Glossary of Terms,
Antique Furniture



Rabbet: Rectangular slot or groove in joinery. Also a recess in the meeting stiles of cabinet doors so that one shuts against the other to form a dust proof joint.
Rails: Horizontal members of framed furniture. In beds, the long sidepieces. In casework, the framing that holds the sides together.
Rake: The angles of a slanted or splayed member, such as a chair back or table leg that is not strictly vertical.
Random Joints: Joints in either veneer or solid board walls or floors, in which there is no attempt at matching either grain or width of boards.
Range Tables: Several identical small tables planned to be used together as one long table.
Recamier: Chaise lounge shaped like an ancient Roman bed or reclining couch with graceful curved high end. Named after Madame Recamier.
Recessed Stretcher: Middle or cross stretcher of chair or table set back from the front legs.
Recliner: Lounge chair with adjusts to various positions, including reclining; usually incorporated a hidden footrest.
Reeding: Two or more beads set closely in parallel lines, either flush with or raised above the surface they decorate. The reverse of fluting.
Refectory Table: Long narrow table so called after the refectory or dining room of the monks in ecclesiastical institutions of the Middle Ages.
Regence: French period covering the end of Louis XIV's reign, until the accession of Louis XV, about 1680-1725. It is marked by the transitional from massive straight lines to the gracious, curved, intimate style of Louis XV.
Regency: English period, roughly 1793-1820, during part of which George, Prince of Wales, late George IV, acted as Regent. Furniture style is marked by declining classic influence of Pompeiian studies, and increasing use of Roman, Egyptian, and earlier Greek Styles. It coincides with the Directoire and Empire styles.
Relief: Raised ornament or sculpture in which the carving is raised or above the background. Various styles are characterized by high or low relief carving.
Renaissance: Literally "rebirth." Signifies period (1400-1700) when, beginning in Italy, classic Greco-Roman art and architectural sources were tapped again for design inspiration, eventually supplanting Gothic throughout Europe. Massive furniture, at first simple, later highly ornate and heavily carved.
Rent Table: 18th Century English round or octagonal pedestal table with drawers marked with days of the week or dates. They were used by the landlord as a sort of filing arrangement in collecting rents.
Replica: Reproduction or copy of a piece of furniture, usually old or historic period; accurately copied from the original in all details of material, technique, detail, and finish.
Repousse: Decorative sheet-metal work in which the design is hammered forward from the back.
Reproduction: "Reproductions" in furniture refer to copies of old pieces of historic styles. Good reproductions follow they original in all matters of material, method, and detail through-out; it is a moot point whether the finish and patina with all the marks of wear should be duplicated. An accurate copy if made in the period of the original would be a replica. But if the piece is made later it would be a copy or reproduction, and if sold as a genuinely old piece it would be a fake. Commercially made pieces that merely follow external form without regard to materials or the technique are copies or adaptations, more or less accurate; they are called reproductions only by commercial courtesy.
Restoration: Period in English history, succeeding the Puritan Revolution, beginning in 1660 with the restoration of the monarchy of Charles II and ending in 1688 in the Bloodless Revolution. It is the first part of the Age of Walnut. The Baroque influence appears in the Restoration's sweeping curves and generous ornamentation, which caused oak to be replaced by the more easily worked walnut. The period is also referred to "Carolean," "Late Jacobean," or "Charles II."
Restoration Chair: A typical English 17th Century form with high caned back, turned legs, and richly carved scroll design on the front stretcher and top rail.
Return Mold: A molding running from the front to the rear of a cabinet.
Riband: Ribbon ornament. In some Chippendale chairs the splats simulate elaborately arranged ribbons. Ribbons in bows or knots were important in Louis XVI decoration and were characteristically treated in German Rococo work of the 18th Century.
Rinceau: Continuous ornament of spiral or wavy form, sometimes called the branching scroll when intertwined with stems and leaves.
Rising Stretcher: Serpentine or X-stretchers curving up toward the intersection; found in Louis XIV and allied styles.
Rocking Chair: A uniquely American piece of furniture developed in the Colonial period, it consists of a chair mounted on curved runners which create a rocking motion when the unit is occupied.
Rococo: An 18th Century European style of elaborate decoration based on natural forms including flowers, fruit, leaves, shells, and rocks (rocaille) from which its name is derived. Mass forms of these motifs are imaginative and asymmetrical.
Roll top: In desks, a tambour or flexible cylindrical hood drawn down as a lid.
Romayne Work: Carved medallions of human heads.
Room Dividers: Any piece of furniture or any other article which performs the architectural function of partitioning a room.
Rope Mold: 18th Century decorative molding, quarter or half round, spiral channeled to simulate a rope.
Rosette: Rose-shaped patera or disk ornament.
Rotary Cut: Method of slicing veneer; log of wood cut so it resembles paper coming off a roll.
Roundabout Chair: A corner chair with one front leg, one back leg, one on either side, a rectangular seat placed on the diagonal and a circular back rail supported by three uprights, usually extensions of the back and side legs.
Roundel: Any ornamental disk or motive enclosed in a circular shape, such as a rosette, medallion, patera, etc.
Routing: Decorative engraved lines made by a portable revolving spindle.
Rule Joint: Hinged joint, as between a table top and flap, which leaves no open space when the leaf is down.
Runner: Sometimes the rocker of a rocking chair; Also a guide strip for a drawer, either on the side or the bottom.
Rush: Stem of a marsh-growing plant, a sea grass, used to weave chair seats.