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Encyclopedia > Gilding
A gilded Tibetan Vajrasattva
A gilded Tibetan Vajrasattva

Gilding is the art of applying metal leaf (most commonly gold or silver leaf) to a surface. This art was known to the ancients. According to Herodotus, the Egyptians were accustomed to gilding wood and metals; and gilding by means of gold plates is frequently mentioned in the Old Testament. Pliny the Elder informs us that the first gilding seen at Rome was after the destruction of Carthage, under the censorship of Lucius Mummius, when the Romans began to gild the ceilings of their temples and palaces, the Capitol being the first place on which this process was used. But he adds that luxury advanced on them so rapidly that in very little time you might see all, even private and poor people, gild the walls, vaults, and other parts of their dwellings. Owing to the comparative thickness of the gold leaf used in ancient gilding, the traces of it which yet remain are remarkably brilliant and solid. Image File history File links Download high resolution version (669x990, 191 KB) Vajrasattva statue, Tibet (ca. ... Image File history File links Download high resolution version (669x990, 191 KB) Vajrasattva statue, Tibet (ca. ... Vajrasattva holds the vajra in his right hand and a bell in his left hand. ... Gold leaf processing Metal leaf, or leafing, is a thin foil of some nearly pure metal, often gold, silver, aluminum, copper and sometimes palladium. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Metal leaf. ... Gold leaf processing Metal leaf, or leafing, is a thin foil of some nearly pure metal, often gold, silver, aluminum, copper and sometimes palladium. ... The times before writing belong either to protohistory or to prehistory. ... This article or section does not adequately cite its references or sources. ... GOLD refers to one of the following: GOLD (IEEE) is an IEEE program designed to garner more student members at the university level (Graduates of the Last Decade). ... Note: Judaism commonly uses the term Tanakh. ... Pliny the Elder: an imaginative 19th Century portrait. ... Nickname: Motto: SPQR: Senatus Populusque Romanus Location of the city of Rome (yellow) within the Province of Rome (red) and region of Lazio (grey) Coordinates: Region Lazio Province Province of Rome Founded 21 April 753 BC Government  - Mayor Walter Veltroni Area  - City 1,285 km²  (580 sq mi)  - Urban 5... Carthage (Greek: , from the Phoenician meaning new town, Arabic: , Latin: ) refers both to an ancient city in North Africa located in modern day Tunis and to the civilization that developed within the citys sphere of influence. ... Lucius Mummius (2nd century BC), surnamed Achaicus was a Roman statesman and general. ... For other uses, see Capitol (disambiguation). ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Metal leaf. ...

Gilding has in all times occupied an important place in the ornamental arts of Oriental countries; and the native processes pursued in India at the present day may be taken as typical of the arts as practised from the earliest periods. The term the Orient - literally meaning sunrise, east - is traditionally used to refer to Near, Middle, and Far Eastern countries. ...


Gilding processes

Gilded 22karat gold frame ready for burnishing with agate stone tool
Gilded 22karat gold frame ready for burnishing with agate stone tool

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

Copper gilding

The form of gold leaf gilding using copper was employed in the decoration of temple domes and other large works. The following is a description of this gilding process: General Name, Symbol, Number copper, Cu, 29 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 11, 4, d Appearance metallic pinkish red Standard atomic weight 63. ... Temple of Hephaestus, an Doric Greek temple in Athens with the original entrance facing east, 449 BC (western face depicted) For other uses, see Temple (disambiguation). ...

The metal surface is thoroughly scraped, cleaned and polished, and then heated in a fire sufficiently to remove any traces of grease or other impurities which may remain from the polishing. It is then dipped in an acid solution prepared from dried, unripe apricots, and rubbed with pumice or brick powder. Next the surface is rubbed over with mercury, which forms a superficial amalgam with the copper, after which it is left for several hours in clean water, again washed with the acid solution, and then dried. It is now ready for receiving the gold, which is laid on in leaf, and, on adhering, assumes a grey appearance from combining with the mercury, but on the application of heat the latter metal volatilizes, leaving the gold a dull greyish hue before the colour is brought up by means of rubbing with agate burnishers. The weight of mercury used in this process is double that of the gold laid on. Look up grease in Wiktionary, the free dictionary. ... Acidity redirects here. ... Binomial name Prunus armeniaca L. For other uses, see Apricot (disambiguation). ... // Specimen of highly porous pumice from Teide volcano on Tenerife, Canary Islands. ... An old brick wall in English bond laid with alternating courses of headers and A brick is a block of ceramic material used in masonry construction and sized to be layed with one hand using mortar. ... General Name, Symbol, Number mercury, Hg, 80 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 12, 6, d Appearance silvery Standard atomic weight 200. ... the word amalgamation, see Amalgamation. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Metal leaf. ... Agate is a term applied not to a distinct mineral species, but to an aggregate of various forms of silica, chiefly chalcedony. ... Burnishing is a form of pottery decoration in which the surface of the pot is polished, often using a spatula of wood or bone, while it is still in a leathery green state, i. ...

