and patinas along with quality checks.

The reproduction Iron furniture we carry is primarily wrought. Historically, iron furniture has been wrought or cast. Cast iron furniture, popular as garden or lawn furniture enjoyed enormous popularity during the 19th century, reproductions of which are currently available.

GENERAL CARE:  Wrought iron is not intended for outdoor use. However outdoor sealing products are available for personal use. Use soft, dry cloth to remove rust.

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