The Thrilled Kitty Glossary
The world of art and antiques is filled with terms that can be vague, obscure, and downright confusing for the uninitiated, and unscrupulous dealers can use this confusion to mislead buyers. Our aim at Thrilled Kitty is to make finding and purchasing fantastic feline treasures easy and enjoyable for our visitors, and so on this page you’ll find definitions for some of the terms we use on our website that you might find unfamiliar. We try to make our descriptions as clear, accurate, and honest as we possibly can, because we want delighted customers who come back to us time and again.
If you have any questions about any of the items on our site that this page doesn’t help with please do get in touch with us.
Antique or Vintage?
This should be straightforward, but even these two simple terms can be used in very loose and variable ways. In the UK an antique is generally considered to be an item that is at least 100 years old, but even official legal definitions of antique vary: it is 100 years according to US Customs, for example, but 60 years for some US states and 80 years for others (a time derived from the span of two generations, figured at 30 or 40 years each).
Vintage is used even more haphazardly. There is no agreed-upon standard – if something isn’t absolutely brand-new there may well be someone referring to it as vintage.
At Thrilled Kitty we try to provide specific dates for items where possible, but this rule always applies on our website:
- An item or artwork specifically described as an Antique will be at least 100 years old
- An item or artwork described as Vintage will be at least 20 years old
When we list an artwork or print on the site we collect as much information as we can on the piece and divide it into the following sections:
This is where we describe the general condition of the work, along with any notable flaws or defects. Any vintage or antique piece is liable to bear some minor marks from the passage of time, but these are a part of its history and should not detract from the overall appearance. However, if there are any noticeable marks or issues we will list them here, and some of the terms we use include:
- Cockling – Uneven rippling or waviness in paper caused by moisture, which can be seen particularly on watercolours or prints that have been over-saturated. It can also occur with humidity changes if a work has been poorly framed in the past.
- Tanning – Also called age-toning, this is a darkening of the sheet which can occur with some types of paper over decades of exposure to ambient light and atmospheric elements.
- Foxing – Superficial reddish-brown marks that can occur on old paper. The cause of foxing is not fully understood, but may be related to the oxidation of iron, copper and other impurities in the pulp or rag from which the paper was made.
Please be sure to view all of the photographs attached to the listing, and remember that you can click or tap on a picture for an enlarged version to allow you to closely inspect the piece.
Here we describe the nature of the artwork. Terms include:
- Original Artwork – This is an original, one-off piece of art, usually marked with the artist’s signature, monogram or stamp.
- Limited Edition Print – In printmaking, an edition is traditionally a number of impressions created from a metal plate or wooden block at the same time. If the edition is limited this means that a strictly fixed number of impressions will be produced, with no further copies created in the future. Each print will usually be signed and numbered by the artist in pencil, with a number such as 23/50 showing the unique number of that impression and the total number created in the edition.
- Open Edition Print – If the edition is open then no fixed limit has been placed on the number of impressions that will be created in the edition. Although not numbered, such prints may still be produced in a very small run and may still be signed and titled in pencil by the artist.
- Artist’s Proof (A/P) – Traditionally, a printmaker may mark up to ten percent of an edition as Artist’s Proof, so in a limited edition of 20 there might be 20 prints numbered from 1/20 to 20/20, and two prints marked as A/P for the artist.
- Book Illustration – A plate or illustration from a disbound antique/vintage book or periodical. There may be text on the back of the print, but once mounted this is usually not noticeable. We will note in the condition report if there is any visible bleed-through of text.
- Ephemera – This covers historical printed material, and includes advertisements and postcards.
Here we note the materials used in the production of an original artwork, such as oils or watercolours, board or canvas.
Mount & Under-mount Materials
The mount finishes and protects an artwork, and makes it ready to place into a frame. All of the materials we use are pH neutral and meet Fine Art Trade Guild standards. This section of the listing shows the manufacturer of the mount-board used (e.g. Daler–Rowney) followed by the colour (e.g. Antique White). Antique White is one of our favourite mount colours as it is a mellow white that nicely complements the tone of older paper. Another colour that we use frequently is Snow White, a brighter tone which is well suited to colourful contemporary works, without being such a brilliant pure white that it overpowers the artwork. You can find out more about mounting in our Framing Guide.
Framed or Unframed
If an artwork is listed as Framed then it is fully framed, with a wire, cord or other fixings on the back, ready to hang on your wall as soon as it arrives. Most of our artworks are Unframed, which means that they are fully mounted (with a gallery label on the rear and protected in archival-grade packaging) and ready to be placed into a frame of your choosing. You can find more information in our Framing Guide.
Frame Size Required
To make framing extra easy for our customers, we tailor our work to the most common frame sizes that can be found in most online and high-street homeware and interior design stores. If an artwork demands a different size we will generally frame it in-house and provide it for sale ready-framed.
Orientation (Portrait or Landscape)
This tells you which way the artwork will hang. With Portrait the longest sides are vertical, with Landscape the longest sides are horizontal. Most shop-bought frames will be supplied with fixings that allow you to hang it in either orientation.
Jewellery, Silverwork & Other Listings
As with our artwork listings, we collect as much information as we can on the item and divide it into the following sections:
We prefer to offer items that are in fine condition, but sometimes we find things that are so unusual and historically interesting that we still want to bring them to our customers, despite a few flaws. Any vintage or antique piece is liable to bear some minor marks from the passage of time, but these are a part of its history and should not detract from the overall appearance. We will list any notable issues for your attention, and please be sure to view all of the photographs attached to the listing; remember that you can click or tap on a picture for an enlarged version to allow you to closely inspect the piece.
Here we will note any purity marks, Assay Office hallmarks, or maker’s logos that have been applied to a piece of jewellery or silverwork. A common mark is the ‘925’ purity stamp that indicates sterling silver on pieces weighing under 7.78g: heavier silver items should have a full set of Assay Office hallmarks, although a silversmith will sometimes apply a full set of marks to lighter pieces too.