Iron or steel gilding

For gilding using iron or steel, the surface is first scratched over with chequered lines, then washed in a hot solution of green apricots, dried and heated just short of red-heat. The gold leaf is then laid on, and rubbed in with agate burnishers, when it adheres by catching into the prepared scratched surface. General Name, Symbol, Number iron, Fe, 26 Chemical series transition metals Group, Period, Block 8, 4, d Appearance lustrous metallic with a grayish tinge Standard atomic weight 55. ... The steel cable of a colliery winding tower. ...

WATER GILDING: A gilders tip used to apply 22 Karat gold leaf to a frame
WATER GILDING: A gilders tip used to apply 22 Karat gold leaf to a frame

Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ... Image File history File links No higher resolution available. ...

Water gilding

Water gilding is the traditional gilding of wood. A thin layer of white or red gesso mixed with rabbit skin glue is applied to the wood. A water-based bole is applied, the color of which will affect the color of the finished gilding. The bole is wet with gilder's liquor, a combination of alcohol and water which brings the glue up to the surface of the bole. Metal leaf (most commonly gold or silver leaf) is applied using a gilder's tip, a brush which is usually made of ox hairs. The leaf is later burnished with a tool using a semi precious agate stone. Gesso is the Italian word for chalk (akin to the Greek word gypsum), and is a powdered form of the mineral calcium carbonate used in art. ... This article or section does not cite any references or sources. ... Bole (simplified Chinese: 博乐; traditional Chinese: 博樂;pinyin: Bólè; also known as Bortala) is a city in Xinjiang. ... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged with Metal leaf. ... Silver Leaf Township is a township located in Becker County, Minnesota. ...

Oil gilding

Oil gilding is the traditional process for building exteriors. After the surface is cleaned and primed an oil "size" - similar to varnish - is applied. The size cures until is comes to tack (that is, it has dried enough to hold the leaf on to the surface but is still "tacky" - sticky - enough for the leaf to adhere to it). The surface is then skewed to fully press the leaf against the size and also remove any loose fragments of leaf. Oil gilded surfaces are not burnished any further.

Modern gilding processes

Modern gilding is applied to numerous and diverse surfaces and by various distinct processes, so that the art is practiced in many ways, and is part of widely different ornamental and useful arts. It forms an important and essential part of framemaking (see also article on wood carving); it is largely employed in connection with cabinet-work, decorative painting and house ornamentation; and it also features largely in bookbinding and ornamental leather work. Further, gilding is much employed for coating baser metals, as in button-making, in the gilt toy trade, in electro-gilt reproductions and in electroplating; and it is also a characteristic feature in the decoration of pottery, porcelain, and glass. The various processes fall under one or other of two headings — mechanical gilding and chemical gilding. Carved wooden cranes Wood carving is a form of working wood by means of a cutting tool held in the hand (this may be a power tool), resulting in a wooden figure or figurine (this may be abstract in nature) or in the ornamentation of a wooden object. ... A cabinet is a usually oblong piece of furniture, often attached to a wall and made of wood, used throughout the world for the storage of clothes or other miscellaneous items. ... Interior decoration or décor is the art of decorating a room so that it is attractive, easy to use, and functions well with the existing architecture. ... Old book binding and cover Bookbinding is the process of physically assembling a book from a number of folded or unfolded sheets of paper or other material. ... Modern leather-working tools Leather is a material created through the tanning of hides and skins of animals, primarily cattlehide. ... A small flat button Metal, plastic, and leather shank buttons. ... The toy industry was the term used to describe a number of metalworking industries that produced small goods; hinges, buttons, belt buckles and hooks are all examples of goods that were once considered toys. The term toy was used starting in the early 18th century to describe the industry in... Electroplating is the process of using electrical current to coat an electrically conductive object with a relatively thin layer of metal. ... Unfired green ware pottery on a traditional drying rack at Conner Prairie living history museum. ... This article or section needs copy editing for grammar, style, cohesion, tone and/or spelling. ... Glass can be made transparent and flat, or into other shapes and colors as shown in this sphere from the Verrerie of Brehat in Brittany. ...

Mechanical gilding

Mechanical gilding embraces all the operations by which gold leaf is prepared (see goldbeating), and the several processes by which it is mechanically attached to the surfaces it is intended to cover. It thus embraces the burnish or water-gilding and the oil-gilding of the carver and gilder, and the gilding operations of the house decorator, the sign-painter, the bookbinder, the paperstainer and several others. Polished iron, steel and other metals are gilt mechanically by applying gold-leaf to the metallic surface at a temperature just under red-heat, pressing the leaf on with a burnisher and reheating, when additional leaf may be laid on. The process is completed by cold burnishing. Photo courtesy Auntie P. Metal leaf, or leafing, is a thin foil of some nearly pure metal, often gold or silver and sometimes copper. ...

