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Cabriole leg
A cabriole leg of a table or chair joins two opposing curves, forming an S-shape. The upper curve is bowed out, and the lower curve is bowed inward. They were used by the ancient Chinese and Greeks, then re-emerged in the 18th century and made an impact on Dutch, French, and English furniture.

Cambric
Usually a thin, white closely-woven cotton fabric treated to give it a slight gloss. Normally used for pillow and duvet shells.

Candelabra
Dates from the 15th century and refers to large, detailed candlesticks that are often combined to create a branched look with many arms.

Capitals
Capitals form the head or crown of a column that is molded or sculpted. The capital is separated from the rest of the column because of its moldings. They originated in the 16th century.

Carver Chair
An early American chair that was made of twisted wood parts from ash wood, then later from maple wood. This type of chair was named after a chair owned by the Governor Carver or Plymouth.

Caryatids
This is an architectural term of Greek origin that describes female figures sculpted into furniture. Caryatids are seen in the English Regency style of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Male figures of the same design are called Atlantes.

Casters
Introduced in England at the end of the 17th century, casters are small and pivoted wheels that are attached to the bottoms of chairs and tables.

Chamfer
A term used to describe a beveled, slanted, or cut off corner of a furniture piece. The chamfer is the flat wood or stone surface where the slanted pieces meet.

Chinoiserie
Popularized in the 17th and 18th centuries, it is a decorative ornamenting that uses flourished representations of Chinese lifestyle. Asian culture was considered exotic and sophisticated in Europe, especially in art, so artisans painted or drew these detailed Asian scenes on fabrics, pottery, or even furniture, combining real elements with the fantastic. In French, the word chinoiserie means “in the Chinese taste.”

Chippendale Style
A combination of English and French design with a hint of Chinese influence from England circa 1740. What makes Chippendale different is that Chippendale pieces have applied decoration. Some of the main characteristics of the Chippendale style are the use of acanthus leaves on chair legs, ball-and-claw feet, and ribbon carving on chair backs. Most Chippendale pieces are made of Honduras mahogany. One unique design is the Chippendale partners' desk; so called because it has the same drawer on the other side.

Chromoxylography
A color-block printing process popularized in England in the mid-19th century. It was one of the first forms of multi-color print in publishing.

Claw and Ball Foot
The foot of a chair that is carved to resemble a bird's foot gripping a ball. This is seen in early Chinese pieces and also in Chippendale work.

Coir
A natural fiber produced from the husk of a ripe or unripe coconut shell. Brown coir is taken from ripe coconuts and the fiber is thicker and stronger than white coir, which comes from unripe ones. Coir is mostly waterproof and is one of the few natural fibers that can withstand damage from salt water.

Colonial
Most of the pieces from this English-influenced American style were made by cabinetmakers in Philadelphia, Boston, and New York. This style lasted from 1650 to 1750 and the majority of the pieces are simplifications of styles from England. The ladder-back chair and the Windsor chair were redeveloped during this time.

Credence
Another word for a side table that is used for serving purposes, usually made of oak wood. Credences were first seen in England in the 17th century.

Cresting
A dated term used to describe carved decoration on the top rails of various pieces, including chairs, mirrors, and beds.

Crewelwork
A thousand-year-old embroidery technique, where wool is sewn into an applied design, usually on a durable fabric such as linen.

Cromwellian Chair
A simple squarish chair developed in England in the 1600s and was popular in America. Most feature bobbin-turned legs and nail-heads, the only styling deemed acceptable in Puritan Colonial America. The Cromwellian chair is an evolutionary style of the Farthingale chair.

Curly Wood
Wood that has variations in grain that resemble waves and curves. This is often seen on birch and maple wood in early American pieces.

Cusped Arch
Also called a pointed gothic arch. This describes a pointed arch with gothic detail.