Decorative Arts and Antiques

last update: 8 February 2022

The term decorative arts is used for objects where their design and manufacture results in something both beautiful and functional. Wikipedia points to objects found in the interiors of buildings, for example, ceramic art, metalwork, furniture, jewellery, fashion, various forms of the textile arts and tableware are major groupings.

Wikipedia tells us that a true
antique is an item perceived as having value because of its aesthetic or historical significance, and often defined as at least 100 years old (or some other limit), although the term is often used loosely to describe any object that is old. An antique is usually an item that is collected or desirable because of its age, beauty, rarity, condition, utility, personal emotional connection, and/or other unique features. It is an object that represents a previous era or time period in human history. Vintage and collectible are used to describe items that are old, but do not meet the 100-year criterion.

Most antique dealers consider an item to be
vintage if it is at least 40 years old, but not yet an antique (100 years old).

collectible is any object regarded as being of value or interest to a collector. It can included items that are worth more now than when they were initially sold, because of their rarity and/or popularity (amongst collectors).

In addition the term
retro (from retrospective) is given to items which are at least 20 years old (but not yet 40 years old).

curio is a small, usually fascinating or unusual item sought by collectors, often equated with bric-à-brac.

Bric-à-brac, first used in the Victorian era, refers to lesser objets d'art forming collections of curios, such as elaborately decorated teacups and small vases, compositions of feathers or wax flowers under glass domes, decorated eggshells, porcelain figurines, painted miniatures or photographs in stand-up frames, and so on. Often they are ornament on mantelpieces, tables, and shelves. Usually bric-à-brac refers to items of modest value, often sold in street markets, etc.

My personal opinion is that a curio is what might interest me, and bric-à-brac is what does not interest me (but might well interest someone else).

My first foray into this complex but passionate domain is:-

What is Pottery and Ceramics? - is an introductory text describing what is the difference between pottery and ceramics, and explaining what earthenware, stoneware, and porcelain are, with examples. It includes short sections on Chinese porcelain in medieval Europe and European pottery from the 16th century.