Chemical gilding

Chemical gilding embraces those processes in which the gold used is at some stage in a state of chemical combination. Of these the following are the principal:

Cold gilding

In this process the gold is obtained in a state of extremely fine division, and applied by mechanical means. Cold gilding on silver is performed by a solution of gold in aqua regia, applied by dipping a linen rag into the solution, burning it, and rubbing the black and heavy ashes on the silver with the finger or a piece of leather or cork. Freshly prepared aqua regia is colorless, but it turns orange within seconds. ...

Wet gilding

Wet gilding is effected by means of a dilute solution of chloride of gold with twice its quantity of ether. The liquids are agitated and allowed to rest, when the ether separates and floats on the surface of the acid. The whole mixture is then poured into a funnel with a small aperture, and allowed to rest for some time, when the acid is run off and the ether separated. The ether will be found to have taken up all the gold from the acid, and may be used for gilding iron or steel, for which purpose the metal is polished with the finest emery and spirits of wine. The ether is then applied with a small brush, and as it evaporates it deposits the gold, which can now be heated and polished. For small delicate figures a pen or a fine brush may be used for laying on the ether solution. Gold(III) chloride, traditionally called auric chloride, is one of the most common compounds of gold. ... Diethyl ether, also known as ether and ethoxyethane, is a clear, colorless, and highly flammable liquid with a low boiling point and a characteristic smell. ...


Fire-gilding or Wash-gilding is a process by which an amalgam of gold is applied to metallic surfaces, the mercury being subsequently volatilized, leaving a film of gold or an amalgam containing from 13 to 16 % of mercury. In the preparation of the amalgam the gold must first be reduced to thin plates or grains, which are heated red hot, and thrown into previously heated mercury, till it begins to smoke. Upon stirring the mercury with an iron rod, the gold totally disappears. The proportion of mercury to gold is generally as six or eight to one. When the amalgam is cold it is squeezed through chamois leather for the purpose of separating the superfluous mercury; the gold, with about twice its weight of mercury, remains behind, forming a yellowish silvery mass with the consistency of butter. the word amalgamation, see Amalgamation. ... Binomial name Rupicapra rupicapra (Linnaeus, 1758) The chamois (Rupicapra rupicapra) is a large, goat-like animal that lives in the European Alps and Carpathians. ...

When the metal to be gilt is wrought or chased, it ought to be covered with mercury before the amalgam is applied, that this may be more easily spread; but when the surface of the metal is plain, the amalgam may be applied to it direct. When no such preparation is applied, the surface to be gilded is simply bitten and cleaned with nitric acid. A deposit of mercury is obtained on a metallic surface by means of quicksilver water, a solution of nitrate of mercury, the nitric acid attacking the metal to which it is applied, and thus leaving a film of free metallic mercury. The chemical compound nitric acid (HNO3), also known as aqua fortis and spirit of nitre, is an aqueous solution of hydrogen nitrate (anhydrous nitric acid). ... Mercury(II) nitrate is a toxic colorless or white soluble crystalline compound of mercury. ...

The amalgam being equally spread over the prepared surface of the metal, the mercury is then sublimed by a heat just sufficient for that purpose; for, if it is too great, part of the gold may be driven off, or it may run together and leave some of the surface of the metal bare. When the mercury has evaporated, which is known by the surface having entirely become of a dull yellow color, the metal must undergo other operations, by which the fine gold color is given to it. First, the gilded surface is rubbed with a scratch brush of brass wire, until its surface be smooth; then it is covered over with a composition called gilding wax, and again exposed to the fire until the wax is burnt off.

This wax is composed of beeswax mixed with some of the following substances: red ochre, verdigris, copper scales, alum, vitriol, and borax. By this operation the color of the gilding is heightened; and the effect seems to be produced by a perfect dissipation of some mercury remaining after the former operation. The dissipation is well effected by this equable application of heat. The gilt surface is then covered over with nitre, alum or other salts, ground together, and mixed up into a paste with water or weak ammonia. The piece of metal thus covered is exposed to a certain degree of heat, and then quenched in water. Red ochre and yellow ochre (pronounced //, from the Greek ochros, yellow) are pigments made from naturally tinted clay. ... Verdigris is the common name for the chemical Cu(CH3COO)2. ... A crystal of alum Alum, Allom [aluminium potassium sulphate], in chemistry, is a term given to the crystallized double sulfates of the typical formula M+2SO4·M3+2(SO4)3·24H2O, where M+ is the sign of an alkali metal (lithium, sodium, potassium, rubidium, or caesium), and M3+ denotes one... It has been suggested that this article or section be merged into sulfuric acid. ... Borax, also called sodium borate, or sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. ... R-phrases   S-phrases   Supplementary data page Structure and properties n, εr, etc. ... Quenching is a general term for non-radiative de-excitation. ...

