Illustrated FURNITURE Glossary
................. Illustrated Architecture Dictionary ...................Mirrors

Pier glass

Neoclassical pier glass and console table.
Private Buffalo collection.

Renaissance Revival tall pier glass and console table.
Horace Reed House


Adamesque console table.
Georgian House Museum, Edinburgh, Scotland
Pier: An isolated, heavy, vertical masonry support like a column or pilaster, but lacking the proportions or details of either. The pier gives support to arches and beams, and it is attached to a wall at the point where a heavy load is imposed.

Pier glass (console mirror): So named because it was designed to be hung over a pier table.

Very tall, narrow mirror with rectangular frame and overhanging, molded cornice

Originally a mirror that stood on the floor against the wall, intended as a facing for piers or to cover the wallspace between windows.

The term is also used to describe wall mirrors set over console tables.

Dimensions are three feet, six inches to four feet tall by 22 to 25 inches wide.

Convex molded frame, about three inches wide with flat arched top, may be plain or surmounted at center by pierced and carved cresting -- a cartouche in silhouette flanked by balancing downswept foliated scrolls. Bottom corners may be overlaid by bracket-like leafage scrolls.

Wood is either pine (gesso-coated and gilded or painted to simulate rosewood) or black walnut. A rosewood-finished or black walnut frame usually has narrow gilt beading around mirror panel. Much less expensive than the tall pier glass, and very popular. Produced in quantities by a growing number of frame factories, c. 1855-1875

Tall Pier Glass: Like overmantel mirror in design, but much taller and narrower, measuring seven to nine feet tall by 30 to 42 inches wide.

The one-piece panel of mirror glass is usually flat-arched at top and surrounded by a convex molding, plain or overlaid with foliated scrolls.

Frame has elaborate top scroll-outlined pediment, 18 to 20 inches high, pierced and edged with intertwining foliated scrolls done in relief.  At center there is either raised cartouche or a silhouetted panache. 

At lower corners usually large overlaid S-shaped foliated scrolls, matching upper decorative details.

Frame rests on either a low projecting base with white marble top of demi-cartouche shape, or on a marble shelf of similar shape supported by ornamented brackets.  Base about 16 inches tall. Molded cabriole front legs; deeply valanced and pierced skirt edged with raised foliated scrolls.

A smaller and simpler pier glass, designed for less pretentious country homes, has unornamented convex molded frame about three inches wide with flat arched top, made of pine gilded or of black walnut. Five to six feet tall, by 24 to 26 incheswide. Ca. 1850-1870.

Pier table: a console table usually used in conjunction with a pier glass or mirror. Originally intended to be used on the space (or pier) between two windows
Console: The French term for "bracket." A console is a bracket, usually in an S scroll or curve, used to support a cornice or shelf.

In furniture, it is more a decorative device than a functional one. The term often applies to a console table which is actually a shelf supported against a wall by a bracket, a leg, or a pair of legs.

A term originally applied to a bracket that supported cornices or shelves and later used to describe tables that were affixed to a wall and supported with legs at the front. Today it describes any type of table used along a wall

Console legs: scroll legs that are bracket-shaped. They are found in late-18th-century furniture and are also called "bracket feet"

Console mirror: A mirror that is set over a console or pier table.

Console table: a shelflike table attached to a wall, and supported by a receding front leg or legs, or set on an S-shaped curved or caryatid-type bracket.

Originally popular in 18th-century France and England, and still in use today in foyers, entries, etc. Also called a pier table.

See also: Console (architectural term)    ......  Eastlake Pier Glass

Examples from Buffalo:

Other examples:

Photos and their arrangement © 2005 Chuck LaChiusa
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