Dating brass objects

Brass will turn pink when tested with hydrochloric acid and will come to resemble pure copper as acid removes the zinc. Because this is a corrosive test, use the acid sparingly and only on a small area of the metal. Use caution when treating metals with any form of acid, which can damage the skin and other objects.

Always wear rubber gloves when working with acid, and thoroughly clean up the area in which acid was used. Lesley Graybeal has been writing articles for internet content since Her work can be found on a range of hobby and business resource web publications, including Trails.


Lesley earned her B. Warning Use caution when treating metals with any form of acid, which can damage the skin and other objects.

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How to Identify Brass Metal. Engraved and tin wares represent a long standing technique, but their higher quality and greater quantity show that they were now produced as luxury wares. Tinning was used externally to create a silvery surface and color, and contrast was added to both inlaid and engraved objects by filling the backgrounds with a bituminous black material. Epigraphy and floral and vegetal motifs are the primary means of decoration; figural imagery is rare Komaroff, a, pp. Only a few wares can be attributed to western Iran in the late 14th and early 15th century.

These demonstrate that the metalworking centers in Fars and Azerbaijan continued to work in the manner established earlier. Metalwork from the first decades of the 16th century under the Safavid dynasty continued the forms, techniques, and styles that had evolved in the preceding century in eastern Iran. Such wares can only be distinguished from earlier Timurid examples on the basis of the dates or the content of their inscriptions.

As in the preceding period, the most frequent type of dated object is a pot-bellied jug with dragon-shaped handle inlaid in gold and silver. Another common form perhaps newly introduced is a small, cylindrical inkwell with dome-shaped cover.

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Unlike the Timurid wares, these works frequently bear prayers in Arabic. This shape is also documented in contemporary manuscript illustrations from Tabriz. The inkwells are decorated with medallions filled with radial designs of stylized cloud scrolls and the overall scheme is more spacious and rhythmic and less rigid than the precise, crowded designs typical of 15th-century wares. In the second quarter of the 16th century the decoration became stiffer and more schematized.

This transitional style is found primarily on engraved and tinned wares. This type of metalware continued to be produced in a provincial style in Khorasan and western Central Asia well into the second half of the 16th century. Other objects can be attributed to western Iran such as a jug, in the Victoria and Albert Museum, which maintains the traditional pot-bellied shape and decoration divided among medallions and cartouches, but the design is more sharply defined, and less linear and compact Melikian-Chirvani, , pp.

General processes and techniques

Several objects demonstrate the arrival of a new style of metalwork in western Iran around the third quarter of the 16th century. The most important one among the newly introduced shapes is a columnar lampstand in the form of a tapered cylinder with a chamfered or faceted middle section and a flared base.

Such objects are engraved all-over with patterns of spiraling split-leaves or zigzag bands and with lozenge-shaped cartouches filled with vegetation arranged to emphasize the sleek contours of the form. A common type from this period is a wine bowl with shallow foot and flaring lip. Lamp-stands, bowls and other vessels were typically decorated with repetitive vegetal and abstract patterns similar to those found in contemporaneous manuscript illuminations and bookbinding or on carpets. Human and animal figures are once again a primary means of decoration and are comparable to contemporary drawings and illustrated manuscripts.

These wares are usually attributed to western Iran, more specifically to Isfahan, because of their similarity to other arts produced there or on account of their Armenian inscriptions. They are decorated with the same type of abstract and figural ornament found on objects from western Iran, but the design is organized in a more spacious manner and always includes cross-hatching. The dates and attributions for many later 16th- and 17th-century wares are open to question. A group of cut-steel objects overlaid with gold can be associated with western Iran in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Beginning in the 16th century, cut steel was used to make vessels and especially pierced plaques, medallions, and standards.

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The decoration of such objects is better related to contemporary cut and gilded armor than to engraved brass and tinned wares of the same period Allan and Gilmore, pp. Thousands of pieces of metalwork produced under the Zand and Qajar dynasties have survived, but they are of modest merit, generally utilitarian brass and copperwares with the exception of some fine examples of cut-steel, including copies after 17th-century pieces Allan and Gilmore, pp.

Royal Imagery , New York, The heat was sufficient to reduce the ore to metallic state but not melt the copper. The vapor from the zinc permeated the copper to form brass, which could then be melted to give a uniform alloy.

Candleholder single #1, H 10,5 cm, solid brass

Only in the last millennium has brass been appreciated as an engineering alloy. Initially, bronze was easier to make using native copper and tin and was ideal for the manufacture of utensils. Pre-dynastic Egyptians knew copper very well and in hieroglyphs copper was represented by the ankh symbol 'C' also used to denote eternal life, an early appreciation of the lifetime cost-effectiveness of copper and its alloys. While tin was readily available for the manufacture of bronze, brass was little used except where its golden color was required.

The Greeks knew brass as 'oreichalcos', a brilliant and white copper. Several Roman writers refer to brass, calling it 'Aurichalum.

Encyclopædia Iranica

They used grades containing from 11 to 28 per cent of zinc to obtain decorative colors for all types for ornamental jewelry. As mentioned, in medieval times there was no source of pure zinc. When Swansea, in South Wales, was effectively the center of the world's copper industry, brass was made in Britain from calamine found in the Mendip hills in Somerset.