Belter Sofas: Glossary and Bibliography


Arabasket: Carvings in the wood in the shapes of scrolls, flowers, or vines that decorate the outer frame of the sofa.


Cabriole:tapering leg that curves outward at the top and inward farther down so as to appear like an s-curve; ends in a round pad, the semblance of an animal’s paw, or some other feature: used especially in the first half of the 18th century.  


Dimetyl- ether: Also known as methoxymethane, wood ether, dimethyl oxide or methyl ether, is the simplest ether. It is a colorless, slightly narcotic, non-toxic, highly flammable gas at ambient conditions, but can be handled as a liquid when lightly pressurized.

Resin: any of a class of nonvolatile, solid or semisolid organic substances, ascopal or mastic, that consist of amorphous mixtures of carboxylic acids; they are obtained directly from certain plants as exudations or prepared by polymerization of simple molecules: used in medicine and in the making of varnishes and plastics.

Rococo Revival: The period between 1820 and 1870 in Europe where the Rococo style of decorative arts, painting, sculpture, and architecture was born again.  During this time, capitalism and the middle class increased tremendously, and the affluent upper class placed much more value on the Rococo era of the previous century; in art, costume, and many luxury goods.


Rosewood: any of various reddish cabinet woods, sometimes with a rose-like odor,yielded by certain tropical trees, especially belonging to the genus Dalbergia, of the legume family.




Attributed to John H. Belter, Pair of Sofas, ca. 1850. Laminated, carved, and gilded rosewood; reproduction silk dmask upholstery. Virginia Museum of Fine Arts.

Banham, Joanna, and Leanda Shrimpton. Encyclopedia of Interior Design. London: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 1997.

Dubrow, Eileen, and Richard Dubrow. American Furniture of the 19th Century, 1840-1880. Exton, PA: Schiffer Pub., 1983.

McNerney, Kathryn. Victorian Furniture: Our American Heritage. Paducah, KY: Collector Books, 1981.

Nineteenth Century Furniture: Innovation, Revival, and Reform. New York, NY: Art & Antiques, 1982.

O Leary, Elizabeth L., and Kathy Z. Gillis. “A Tale of Two Sofas.” The Magazine Antiques. Accessed May 08, 2015.

Peck, Amelia. “American Revival Styles, 1840–1876”. Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History. New York: The Metropolitan Museum  of Art, 2000–. (October 2004)

Schwartz, Marvin D., Edward J. Stanek, and Douglas K. True. The Furniture of John Henry Belter and the Rococo Revival: An  Inquiry into the Nineteenth-Century Furniture Design through a Study of the Gloria and Richard Manney Collection. New York: E.P. Dutton, 1980.




Return to the Home Page (Belter Sofas: An Introduction)