By this method its color is further improved and brought nearer to that of gold, probably by removing any particles of copper that may have been on the gilt surface. This process, when skilfully carried out, produces gilding of great solidity and beauty; but owing to the exposure of the workmen to mercurial fumes, it is very unhealthy, and further there is much loss of mercury. Numerous contrivances have been introduced to obviate these serious evils. Gilt brass buttons used for uniforms are gilt by this process, and there is an act of Parliament (1796), yet unrepealed, which prescribes 5 grains of gold as the smallest quantity that may be used for the gilding of 12 dozen of buttons 1 inch in diameter.[citation needed] The Houses of Parliament, as seen over Westminster Bridge The Parliament of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland is the supreme legislative body in the United Kingdom and British overseas territories. ...

Depletion gilding

In depletion gilding, a unique subtractive process discovered in Pre-columbian Mesoamerica, articles are fabricated by various techniques from an alloy of copper and gold (named tumbaga by the Spaniards). The surface is etched with acids, resulting in a surface of porous gold. The porous surface is then burnished down, resulting in a shiny gold surface. The results fooled the conquistadors into thinking they had massive quantities of pure gold. The results startled modern archaeologists, because at first the pieces resemble electroplated articles. Depletion gilding is a method for producing a layer of nearly pure gold on an object made of gold alloy by removing the other metals from its surface. ... This article or section does not cite its references or sources. ... The cultural areas of Mesoamerica Mesoamerica or Meso-America (Spanish: Mesoamérica) was a geographical culture area extending from central Honduras and northwestern Costa Rica on the south, and, in Mexico, from the Soto la Marina River in Tamaulipas and the Rio Fuerte in Sinaloa on the north. ... Tumbaga two-headed figurine from Colombia, circa 600-1600 a. ... Polishing is the process of creating a smooth and shiny surface by using rubbing or a chemical action. ...

Gilding of pottery and porcelain

The quantity of gold consumed for decoration of pottery and porcelain is very large. The gold leaf is dissolved in aquaregia, and the acid is driven off by heat; or the gold may be precipitated by means of sulphate of iron. In this pulverulent state the gold is mixed with ~1th of its weight of oxide of bismuth, together with a small quantity of borax arid gum water. The mixture is applied to the articles with a camel's hair pencil, and after passing through the fire the gold is of a dingy color, but the luster is brought out by burnishing with agate and bloodstone, and afterwards cleaning with vinegar or white lead. Iron(II) sulfate, also known as ferrous sulfate and as copperas (FeSO4) is an example of an ionic compound. ... Bismite is a bismuth oxide mineral, Bi2O3. ... Heliotrope is another term for bloodstone, a form of Chalcedony. ... Vinegar is sometimes infused with spices or herbs—as here, with oregano. ... Sample of cerussite-bearing quartzite Cerussite (also known as Horn silver, Lead carbonate, White lead ore) is a mineral consisting of lead carbonate (PbCO3), and an important ore of lead. ...

Mechanical and chemical gilding of metals has been largely superseded by electroplating. Electroplating is the process of using electrical current to coat an electrically conductive object with a relatively thin layer of metal. ...

See also

The Breakers, a gilded-age mansion in Newport, Rhode Island. ... Gilding metal is a copper alloy, with the composition of 95% copper and 5% zinc. ... Gold-plating is a term relating to European Union law, used particularly in the UK. Gold-plating refers to the practise of national bodies exceeding the terms of European Community directives when implementing them into national law. ... Gold leaf processing Metal leaf, or leafing, is a thin foil of some nearly pure metal, often gold, silver, aluminum, copper and sometimes palladium. ...


This article incorporates text from the Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition, a publication now in the public domain. Encyclopædia Britannica, the 11th edition The Encyclopædia Britannica Eleventh Edition (1910–1911) is perhaps the most famous edition of the Encyclopædia Britannica. ... The public domain comprises the body of all creative works and other knowledge—writing, artwork, music, science, inventions, and others—in which no person or organization has any proprietary interest. ...

External links

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And when the gild shall sit, the alderman is to have, each night, so long as the gild sits, two gallons of wine and two candles, and the steward the same; and the four skevins and the chaplain, each of them one gallon of wine and one candle, and the usher one gallon of wine.
No one of the gild nor of the franchise shall avow another's goods for his by which the custom of the city shall be injured And if any one does so and is convicted, he shall lose the gild and the franchise; and the merchandise so avowed shall be forfeited to the king.
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