This metal would be of great use in the arts if it were not so rare. In many of its properties it stands between zinc and tin. The color and metallic luster of cadmium are similar to those of tin: it is ductile and malleable, but more readily acted upon by atmospheric oxygen and moisture than tin.
But the prominent feature of cadmium is its low fusing point, and the fact that it forms with lead, tin, and bismuth, alloys which have a lower melting point than any other metal except mercury. (See Fusible Metals.) It is said that a beautiful white metal, very hard, and capable of taking a brilliant polish, is obtained by melting together about seventy parts of copper, twenty of nickel, five and a half of zinc, and four and a half of cadmium. It is, therefore, a kind of German silver, in which part of the zinc is replaced by cadmium. This alloy has been recently made in Paris for the manufacture of spoons and forks, which resemble articles of silver.
The great facility with which cadmium volatilizes has been the serious drawback to the formation of its alloys and their study.
Cadmium also furnishes a beautiful yellow paint - cadmium yellow, - which is a sulphuret of cadmium.